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.
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.