Synchronise PhotoLab

Using two (or more) computers is not technically supported by PhotoLab yet.


  • Add a (set of) feature(s) that allows to use PhotoLab consistently with two or more computers.

Note: This complements the items mentioned in Database Maintenance and other similar posts.


  • BASE computer: Big calibrated screen, good ergonomic workspace
  • SATELLITE computer: Usually a laptop, used while traveling
  • Goal: Ergonomically work on images that have been taken (and possibly been rated and keyworded) in the field

How-To (triggered manually, no automatic sync, please)

  • Put PhotoLab in a mode that disallows changes
  • Copy SATELLITE database to BASE and find differences (items, settings, metadata)
  • Create a cop job, then copy images (with enclosing folders, ask for target location) and add necessary items to the database
  • Run a consistency check
  • Delete SATELLITE DB from BASE computer
  • Put PhotoLab in a mode that allows changes


  • While the above describes a one-way “integration” process, it can be applied in both directions.
  • For ease of implementation, limit functionality to sync two equal versions of PhotoLab.
  • Use a separate tab to ensure that changes are impossible?

and because I’m not sure if it works today "Synchronisation has to be work between MAC and WIN, and if possible between DPL4 and 5. My main Desktop is Windows and for the moment I work there with version 4, and for testing I work on my MBA with version 5, but always with copy of my main picture folder for testing only
I have not tried this and I know there will be some bottlenecks, because for example some features are new in 5 and not possible in 4, but maybe with some messages shown if one of this cases appears???

It’s like the messages you got opening documents between Office versions or so

Well, @Guenterm, if DxO can make it work between different versions of PL as well as platforms (and combinations thereof), I’m certainly not going to veto the new - extended - feature!

Hi @platypus,

sometimes I don’t believe in my dreams myself :sleeping: :joy:

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Not sure I fully understand what you want but what you propose looks like a very complex workflow. With the actual version PL when you transfer photos you can also transfer the dop files created by Photolab when applying any customization, this dop files contain all the customizations, meta data of the photo and keyword you may have assigned to. It is also possible to automatiquement create XMP sidecars compatible with most all photo editors. Personally I just use a sync files utility between my laptop and my desktop.

I want PhotoLab to do it - without getting the database inconsistent in the process and without having the user to know anything about sync details, access rights etc.

Maybe it looks complicated, but nothing needs to be done that is other than ordinary. I also want DxO to act more seriously in handling their own database. “Delete the database to solve a problem” is not a solution, it’s a workaround at best.



we discussed it a long time ago, and asked why not to implement a simple function like in LR that every time you close LR getting a message with the the choice to backup your catalog/databas or skip this step.
So you have an automated scenario without needing third party software, or to know how to do within your operating system…

I cannot see what you ask in any photo management program, even Lightroom, considered by many to be the best photo management program, cannot sync between two computers. You described something very specific to answer your needs but doing this in a flexible enough way to satisfy the different needs of different users will require creating something super complex. Only managing the photos as files requires options like two ways Sync, one way update, Mirror, customizable mix of these and considers the sources and destinations, the date/time, the file type, the size and so on, with options to keep or deletes files depending of various criterias. Adding to these basic options, and in order to satisfy different users, the app will have to consider the photographic characteristics from 300+ differents metadata fields of a digital images, the images customization, eventually the contents discovered by AI, the keywords, all of this while maintaining the database integrity.
I agree that what you propose feel right, and yes there is a lot of shortcoming in PL5 catalogue function, it is very new and I hope it will be improve in the next iteration of PL, but this is a sub 200$ photo editing app for everyone, running on a personal computer, it is not a dedicated digital asset management program.
Using a files sync app and the sidecars to export/import between systems or App is certainly not perfect but much more feasible

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@Guenterm but a backup is not exactly the same as syncing a database? CaptureOne also asks from time to time to backup the database and I see it as one possible way to react once C1 crashes. But it’s not a cross backup, so I could not use the backup “as it is” on the laptop to carry on. And back home then backup again back to the main Mac.

EDIT: The sense of “so I could … use the backup “as it is” on …” did completely say the opposite of that I wanted to say, sorry, need to check more carefully.

I agree with the objective, I have the same requirement: one mobile computer when on the go, for early workflow tasks like sorting and selecting, and doing some image manipulation on those that get me enthusiastic, and a standard computer with multiple nice screens to do all the other image manipulations.

However, using dop sync on both machine is already almost working fine if you move the files with their sidecar, or using a big external SSD drive with good USB3.1 connectivity (excepted some recent issues with rating and select/reject status that need to be addressed and fixed).

I said almost because in this scenario what is missing is the project assignment. I hope that one of my feature requests, having project assignment added to the dop file, will be implemented to help to cover a part of this scenario.

I doubt mixing multiple PL versions is a viable solution, that would require backward edition on the older versions, make any new features more complex to implement and I think it’s not reasonable to spend effort on this when a lot of others features are still lacking.

Maybe what you may do, on Windows at least, would be to move the database to the external drive where your images are stored ? Having that it’s assigned to the same drive letter on both computers, and that the drive is performant in both machines. But this need to be carefully tested.

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What is being asked for is what looks like a server version which some dams do, as very expensive versions

Mylio does all this - but it’s primarily an asset manager, which is why I use PL as well, and it doesn’t carry sidecars apart from the XMP files. Getting sync right is hard for the developers.

Exposure X explicitly allows for cross-machine sync, but doesn’t automate the sync itself. I’d be very happy if PL did this - I’m in the ‘delete the database’ camp at the moment.

Update: I want this to be launched manually, not as an automatic background task. This should make things more controllable as well as less distracting for people who don’t use the feature.

Note that this feature can be used to completely copy a PhotoLab environment (database, photos etc.) to a new computer…

your scenario has two Photolabs, so you need to be more specific.

Do you have any idea how to deal then with such differences?

I’m working with version management, synchronization etc since decades, and I can tell you that it will be not as simple as you write.

The only solution I would support is a strict “prefer image+sidecar data over database”.

With this preferene, you can use mature, proven tools to synchronize. For example “Beyond Compare”, or a SCM/VCS you like (git, Subversion…) or a sync tool (FreeFIleSync, Syncovery…).

Hi Joachim,
yes I know the difference between RAID, Backup, Synchronise and so on :grinning_face_with_smiling_eyes:
Because platypus made a very good request, I only want to place the hint for the simple backup.
During all the time I remember some posts, where people are crying for a corrupt database backup, not knowing that there is a menu entry for backup, or not knowing where the database is placed.
Not all members are interested in all the IT themes, and to make it more easy for this group of members, DXO developers could apply some smart features to make it more comfortable.

Let’s look forward to the ideas will come.

Enjoy the weekend and the 4th Advent


I posted this one in another thread.
One remark in general on synchronizing computers, it’s quite difficult to delete items. When an item is deleted on one pc it will come back with next synchronization.


@Guenterm I just corrected my post above, it was saying first “so I could use the backup “as it is” on …” which is not my experience.

Also, my laptop’s HD got it’s name “guinea pig” for a reason. The poor thing is always first in row to “try out new features” :smirk:

@George That depends on how the database is checking “which is the newer version” or the recently edited one. But you’re right, there’s a risk that things can go really wrong. And for sure some explanation and “how to deal with different databases” will become more necessary than it is now.

Would it be possible to store the database on a third, very fast drive (Y) and the two PCs (say X and Z) would backup incrementally their databases to this one? First the newer database to the “external drive in the middle”, and there a last check, before the new changes go into the “elder” database? That way I could come home, backup my new database first to the external drive and then from there to the main computer? Too complicated?

Or, like C1 does that, importing the (completely) new catalog into the main catalog? This way all new files including their edits (stored either in DOP-sidecars or database) arrive nearly the same way like new images do from cards. I don’t need two (at some point) fully identical databases. I need culling, rating and maybe a bit of editing when abroad, I don’t need access to 3 year old pictures.

I disagree, it is complex.

This would open a can of worms, I strongly advise against it.


If it’s gone one can’t compare.


Well, the database could log which file was deleted and when. How many “2012-12-17_DC3657.NEF” files would be on my drive taken at the 11:34.54 hrs? Of course, if I would work with physical copies like some do it becomes a different story. But that’s what I strictly avoid, therefore I keep forgetting that’s it’s basically possible and without some kind of file (and link) management sometimes a way to go.

But I assume: With so many users already having to find a way to work with PL and still need to manage images, therefore working with a variety of extra DAMs, DxO would not go from “working as RAW-editor” to “only working as RAW-converter/editor if the new included DAM module would be used exclusively”. With this many options available, no RAW-converter/editor would be “excellent enough” to win users who already have organized their workflow with Photo Mechanic, IView or whatever. A DxO DAM module has to be at least as good as most alternatives and not exclude long term clients.