Workflow and/or Preference settings in DXO PL4.3.1 for a two computer workflow

DXO PL4 .3.1 Problem with some data for same images in same file folders viewed and/or processed on two different windows 10 Pro computers—a Laptop and a Desktop. Need instructions on a two computer workflow with DXOPL4 on both computers. I just submitted this to Support, but you might have some ideas too.

Problem description:
(1) Unwanted Virtual copies of RAW files appear in the same file folder as the Master file when the file folders are opened in DXO-PL4.3.1 on my Laptop. This happens only when the file folders with the same images have been processed on my Desktop and then copied back to my Laptop using an external hard drive. My workflow starts with my Laptop where images are downloaded, culled, saved and copied to an external hard drive and copied to and processed on my Desktop before being copied back to my Laptop. See Workflow for more information.

(2) Star ratings in most of the images in processed file folders are attached to the Virtual copy and not the Master. Sometimes the star ratings are on the Master but not the virtual copy. There is no consistency as to what may happen in each file folder as it appears that some random function is at play regarding: number of virtual copies, rating applied to M or virtual copy, or image file in file folder looking just right. Problem usually occurs with each file folder copied, but not always. With Star ratings showing up in virtual folder, there is no easy fix as deleting all unneeded Virtual copies means I have to rate the M images all over again. And I see no reason to delete the Master files.

(3) Keywords added to images during processing on the Desktop to not appear correctly on the RAW Master or virtual copy. However, keywords do show up correctly on created and saved Jpegs and Tiffs created in DXO PL4 on the Desktop. The keywords that do appear on the Laptop seem to be only those created during initial image download to Laptop using Downloader Pro with XMP files.

(4) Stated more simply, does DXO PL4 allow for an efficient workflow involving more than one windows computer? If yes, what is that two computer workflow and what Preferences or other settings or steps do I have to do to make sure I have one set of keywords, Star Ratings and one RAW image to view consistent across both computers’ file folders?

I have had this same or similar problem with every version of DXO PL I have used since I first started using the program. I thought DXO-PL4.3.1 with the fix for sidecar files addressed these issues. I did report this same issue to Support a few years ago.

My guess is that the source of the problem might be the information if the file folders labeled “DXO PhotoLab 4 logs”. On both of my computers these are at C :> Documents> Dxo Photolab 4 Logs. But since C: is different for each computer, my guess is that the log information is different and is not getting copied to the Laptop’s C drive. The file folders on both computers all seem to have the same number of files: NEF, XMP and DOP.


To use PhotoLab coherently on more than one computer is not directly supported yet: The relevant element of PL, its database, exists on each computer and there is no built-in way to synchronize these databases. They contain informations (e.g. keywords) that are not written to sidecar files too.

The topic has been addressed with a few workaround hints - in a thread somewhere on the forum.

Oh no, this is still not resolved? My (and other users) radical solution is to delete the Photolab database and rely only on dop sidecars.

When I investigated the problem initially (years ago), I found that DxO treats network drives differently (doesn’t create virtual copies) from local folders but I can’t remember a confirmation about this behavior.

@DxO: This needs to be documented!

I don’t consider Photolab a good tool to manage user provided metadata. I use Photolab as a RAW processor but not as a DAM.

As long as user provided metadata like star ratings and keywords is not handled “the right way” (in a XMP sidecar of a raw file), I strongly advise to use a “real” digital asset management (DAM).

There is a long lasting dispute whether DxO should integrate DAM into Photolab. There are so many pitfalls with it.

There are examples of photo processing software f***ing up your valuable metadata out there, therefore i have strong reservations.


I appreciate the responses. I have no problem using a third party program for keywords and star ratings to overcome and avoid this issue with DXO PL4. I would probably use Phot Mechanic.

If I were to use Photo Mechanic, I still would need guidance on what settings are needed in DXO PL4 Preferences to make sure all would work well.

DXO–please add to your priority list reliance on sidecar files that accompany the RAW files for consistent keyword and ratings across multiple computers. I fail to see how you will get more subscribers if something as basic as this is not addressed.

If it is addressed in DXO PL4, please tell me and others how to set up and use DXO PL4 on more than one computer. I found no reference to multiple computers in the User Guide. And there was little reference to DOP files too.

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Be sure to check, which version is the right one. Thoroughly test what info is transmitted and how.

I use Photo Mechanic Plus for keywording and for culling. I use Star ratings to select photos for processing in PL4 and in PL4 simply filter out any photos with 0 stars which gives me photos to process. If I reject any of my starred photos I mark it as rejected using the red/green marks. Red photos are also filtered out in PL4.

Keywords are read by PL4 but I do not do any keywording in PL4.

@KeithRJ, using PhotoMechanic Plus has the same fundamental problem when used on two computers. Its catalog/database cannot be synchronized between computers, PMP has no such function as far as I’ve read from their wiki.

Anyway, a two computer setup can be used if the two computers are used without the desire/need to exchange metadata bidirectionally.

  • use computer 1 to cull and only cull
  • use computer 2 for all the rest

One other way would be to

  • copy database of computer 2 to computer 1
  • ingest new photos on computer 1
  • cull and keyword on computer 1
  • copy database of computer 1 to computer 2
  • copy new photos from C1 to C2
  • do the rest on computer 2

The one issue with this is to make sure that the databases are copied before something is done that changes the databases.

Not many solutions out there that support working on two computers with total and automatic control/ sync of those computers…

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@platypus, I did not read the title properly and was simply responding to renaming files on a single computer where both LR and PL is used. Hope I did not confuse anyone :frowning:

It may do the same as Photo Supreme where if you copy images with their sidebars over to more computers its data base is updated when you add the images to it. This isn’t the same as a central data base, but when using a laptop away that’s not practical either. I copy current year imiges from the desk PC to laptop and update the It may do the same as Photo Supreme where if you copy image’s with there sidebars over to more computers its data base is updated when you add the images to it. By keeping images updated in current year between laptop and PC both versions of Photo Supreme have identical data bases.

Another thanks for the informative and thoughtful answers. I am still surprised to learn that Photo Mechanic may not allow for consistent information across databases on two different computers. The free Nikon software that I used to use for culling and Star rating my Nikon RAW images never had any issues with a two computer setup. Those programs were Nikon View NXi and Nikon NX D along with earlier versions of them back to 2006 when I went digital. Those programs are now integrated into one called Nikon NX Studio. I have not used it to see if it is free of any two computer workflow issues.

The issue of multiple computers and databases is that most programs these days use SQLite as the database which is not really designed as a multi user database and most of these programs do not support multi user access to their database. If they did then the database could be shared between computers.

If you really want to share the database you can put it on a shared drive but make sure you only use one copy of PL to access the database at a time. I have not tested this but it may not even work.

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One can move sets of photos between Photo Mechanic installs. The whole database does not go. Two-way sync is the bugbear of almost all software development, easily eating up two-thirds of development time and resulting in the most damage to user data. One way sync to a central master is a much more robust model. Be careful what you wish for.

I’d like Photolab to avoid these issues by dropping the database approach altogether and just read and write to XMP and .dop files. as much info as possible should be written into XMP, as that data is mostly easily exchanged between programs.


This issue falls apart mainly on the key wording aspect.

If you can use some sort of shared drive and you have PL4 write and read sidecar files then I think it should work okay. It may even work if two computers are editing different images in the same directory. The edits are written to the DOP files and the database really doesn’t matter. They can be different (again. Keywords excluded)

The keyword problem is a real problem though. If you ask me keywords and edit history should be stored in the dop file.

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The issue of multiple computers and databases is that most programs these days use SQLite as the database which is not really designed as a multi user database

Good old Aperture was able to import/export projects as libraries. I’m still upset that Phil Schiller killed it. Ok, it wasn’t a true multi user experience but at least is was possible and very easy to transfer individual projects between computers and merge them back into a master library.

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I’m currently evaluating to use Mylio as my central DAM solution. The peer to peer syncing between devices is unmatched. Kind of Dropbox especially targeted for pictures and videos. It is capable to hold over a million photos on a device like an iPhone. In fact you don’t have to decide which portion of your library you keep on your laptop, tablet and phone at a certain time. You simply have your whole library on all devices all the time. Very impressive. Of course not the originals on all devices but you can tweak it down to the folder level on each device whether you want the originals, previews or thumbnails stored. And you can always retrieve the original even over the internet on demand from another Mylio instance that has the original. Ideally you have Mylio running 24/7 on an old Mac mini (or Intel NUC for Windows users) with an USB harddrive attached holding the originals.
Any downsides? Yes, Mylio’s editing tools do not work in combination with DXO’s editing tools. Which means you basically either do quick edits in Mylio or discard the Mylio edits and start from scratch in DXO. And Mylio currently does not sync the .dop files, only the .xmls. I’m nagging the Mylio developers for months to include .dop files in the sync and even discussed it with Mylio’s CEO privately. He acknowledged the value this would add to DXO users but fears it might break other apps if Mylios moves/renames proprietary metadata files while the other app is running. I don’t think, this would happen with DXO PL and .dop files but understand his reservations.
Is this a showstopper? Depends on whether you plan to move and rename a lot of pictures within Mylio. Then it might be hard to keep .dop files linked to their image files.
My ultimate dream DAM/editing combo would be, if DXO and Mylio would cooperate in a way, that Mylio supports .dop files in their syncing engine and incorporates the DXO image editing engine, so Mylio can directly create thumbnails and previews from a RAW with the edits stored in the .dop file. Thus we could see the effect of edits made in DXO directly in Mylio without the need to do an export from DXO. Plus Mylio adds the most basic DXO PL tools into their edit module, which would allow us to do quick basic edits with the trusted DXO tools on the fly and later refine them in Photolabs with the advanced tools. In return DXO could feature Mylio as their preferred external DAM and offer a free 1 year plan of Mylio with each purchase of DXO Photolab Elite. I’m sure most people would renew their subscription once they are accustomed to the seamless workflow.
Win/Win situation for both companies and DXO could concentrate their development on their image editing suit instead of wasting resources in working on a DAM that realistically never will reach a state to match their excellent editing suit.

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Thanks for the detailed Mylio report. This is exactly the kind of partnerships which DxO should be seeking for Photolab. I disagree that the partnerships should be exclusive but this would be the right track to access large pockets of photographers who need/want better processing but want to keep working with their existing image management system.

Partisan warfare is the way to win against the massive field army of Adobe.

The same strategy will also succeed against PhaseOne/CaptureOne who like Adobe trying to shoehorn users into a C1 one only workflow with an imposed workflow (it’s incredibly inconvenient to process individual images with C1, one has to set up a project to do so; I’ve tried the workarounds, they all stink). Photolab is still quite well-behaved when opening individual images from another program. This legacy interoperability from the days of Optics Pro is one element which keeps me firmly in the DxO Photolab camp (of course the image processing is first rate, as is the workflow and the U-point local adjustment system).

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I sustain this or at least want to be sure that dop files are the main source of information. That would solve your issue with multiple computers.

I developed my own solution to manage IPTC-XMP tags with 4D and Exiftool ; it produces another sidecar file json because I don’t want to modify ARW files ; it could be a xml file but I find json more human readable and exiftool can produce the Twitter.
I integrate tags in the picture when exporting for external uses (internet sites for instance).
But I think it would be easy for DxO to do the same.
I would have a renaming feature that renames all files at the same time : raw, jpeg original and developed, sidecars.

The main source is the database. Managing assets in DPL requires the database, because some information is not written to .dop sidecars.

“Some information not written to dop sidecars” really needs to be fixed. Honestly DXO may consider this a new feature request. I consider it a bug fix.


MikeR is quite right. This is very bad behaviour by DxO. All data should be written to either the XMP sidecars (ratings, labels, keywords) and DOP sidecars (image development information, except perhaps for crop which could be covered by XMP and therefore made cross-compatible with Photo Mechanic and Lightroom). Anyone on the development side of DxO who is gradually trying to sneak in data to the database without recording it in the DOP is effectively sabotaging the work of a huge proportion of Photolab users. As it is now, while Photolab is an excellent RAW developer (the very best for high ISO), it is a slow and clumsy and extremely limited photo manager. Trying to force Photolab RAW development users to use Photolab as a photo manager is an own goal.

@platypus Would it be possible for you to summarise what data is not being written into the DOP files, please?