How to keep photos in sync on two Mac with Luminar 3?



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    Steve Ratts

    Hi Roman this is also my workflow and I'm using a MBP on the road with a Hackintosh desktop at home.

    Good news! The solution is fairly simple. You just need an external HD that you can migrate from one machine to the other. I use a ruggedized LaCie TB/USB 3 drive. Put both your catalog and images on that drive and you will enable the workflow you've described.

    If you've already produced a catalog on both machines then you've got two different catalogs and even if you had all the images on the external dive the two catalogs would naturally have two different understandings of what edits have been done, etc. This is why you need to have both the catalog and the images on the external drive.

    One thing to note is that just like with any removable drive it's important to close the applications using it and properly eject the drive before disconnecting it from one machine and attaching it to the other. That's not a Luminar peculiarity - it's just a fact of life when using removable drives to store files. If you just yank the cord out without first closing the applications using the drive and then properly ejecting it you risk that some things may not have been properly written before you unplugged the drive and this could cause the catalog to become corrupted. So just use common sense and you'll be fine.

    Alternatively you may be able to accomplish the same thing with cloud storage such as dropbox - but that does present a new difficultly not present when using the external dive. If you go that route, then once again you'll need both the catalog and the images on the shareable cloud service. The new concern is that you must now be careful that you don't accidentally try to use the catalog with more than one machine at a time. Luminar was not designed to accommodate multiple copies of the app simultaneously manipulating the same catalog so you could very easily get a corrupted catalog that way and loose edits. I don't recommend this approach for this very reason - it may be possible, but I think it's inherently dangerous.



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    K.G. Wuensch

    Just be aware that currently the database is referring the images using the unique hardware identification of the drive they reside on. So once the drive is dead so is your library, the backup you possibly made won't work... And neither will the cloud solution.

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    Helena Carter


    Regarding the Library back up, Luminar is constantly backing up its database as you work with it.  But you can back a catalog up manually in case your hard drive has a problem. 

    To back up a catalog:

    • Go to File > Catalog > Backup.  
    • Luminar opens a dialog box that lets you choose where you want to save your backup file.  
    • To restore a backup file go to File > Catalog > Restore from Backup

    You can also backup your photos by exporting them. 

    Have a great day!

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    Steve Ratts

    Thanks Helena! That’s good to know.

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    Doug Chamberlin

    I am planning my setup right now and need to work this same way - splitting L3 editing between a laptop and a desktop machine and keeping all work synchronized between them. I was initially planning on duplicating the image folders between each computer and using my favorite utility to synchronize them. But I now realize I need to do something similar to the L3 catalogs if I want to retain editing history between the computers.

    I am alarmed at the above comment that the L3 catalog associates the images with a specific hard drive and if that hard drive is replaced the editing history stored in the catalog will be lost. Can someone from Skylum confirm this?

    Also, can someone elaborate the details so I can understand exactly what is being done by L3? I can handle any level of tech detail you can provide.


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    Steve Ratts

    Hi Doug,

    Good news and bad news.

    First the good news. Skylum added a feature a while back to find missing photos which is intended to have the side benefit of helping if you ever migrate your catalog from one drive to another. I've not tesed this capability myself, but as I understand things its supposed to be able to get you going again if you backed up your catalog then restore to a different drive (after a disk upgrade or HD failure, for example).

    Now the bad news. To the best of my knowledge the only way to get files AND all their edits from one catalog to another is to export each file you want to do this with as a lmnr file (like what used to be saved in Luminar 2018). So, if like me, you'd like to work on a laptop sometimes, then merge things back to your desktop later to continue work you're in for a rather tedious time and disk space gobbling process. It would be great if they had a way to import imaged with edits from one catalog to another, but they don't.

    Another way around this, which I documented in an earlier post, is to keep your catalog on an external HD and move *that* from machine to machine. This has the plus side of being far faster than exporting files in .lmnr format.



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    Kate Williams

    Hi Doug, 

    At the moment, the same catalog can be shared between several computers only if it's located on an external drive. Please mind that these computers need to have the same OS. 

    As for replacing the hard drive: Steve is correct - we have added the option to Locate Folder. Thus you can move your Luminar Library to a new computer or a drive which will take all of your edits to the new machine/drive. If your photos are stored on an external hard drive the library should be able to detect that external drive on your new computer/drive and you'll be able to pick up where you left off.

    If the images are located on your internal hard drive, you'll need to copy those files to the new computer/drive and then point the folders in your Luminar library to their new location (right-click the folder with a warning triangle next to it and select "Locate Folder"). 



    @Steve, unfortunately, .lmnr  (project) files cannot be saved in Luminar 3. 

    We’ll add the ability to save project files later but at the moment I don’t have a timeline for that.

    A workaround to recall settings you used for a project would be as follows:

    1. Open a photo in L3.
    2. Edit it.
    3. In the Edit panel on the right click Save Luminar Look.
    4. Enter a descriptive name.

    This won’t save layers but your filter settings will be saved. As a bonus, you’ll be able to instantly apply the settings you used for a certain project to other projects.

    If you need to re-edit a photo, load an unedited copy of it in Luminar and apply the look you saved in Step 4 to it (the look will be located in the User Looks category). You'll get the exact same filters and settings that you used for this project before.

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    Doug Chamberlin

    Thank you all for responding. I need clarification on a couple of things.

    First, the Luminar catalog is mainly in the one *.luminar" file but also has cache folders created and maintained near it.

    Can the catalog file be renamed outside of Luminar and still fully function if the File|Catalog|Open... menu choice is used? I'm thinking of naming catalogs after clients or other big divisions of work.

    Can more than one catalog be open in Luminar at one time? I assume not, but like library folders, maybe they can.

    Can each catalog and associated cache folders be freely moved from place to place and remain fully functional when opened? I saw a mention of "same OS" needed when moving an external drive between computers. If that is a requirement, how strict is it? Can I move a catalog from Windows 10 machine and use it on Windows 7 machine?

    While using one catalog, I think I can add several root folders containing images to the library. These are located on different drives and have many sub-folders. If one of those drives is not accessible at any time the folder(s) become greyed out but will automatically come back when next accessible. Maybe it will take a re-start of Luminar to bring them back, but that is OK. All this is good and smartly done.

    I now understand that if a folder structure in the library is moved to a new physical hard drive it will be greyed out and have an alert icon showing. The "Locate Folder" action will allow me to indicate where this folder structure is now located so it can be recognized again by Luminar. Is this generally correct?

    I guess that is more than a few things!

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    Maryna Skylum

    @Doug Chamberlin

    1. Yes, you can rename a Catalog folder. Please, do not rename the .luminar file. Then you can use the File - Catalog  - Open option to open a desired Catalog.
    2. Only one Catalog can be opened at a time.
    3. To relocate a Luminar Catalog:

      • Make sure Luminar is closed.
      • Go to %username%\Pictures\ if you're on Mac, or C:/Users/User Name/Pictures if you're on Windows. If you specified a custom location for your catalog, search your custom location.
      • Relocate the Luminar Catalog folder.
      • Go to Luminar 3 - File - Catalog - Open and choose the location of the Luminar Catalog.
    4. The same OS is required if you want to use the same Catalog on two computers. In this case, we suggest that your folders with photos have to be located on an external drive as well as a Catalog.
    5. Yes, if a folder has a yellow triangle, please use the Locate Folder option.

    Do not hesitate to contact us at if any questions arise.

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    Doug Chamberlin

    "Same OS" does not answer my question.

    Can I move a catalog from Windows 10 machine and use it on Windows 7 machine?

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    Anna Veres

    Hi Doug, 

    Yes, you can. 

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