How To Share Common Images Using Lightroom On Different Computers With Different User Names

Hi, Fanatics. Just a heads up,this is a very technical article this week!


I’m running Lightroom on two computers and, on each computer, Lightroom is running under a different user name. In an ideal world, both computers would be running under the same user name, and the path to the folders would be identical, even though they are on two different physical computers. However, the first computer is my personal desktop where I have control over the user name. The second computer is a a shared laptop where my user name was preset.

Both computers use a shared Lightroom catalog that is stored in Dropbox. That allows me to edit on the go thanks to Smart Previews. But I’ve also got a folder of stock images that I keep in Dropbox so that I can work on blog posts whether I’m at home or on the road. Because my computers are using different user names, though, the path to those stock images are different:

Desktop: /Users/dave/Dropbox/MyStockImages
Laptop: /Users/differentusername/Dropbox/MyStockImages

Since I added the stock images to my catalog on my desktop, Lightroom is expecting the stock images to be inside the user “dave” folder, but on my laptop, they’re actually located inside the “differentusername” directory. The result is the dreaded “unable to locate folder” icon.

Being an engineering nerd by trade, I knew there had to be a solution. The first thing that came to mind was a symlink. In the Linux world, there is a construct called a symbolic link (or symlink or soft link). It’s basically a pointer to another file or directory that applications think is a real file or folder. On my laptop, I created a symlink to the user folder that maps to the differentusername folder.

Because you’re touching the Users folder, you’ll need to run this command via sudo, which means your user account will need to have administrative privileges on your computer.


The magic happens with one line in the Terminal application:

sudo ln -s /Users/differentusername/ /Users/dave

The above command creates a pointer dave that maps to the home directory of differentusername. As far as Lightroom is concerned, on my laptop /Users/dave/Dropbox/MyStockImages is now a valid folder, even though in reality its simply a pointer to /Users/differentusername/Dropbox/MyStockImages. Magic! And now both computers will properly point to the Dropbox folders, making my synchronized life so much easier.

From what I can tell, this hack is not necessary if you store your plug-ins on Dropbox, like I do. Checking the Plug-in Manager with and without the symlink didn’t make a difference, and Lightroom showed the local path to the same Dropbox folder on both computers.

Not using Dropbox? Get 2GB of free cloud storage by signing up now! (referral)


How To Remove Location Information From Your Images With Lightroom

Like many of you, I take most of my day-to-day pictures on my mobile phone. It’s convenient and the camera isn’t half bad. But by default, the camera includes the location where the picture was taken. In fact, it’s not only your mobile phone that is adding your location to your images. Many newer point-and-shoot cameras also come GPS-enabled, too.

You can see if your image files contain location information inside of Lightroom by selecting an image in the Library module and checking the Metadata tab. If your camera is attaching your location to each image, you’ll see some coordinates in the GPS field.

adobe lightroom location gps

Lightroom Fanatic – GPS Location

You can turn off the location information at the source on the phone, but sometimes it’s cool to retain the location information so that you can see where you’ve been. Here’s my iPhone library as viewed in the Map module in Lightroom.

adobe lightroom location map module

Lightroom Fanatic – Lightroom Map Module

Having the location embedded in your images once they leave Lightroom, though, is another story. Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, and many other common places where people host their images can read and sometimes expose that location information to the public. Listen, I love you guys, but I’m perfectly happy not having you show up on my doorstep! All kidding aside, in a world where privacy and security are at a premium, sometimes its simply prudent to be cautious and control what information you expose about yourself on the internet.

Fortunately, Lightroom makes it easy to remove the location information from your images when you send them outside of Lightroom using either the Export or Publish Manager.

When you are exporting or publishing images, there is an option under the Metadata section that reads “Remove Location Info”. This option will only be enabled if you have either All Metadata or All Except Camera & Camera Raw Info selected.

adobe lightroom remove location info export publish

By checking that option, Lightroom will remove the GPS location information from your images. Here is the exported version of the same image shown above after I brought it back in to Lightroom, now without any data in the GPS field.

adobe lightroom location gps

The option to remove the location information can be saved to your presets, as well, so you can have the piece of mind by removing your location any time you use your export or publish presets.

Remember, once something makes it out in the wild, it’s hard to get back, so it pays to know what you’re putting out there and make the choice for yourself about how much or little information you want to be available.

Clean Up The Clutter By Disabling Unused Lightroom Plug-ins

The new year is nearly upon us! It’s time to start making those resolutions! Minimalism is always fun, and we can start by donating the old clothes and toys that were replaced by all the cool stuff we got at Christmas. Treadmills are less fun, but equally important to good health and a clear, creative mind. So whether you’re clearing the clutter from the hallway table or shedding the holiday weight, there’s another place that could use some attention heading in to the new year, as well, and that’s inside Lightroom.

One of the features of the last release of Lightroom was to include the Aperture/iPhoto Importer plug-in. While I’m sure there is a use for the plug-in for those poor souls that have finally been forced to realize the pure awesomeness of Lightroom, I’ve known all along so I have no need for the plug-in. Unfortunately, it’s installed and enabled by default, which means my Plug-in Extras menu has unnecessary entries that I’d rather not see.

lightroom plug-in plugin aperture import

Lightroom Fanatic – Cluttered Plug-in Extras

Fortunately, it’s easy enough to disable the plug-in and remove those items from the menu. To get started, head over to the Lightroom Plug-in Manager by navigating to File > Plug-in Manager or using the shortcut ,.

lightroom plugin manager plugin

Lightroom Fanatic – Lightroom Plug-in Manager

The Plug-in Manager shows you the plug-ins that you currently have installed and whether they are enabled or not. As you can see from the image above, Lightroom comes with a number of integrated plug-ins, and most of them are enabled by default. Right at the top of the list is the Aperture importer. A few other notable plugins for me include the Behance plug-in, which I don’t use, along with the Canon Tether and Leica Tether plug-ins (I shoot Nikon), and the Facebook and Flickr plug-ins, which I also don’t use. Each of these plug-ins shows up somewhere in Lightroom, and I’d rather only see those items that are relevant to me.

To accomplish this mighty task takes courage! It takes determination! It takes…ok, it only takes a few button clicks. For each of the plug-ins that you don’t need, click it on the left side of the Plug-in Manager and click on the Disable button in the Status window on the right.

wpid2793-lr5_lightroom_plugin_disabled.jpgWhen you’re done, you’ll be free from the clutter of unnecessary menu items and drop downs. Below is the “after” menu once I disabled the Aperture plug-in.

lightroom plug-in manager extras menu

Lightroom Fanatic – Cleaned Up Plug-in Extras Menu

I hope that helps getting you clutter-free heading in to the new year! Happy Holidays and Happy New Year, Fanatics!

Why Resetting Your Images Should Be The First Step In Your Lightroom HDR Workflow

The Jersey Shore has a bad rap. It’s not all about foul mouths, spray tans, and whatever a Shnookie is. It’s actually pretty. And, as the word “shore” implies, it’s also on the water, which makes me very happy. I had occasion to visit the J.S. (I don’t think anyone calls it that) recently, so I brought the camera and fired off a few bracketed frames to merge in Photomatix.

You can download a free trail of Photomatix on the Photomatix Download page. The trial of Photomatix Pro is fully functional and never expires, but adds a watermark to final images. When you’re ready to purchase Photomatix, head here and use the coupon code ‘LightroomFanatic’ to get 15% off!


When I got home, I imported the images in to Lightroom. The memory card had a mix of single and bracketed images, so I applied my “standard” preset that, in addition to some camera-specific adjustments and personal preferences, also adds a vignette. After I ran the bracketed images through Photomatix, the resulting composite had a heavy vignette that didn’t come from Photomatix. After a bit of poking around, I figured out that the vignette came from the adjustments that were made back in Lightroom.

Normally, I don’t apply any presets to the images that I want to tone map, so I hadn’t thought about what Lightroom actually sends to Photomatix. For all I knew, it was sending a TIFF version of the raw, unprocessed image. But, in fact, it’s rendering a TIFF that includes the Lightroom adjustments and sending those over instead.

To illustrate an extreme case, I took the three images in my set and I added a heavy vignette to the first one, overexposed the second image, and severely underexposed the third image.

wpid2728-Stone-Harbor-NJ-SIP-51.jpg wpid2726-Stone-Harbor-NJ-SIP-50.jpg wpid2724-Stone-Harbor-NJ-SIP-49.jpg

I sent the images in to Photomatix, and this was the result.


Not pretty, and not Photomatix’s fault. It can only work with what I give it. Fortunately, unlike a bad spray tan, Lightroom makes it easy to clean up adjustments with the Reset button. I went in and reset the same three images and sent them to Photomatix. The result was a much pleasant image.

lightroom fanatic stone harbor HDR

Lightroom Fanatic – Stone Harbor HDR

There may be situations where you want to make adjustments in Lightroom before you send your images to Photomatix or any other third-party tool, but I feel like those cases are rare and that the better result will come from processing in the external tool and then doing your finishing touches back in Lightroom. So if you’re seeing unexpected results with third-party tools, try doing a reset on your images first. Reset it and fuggedaboutit!

Go ahead and grab the free Photomatix trial and try it out yourself!

Slim Down – 5 Ways To Reclaim Space From Adobe Lightroom

Many new computers are coming with blazing fast solid state drive (SSD) that are great for speed and durability. Their smaller size compared to traditional hard drives make your laptop lighter and less of a battery drain, but they are also more expensive, particularly at the larger sizes. An SSD in a laptop is often not upgradeable, which means unless you want to fork over the dough for a new laptop, you’re stuck with the space that you have. Bulky applications and huge catalogs of images can quickly eat away at the precious space on a hard drive, which is why one of the most common questions that I am asked about Lightroom is how to reduce the size of the Lightroom footprint.

Here are 5 tips for reclaiming space on your hard drive from Lightroom. Enjoy!

light room data erase save space hard drive

#1 – Archive Final Projects

The most straight forward way to free up space from your hard drive is to archive images that you no longer need regular access to off to an external or network attached drive. Before you start removing images, though, make sure you have a solid, redundant backup solution. Once I have completed a project, I copy it to my external hard drive. My external hard drive is included in my Backblaze backup since it’s physically attached to my main computer. An automated task also keeps my external hard drive synchronized with a network attached drive inside my home. That keeps my images in multiple locations inside my home and one offsite location, so I feel confident deleting the images from my computer.

My solution allows me to edit images right on my external hard drive in the event that I need to do a quick edit on an archived project, or easily copy a project back over to my computer for local access. Newer technologies like Thunderbolt and USB 3.0 provide adequate speed to work with decent sized catalogs on external media, so if you are looking for an external hard drive, be sure to pick one with one of those technologies. Western Digital provides a few inexpensive options. For an attached drive, I’ve been using the WD My Book 4 TB USB 3.0 Hard Drive. For my network attached drive, I’m using the WD My Cloud Mirror 8TB 2-bay Personal Cloud Storage.

#2 – Delete Rejected Or Unusable Images

Lightroom makes it easy to import your images from your camera. Sometimes, too easy. Often, I find that I’ll import everything from my memory card, especially for larger projects. That means that, in addition to my keepers, I’m import a lot of garbage. Not me, of course, but I have a friend that sometimes imports images taken with the lens cap on, or accidental misfires of a camera bag or a blurry ground. Ideally, my friend should have not imported these images from their camera card, but now he has large, raw, unusable images taking up space on his hard drive.

Fortunately for my friend, his selection process flags those images as “rejects”, so it’s easy for him to go to his library, find all the rejected photos, and delete them from both the catalog and the hard drive from within Lightroom. By maintaining good workflow practices, you can delete those images from your catalog that have no potential use or value, just like my friend does.

(Ok, it was me.)

#3 – Delete Unneeded Smart Previews

Check the size of your Smart Previews file. Lightroom has a nasty habit of remembering whether or not you used smart previews during your last import. This can lead to the inadvertent creation of smart previews during your next import. Similar to tip #5 above, you can also select folders and images and navigate to Library > Previews > Discard Smart Previews to remove any smart previews that are lurking beneath the surface.

#4 – Clear Your Cache

Lightroom uses cache to make things faster. But sometimes, it holds on to its cache a little too long and retains cache for things you may no longer need. Clearing your cache can free up extra space, so check out this post on When And How To Clear Your Lightroom Cache.

#5 – Delete Your 1:1 Previews

Lightroom generates 1:1 (full-sized) previews for images that is uses in the develop module and for zooming in on an image. For speeding up your workflow, it is often recommended to keep the 1:1 previews for as long as possible so that Lightroom doesn’t need to generate one when you start to edit an image. The drawback is that you’re using up a lot of space to keep these previews even for images that you may not intend to work on again. If you need to free up space, you can change the length of time that Lightroom keeps previews for images in your preferences. You can also delete the full-sized previews by selecting folders or images and navigating to Library > Previews > Discard 1:1 Previews. Or you can nuke your Previews file. Lightroom will regenerate the file and any previews that it needs along the way, though that will slow down your workflow a bit, so use with caution! Also, be sure to read this post about Why Discarding 1:1 Previews Doesn’t Reduce The Preview File Size.

But wait! There’s more!

Bonus Tip #1 – Remove Duplicates

Duplicates are another artifact that can take up space on your hard drive. Whether it’s because of a reused memory card with an unchecked Do Not Import Suspected Duplicates option, or an inadvertent import to a different directory, I’ve previously posted tutorials on how to find and remove duplicate images from your catalog and computer.

Bonus Tip #2 – Clear Your Lightroom History

As I mentioned in a previous post, in certain situations you may not need to retain your develop history for all of your images. Maintaining all that data can bloat the size of your catalog. Read more about it and How To Clear Your Lightroom Develop History.