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How to Sync The Pictures Folder Between Two Macs

1. INTRODUCTION

2. BEFORE GETTING STARTED

BACKUP

IDENTICAL VERSIONS OF macOS

SYSTEM FILES AND APPLICATIONS

PHOTOS

3. PICTURES FOLDER SPECIFIC SETUP

CREATE MASTER PHOTOS LIBRARY

BACKUP NON-CHRONOSYNC MAC PICTURES FOLDER

EMPTY PICTURES FOLDER ON NON-CHRONOSYNC MAC

4. CREATE, SET UP & RUN

STEP 1. CREATE A NEW SYNC TASK

STEP 2. CHOOSE THE OPERATION

STEP 3. ENABLE ADMIN ACCESS

STEP 4. CHOOSE YOUR TARGETS

STEP 5. ENABLE SYNCHRONIZE DELETIONS

STEP 6. ENABLE ARCHIVING

STEP 7. CUSTOMIZE THE OPTIONS PANEL

STEP 8. EXCLUDE FILES OR FOLDERS

STEP 9. RUN THE SYNC

5. WATCH FOR CONFLICTS

3 THINGS TO REMEMBER

6. SCHEDULING

7. WHEN THINGS GO WRONG

CHRONOSYNC HELP

TECHNICAL SUPPORT

1. INTRODUCTION [top]

This guide is linked as part of the Sync The Home Folder Between Macs Using ChronoSync guide. It will detail how to create a synchronizer task to keep your Pictures subfolder in sync between two Macs.

Also, this guide assumes you already have ChronoSync installed on your primary Mac, and ChronoAgent installed on the Mac you will be syncing these folders to. If you don't already have this setup, just review the 'Setup Steps' in the Sync The Home Folder Between Macs Using ChronoSync guide.

Many of the steps performed can be accomplished by using a standard file sharing connection and you technically don't need to install ChronoAgent. However, ChronoAgent offers better performance, security and reliability versus a standard file connection. It also eliminates common problems, such as permission errors, that typically occur when using standard file sharing.

2. BEFORE GETTING STARTED [top]

As a reminder from the Sync Home Folder guide, there are some cautions you should take before embarking on keeping one or more of your Home subfolders in sync:

BACKUP [top]

Before running any sync for the first time, make sure to backup all data on each Mac in the event something goes wrong. Since home-to-home files syncs are usually bi-directional syncs (syncing files both directions), this is especially important. When running any sync, ChronoSync can archive any changed or deleted file. Having this archive is extremely convenient in case of emergencies but restoring from it can be a bit unwieldy. It is much easier to restore files from a backup so we do recommend taking the time to do so.

IDENTICAL VERSIONS OF macOS [top]

Home subfolder syncs must only be done between identical versions of macOS. For example, do not attempt to sync between Sierra and High Sierra, and avoid syncing between different versions of the same OS (10.13.1 vs 10.13.2).

Also for home subfolder syncs, ensure all apps such as Photos, iTunes and Calendar are the same version. Of course personal files, including documents, raw media files, downloads, etc., can be synchronized or backed up to any macOS version or any device accessible via Finder using the Mac on which ChronoSync is installed.

SYSTEM FILES AND APPLICATIONS [top]

Never attempt to sync files outside of the home folder such as 'Applications', 'System', or 'Library' between two Macs. Problems can arise if these files are synced, easily resulting in application failure or a corrupt OS. In syncing two Macs, the focus needs to be on the home folder and the data files stored therein.

PHOTOS [top]

Make sure you have the same version of Photos on both Macs in order to synchronize the Pictures folder which contains your Photos library. However, image files, like .jpg files, can be synced between any OS that your Mac can copy to, including Windows.

3. PICTURES FOLDER SPECIFIC SETUP [top]

The Pictures folder is where image files are generally stored. It is also the location of the Photos library. The Photos Library is a single package file that contains all of the images within the library in addition to other files and folders that make the library function. It can be synced back and forth between two Macs as long as a few rules are followed: always run the sync when switching Macs and always run the sync from the same task document.

CREATE MASTER PHOTOS LIBRARY [top]

The first step in syncing the Pictures folder is to create a master Photos library on one of the Macs. This guide assumes that you use the ChronoSync Mac to create the master Photos library.

Of course, this all assumes that you don't already use iCloud to keep your photo libraries in sync. If that is the case, you don't need to go any further and instead allow iCloud to handle keeping the libraries in sync. It is suggested that if you do use iCloud for synchronizing this type of media, you should simply exclude your Photos library from any home-to-home syncs that you may be performing, using the Analyze panel's Exclude function.

BACKUP NON-CHRONOSYNC MAC PICTURES [top]

On the Mac that doesn't have the master Photos Library, make a backup of the Pictures folder before running any syncs. You could simply drag the Pictures folder to your desktop, or use ChronoSync to create a backup of that folder on an external drive or NAS.

EMPTY PICTURES FOLDER ON NON-CHRONOSYNC MAC [top]

Open the Pictures Folder on the Mac that does not have the master library and drag the contents to the Trash. You need to start with an empty Pictures folder so that the first sync will result in everything from the Master library on the ChronoSync Mac replacing all Pictures files and folders on the non-ChronoSync Mac. Just don't delete the parent Pictures folder located in your Home folder.

4. CREATE, SET UP & RUN [top]

Follow the steps below to create, configure and run the synchronizer task to sync your Pictures folder between two Macs.

STEP 1. CREATE A NEW SYNC TASK [top]

Launch ChronoSync. Upon launch, the ChronoSync Organizer window is displayed. Choose 'Create a new synchronizer task'. If the ChronoSync Organizer window isn't visible, choose 'ChronoSync Organizer' from the 'Window' menu. Give the task a meaningful name such as 'Sync Pictures Folder Between MBP and Mini'.

One of the greatest advantages of ChronoSync is that once you set up a sync task, all the information that you specified in the task is saved - that includes all the options and rules! Furthermore, a task document keeps track of changes between every sync which allows ChronoSync to know what has changed since the last synchronization.

Sync Bidirectionally

STEP 2. CHOOSE THE OPERATION [top]

Choose 'Synchronize Bidirectional' from the Operation popup menu. A bi-directional synchronization is performed by selecting the most 'up- to-date' file between the two targets and making sure that file is synchronized to the other target.






STEP 3. ENABLE ADMIN ACCESS [top]

Choose 'Mounted Volumes(Admin Access)' from the 'Connect to:' popup menu in the Left Target Pane. Since our example utilizes a connection to ChronoAgent running on another Mac, Admin Access grants ChronoSync the authority to update file ownership and group membership settings to match the user account on each of the two Macs.

Admin access allows you to access file ownership

STEP 4. CHOOSE YOUR TARGETS [top]

Understanding the concept of targets is important to simplify the synchronization set up. We often refer to the targets as the source and destination, or left and right. Generally, the source target or 'Left Target' is the Mac that ChronoSync is installed on. The destination target or 'Right Target' is the Mac running ChronoAgent that you connect to. It can be helpful to have a meaningful name instead of 'Left' and 'Right' Target. To use more meaningful names, just click on the 'Left Target' and 'Right Target' labels and specify a custom name such as 'iMac' and 'MacBook Pro' to make things more understandable.

On the Setup panel, choose the targets. This is done by clicking the respective "Choose..." button for each of the targets. This will drop down a file selection sheet for you to choose the desired folder.

In this example, choose the Pictures folder for the Left Target by navigating to your home folder, selecting the Pictures folder, and clicking 'Select'.

Choose connection profile to sync to remote mac

For the right target, click the 'Connect to:' popup menu and locate the name of the ChronoAgent Connection Profile you created when performing the 'Setup Steps' in the "Sync The Home Folder Between Macs Using ChronoSync" Guide. If you don't have your connection profile setup, then review the Setup Steps in the above guide to learn how to create the Connection Profile.








Now that you have the ChronoAgent connection set, click the 'Choose' button in the Right Target pane and navigate through the folders on the remote Mac to locate the 'Pictures' folder you want to sync to on that remote Mac.

Setup panel with target selected

STEP 5. ENABLE SYNCHRONIZE DELETIONS [top]

In most cases, you will want deleted files from one target to also be deleted from the opposite target. To do this, turn ON the "Synchronize deletions" checkbox. When this option is turned ON, ChronoSync will delete files in the opposite target whenever it detects a deletion, keeping the two targets identical. Please note that no files will be deleted during the first synchronization because ChronoSync does not yet have a past history of any deleted files.

Enable Archiving

STEP 6. ENABLE ARCHIVING [top]

Enable "Archive replaced files" as a safeguard so all deleted items will be moved to an '_Archived Items' folder. This is useful in case a mistake is made and you want to retrieve a file that was replaced or deleted. Manage the size and growth of the '_Archived Items' folder by visiting the 'Archive Handling' section in the Options panel.


STEP 7. CUSTOMIZE THE OPTIONS PANEL [top]

Visit the Options panel and customize any settings to tailor the sync for your specific needs. Refer to ChronoSync Help for details on the options listed within this panel.

Under "Special File/Folder Handling", switch to "Custom" and match the settings below. Choose "Merge" for Package Handling. In case you're interested, here is an explanation of handling package files.

Customize Options

STEP 8. EXCLUDE FILES OR FOLDERS [top]

NOTE: The image below is only for example. It does not indicate which files or folders should be excluded.

Exclude files from sync

Sometimes there are certain types of files you do NOT want synchronized. An example would be if you did not want to sync some personal documents to the other computer. To do this, select the particular folder or file in the Analyze view, right-click (or CONTROL-click) the selection, and choose "Exclude." You can also choose "Exclude" from the Actions menu. An exclusion is denoted by an "X" in the status column and means that the file will not be considered during the synchronization process. When you exclude a file it will be ignored during the sync and when you select a folder, all of its contents will be ignored.

STEP 9. RUN THE SYNC [top]

Once you have all the above-mentioned settings in place, perform the synchronization. This can be done by choosing the "Synchronize" icon in the toolbar of the Synchronizer task document.

NOTE: It is recommended that you run a Trial Sync the very first time you perform the synchronization. That way, you can peruse the Trial Sync results to make sure you haven't made a simple configuration mistake such as selecting an incorrect target. If it looks like a lot more files than you expect will synchronize, or a sync in a direction you didn't expect, you should take a step back and double-check your configuration.

5. WATCH FOR CONFLICTS [top]

Make sure to always synchronize each time you switch over to the other computer. If you fail to do this, conflicts may arise. A conflict is when the same file has changed on both computers. Since you have to choose between one file or the other, you would lose the changes made to one of the files. If a conflict does arise, then choose the file from the computer you last used. Enabling "Archive replaced files" is a good safety net in case you choose the wrong file when resolving a conflict.

Working on two Macs simultaneously can result in unusually high numbers of Conflict errors being reported and there may be difficulty merging the changes that can occur to the same files on both Macs. Instead, consider this workflow:

To switch from Left to Right Mac:

  • Using Left Mac.
  • Run Sync from Left Mac (The ChronoSync Mac).
  • Choose "Left Files" for any conflicts.
  • Begin using Right Mac.

To switch from Right to Left Mac:

  • Using Right Mac.
  • Run Sync from Left Mac (The ChronoSync Mac).
  • Choose "Right Files" for any conflicts.
  • Begin using Left Mac.

THREE THINGS TO REMEMBER [top]

  1. Make sure to always synchronize each time you switch working to the other computer.
  2. Always run every sync from the source Mac using the same task document.
  3. If a conflict should arise, choose the file from the computer you last used.

6. SCHEDULING [top]

Since you need to synchronize every time you switch Macs, it is not practical to schedule your task. Instead, you should manually run the sync every time you switch Macs to ensure the two Macs always stay in sync. Doing this will take some getting used to, but it's a habit that should be practiced.

7. WHEN THINGS GO WRONG [top]

Setting up and configuring your task to sync your Pictures folder is pretty straightforward if you follow the steps outlined in this guide. However, we live in an imperfect world and sometimes things just don't work out as expected. If you encounter any problems following this tutorial, here's some tips that may help you get back on track:

CHRONOSYNC HELP [top]

From the "Help" menu in ChronoSync, type in the following search terms (minus the quotes):
"Package Handling"
"Setup"
"Admin Access"
"Exclude"
"Conflicts"
"Options"

TECHNICAL SUPPORT [top]

Contact our technical support team and just ask! We don’t mind — we're here to help!