Moving PhotoLab from Windows PC to a Mac Mini

Hi, I’m getting back into photography after a very long time away and I’m looking at getting PhotoLab via the Black Friday deal. In the short term I’d be using my work laptop (Windows) if I do purchase.

But, I’m planning on getting a new computer (Mac) in the new year which will be my personal machine and I’ll need to 'move’ PhotoLab from the Windows machine to the Mac and then remove PhotoLab from the Windows machine completely. I’ll then use just the Mac for everything.

Looking through some of the posts here, I’ve seen some similar questions but none that quite fit my scenario.

What are the folders/files I need be copy/move across to retain any ‘edits’ to my RAW images?

And what else can I do, or not do, in the short term to make the transfer easier?

Hope that makes sense.

you need the xmp sidecar in the same folder as your RAW file, so it keep what you’ve done.

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So, if I copy across the folders that contain the DNG and the XMP files, PL will open the DNG and ‘apply’ any edits if it finds the matching XMP file right?

You might need to manually force the export / import of metadata. I think that you need the Preferences->Advanced->Automatically export sidecars and Preferences->Advanced->Automatically import sidecars boxes ticked to avoid having to force the use of XMPs by hand.

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Image edits are indeed only in PL’s DOP sidecar files, not in the XMP files, so you need to copy those too. Make sure you have ‘Automatically export sidecars’ turned on in preferences on the Windows system.

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if you are to work on PC and MAC, i would import your images from your cards to a portable drive and work from there, so you can plug it on either PC or MAC and your files are… there.
they are cheaper than they used to be and run fast, i’d get 2 and use the second as a copy of the first and at the same time you have a backup (who doesn’t’ really have backup?) not to loose anything.

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@ChrisH a few notes on what others have written above

  1. There is no compatibility between the Windows and the MAC database whatsoever so database bound items, like ‘Projects’ will “die” with the Windows machine.

  2. Ensure all edits are captured in the DOPs, either by setting the ‘Preferences’ settings

and/or using


The DOP is effectively a copy of the database entries relating to the image and contains the metadata first, followed by edit data followed by the ‘Reject’ etc. Tag. This group is repeated for every (Virtual) copy created by the user, i.e. [M] (metadata, edit data, Tag), [1] (metadata, edit data, Tag), … [99](metadata, edit data, Tag) etc… My own setting preference is the ‘Preferences’ option for automatically Reading and writing DOPs.

  1. Metadata can be handled in a similar manner via the ‘Preference’ option shown in Moving PhotoLab from Windows PC to a Mac Mini - #5 by Aearenda but this is a single option that causes metadata to be read and written automatically (AS=ON), you cannot have automatic reading without automatic writing!

I typically run with this option set but also do some work where the manual options need to be used i.e.


The perceived minus seen by some users is that DxPL will write keywords back to the image in its own favourite format, which may or may not be the same format that the users favourite keyword handler provides!

If any metadata has been set in DxPL that needs to be “flushed” back to the image (for RAW that will be to the xmp sidecar) it should have been written to the image automatically (AS=ON) or will need to be flushed back to the image using the ‘File’/‘Metadata’/‘Write to Image’'command (AS=OFF but can be used regardless of the AS setting).

Any metadata read from the image automatically by DxPL or manually, or added/updated by the user in DxPL will be present in the database and, therefore, will also be in the DOP.

Once all the edit data and metadata has been brought up to date, in the images, metadata sidecars and DOP sidecars it can be transferred to the new system for “importation” by DxPL(Mac), i.e. the following are required for the Transfer to the other system

  1. The image file
  2. The xmp sidecar where applicable (only RAW Images are expected to have xmp sidecars files).
  3. DOP which contains IPTC and keyword metadata, ‘Rating’, ‘Orientation’, ‘Colour Labels’, image edits and the ‘Reject’ flag.

Such importation happens in the usual way by DxPL “discovering” the image folders and/or by using ‘indexing’.

The selection of the automatic synchronisation preference now has a new role (one I object to, it should have been a separate option) or rather it has a new role if it is not set (AS=OFF)!

If AS (automatic Synchronisation) = ON (SET) then the metadata will be taken from the image (xmp embedded or xmp sidecar) as each new image is “discovered”.

But if AS = OFF (not SET) then the metadata will be taken from the DOP as part of the first discovery process and IPTC and keyword metadata etc. in the image (embedded and/or sidecar) will be ignored!!

(While AS=ON/OFF is straightforward in normal use the additional role for first discovery should have been handled with another ‘Preference’ option, in my opinion!)

Agreed, I have USB 3 drives attached to my machines that are copies of my main drive but how do you propose to use that backup copy!? If the receiving DxPL database has no ‘Projects’ then you could simply attach the replacement drive and start discovering the directories again.

But all the old data will still be in the database attached to the original drive id! Because of that issue any ‘Project’ pointers will point to the old data which is no longer available.

So if no ‘Projects’ then backup the database, remove the database and start again using the (hopefully up-to-date) data from the backup copy!

If ‘Projects’ exist then you have one of the following option options

  1. Assign the old drive identity to the backup drive using a system utility, which implies you have that identity (it will be in the DxPL database of course).
  2. Hack the database (after making one or two database backups) and change the drive identifier in the ‘Folders’ structure (that is the Windows identifier for the database Table) to the identifier of the replacement backup copy.
  3. Vote for DxO making the process a whole lot easier but that won’t take the “sting” out of the problem until any such feature is implemented!!
  4. Abandon the existing database with the ‘Projects’ and start with a new database!!

Hope that doesn’t sound too scary.

While I can help on the Windows side I know nothing about Macs!



PS:- If you have your data on an external drive and decide to move to a machine with the same OS then you should be able to take the database to the new machine and attach the same external drive. I believe my testing (on Win 10) indicated that the UUID of the drive took precedence over the drive letter, i.e. the drive letter on the new system does not matter.

But you cannot carry the database from Windows to Mac.


Thanks @BHAYT for that in-depth process. It does make me wonder about my initial choice of going to a Mac and/or starting with a Windows machine. I think I’ll do some ‘testing’ to see how I feel. I don’t mind getting into the weeds a little, but not at the expense of enjoying my hobby.

For this reason, I don’t do any keywording in PhotoLab. PL sees my keywords (set in Mylio), and ratings seem to transfer well, but I only ever let it happen in one direction - from Mylio to PhotoLab.

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I haven’t tested Mylio but I have tested a number of other programs with keywords in the past and most of the rumours that have circulated in the forum are not true.

I produced a spreadsheet showing exactly what DxPL will do to keywords some time ago because while it might not write the keywords back to the image with AS(OFF) set (unless the user forces a write back) they will still be included in any exports from DxPL.

It is sensible to undertake any metadata handling in one program but when the image is then reviewed in DxPL ‘Rating’ and ‘Color Labels’ the user might well want to change them and do those changes just remain in DxPL?

Although I have IMatch I find DxPL much easier to use for basic purposes so I am interested in the interaction with other metadata handling software, including IMatch of course.

@ChrisH I am sorry I decided to try to provide as much accurate data as possible but having done that the options are actually reasonably simple.

  1. In all cases it is not possible to carry ‘Projects’ from one database to another even on the same platform.

  2. Effectively the three items, i.e. image, DOP and xmp sidecar(for Raws) are all that is needed to be able to ship the images from and to another platform, even on the same OS, and “rebuild” the database (excluding ‘Projects’ on Win and ‘Projects’ and ‘Advanced History’ on the Mac, i.e. that data is not held in the DOP)

So start using the Windows laptop, safe in the knowledge that you can take the images anywhere with the image + DOP + xmp sidecar(if available) and don’t let that influence your decision about the Mac mini.

I did think about going down the Mac mini route rather than buy a new graphics card for my PC but I have way too much invested in Windows software so I bought a new graphics card for my existing PC and then decided to build a new Win 10 system, just to complicate things!

PS:- Regardless of the AS setting if there is no DOP with an image when it is discovered by DxPL for the first time then metadata will always be taken from the image.

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dop file windows/mac aren’t compatible, only the xmp files. you can’t start working on an image on PC and finish it on MAC. but you’ll have all you pictures to work with.
the only other option is to run “parallel desktop” on your mac to have windows like on your pc. M chip aren’t like it was when it was Intel, you can’t just intall Windows on MAC anymore and choose which system to use when you boot it. but this option is mostly if you have to work on PC and need Windows like for normal every day work.

@mikerofoto I have successfully opened MAC DOPs on Windows and there have been forum discussions before about moving DOPs between system!?

What system do you run on or which systems do you run on?

I included and image and a (Win10, PL7) DOP here Default Lens Softness Correction - #6 by BHAYT if a MAC user wants to see if they can be accessed from DxPL(Mac)?

i don’t have PC anymore, too old and too slow i7 Win10 from over a decade ago, couldn’t even update windows to Microsoft latest released of Win10.
but if it work now switching one platform to the other than that’s good news, every software should be comaptible this way now a days.

@mikerofoto thank you for the update but you might be right!

@platypus can you help with this issue?

…if it’s about the following…

…I could recommend the following:

  1. Make sure that all image files have updated .dop sidecars and XMP entries
    (for all images, no matter whether they are RAW or any other format)
    Making sure of this is a pain in DPL, because it cannot act on a tree of folders but on individual folders only. Use manual export/write to and check if change dates relate to the time when you exported/wrote to files.
  2. Copy the complete tree of photo folders to an external drive, then copy that tree to an appropriate location on your Mac, probably the “Pictures” folder in your home folder.
  3. Open DPL on Mac, check the settings, quit DPL and restart it
  4. Open DPL on Mac and select the root of your photo folder tree on Mac
  5. ctrl-click on that root folder and mak DPL index that folder. Note that this can take some time, let DPL do its job and see if the process spits out a few errors or not.

If you’e used custom presets, export those to the external drive and import them in DPL on Mac. Copy over all items that make up your watermark (if you use them) and any DCP profiles that you’ve used. Other than that, I’d profit from the occasion to set up DPL on Mac from scratch, revisit settings, workspace settings etc. for a close to clean install. If you want to rearrange/rename parts of your photo archive folders, do that before getting into step 4 above.

The important items are those you put some effort into like images, customizing, metadata, presets and others.

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@platypus but does DxPL(Mac) accept DxPL(Win) DOPs unconditionally?

I haven’t tested it since PL5, where there were time zone handling differences between Mylio and PL. Nevertheless, I’m a fan of there being only one source of truth for metadata!

Update: I have now briefly tested interop between PL7 and Mylio, and am happy to report that the image date/time, simple keywords, labels and ratings did transfer both ways successfully in my test. Mylio doesn’t understand hierarchic keywords and ignores DOP sidecars, so it’s not a perfect match, but pretty good.

Thanks everyone. It seems that I can safely start using it on one machine and then move across to another, provided I’m mindful of the relevant files. In the short term I’m likely to only do ‘basic’ editing anyway as RAW editing is new to me.

…if you start from scratch, you could spare yourself some effort. Just copy the photo archive over to the Mac and start editing. That is like in film photography, where every print is unique, because it has to be made from a negative that does not remember your edits.


@John-M and I have exchanged sidecars which seemed to work seamlessly, even though their structure us different. Also, DxO introduced such interoperability a few years ago, when PhotoLab was still OpticsPro - if I remember correctly.

Caveat: Even though sidecars are interchangeable, it does nit mean that output files will look identical. There are differences in DPL for Mac/Win after all.