I recently started dividing my Aperture work between my home iMac, and my MacBook Pro. The problem here is that, whenever I want to do a makeshift sync, I export the edited photos from one Mac as an Aperture library (to keep all adjustments, as well as the original image format), and then import the library into the second computer. This is slow, inefficient, and needlessly cumbersome.

I considered using Photo Stream, but the 25 GB I have on my iCloud (which will shrink to 5 a year from now) is nowhere near enough to house my colossal Aperture library, which should break the 100 GB milestone in a month or two; not to mention, using Photo Stream uses up Internet bandwidth, and flattens the images (merges the adjustments, instead of preserving them as editable ones).

Has anyone else had this kind of problem? Can anyone think of a solution?

  • You absolutely do not want to use PhotoStream since it does not give you the non-destructive editing, history and many features that make Aperture a nice choice.
    – bmike
    Nov 15, 2012 at 21:41
  • ... And that's exactly why I don't use it.
    – Jules
    Nov 16, 2012 at 0:22
  • Can you exist with one library, but moving it to the portable Mac to travel and then shifting it back to the main Mac? Aperture has so many features, truly syncing the databases is a bad idea if you use offline storage or many of the more advanced file management options.
    – bmike
    Nov 16, 2012 at 2:27
  • Syncing a 90-something GB library between two computers is easier said than done. I've suggested project synchronization to Apple via Aperture feedback; for now, I'm trying to use @Alex's rsync-based workaround. I'll accept the answer when I get it to work.
    – Jules
    Nov 16, 2012 at 5:34

2 Answers 2


RSync the library from the one system to the other when you're at home. It's network efficient, only transfers updated files, and is designed with exactly this sort of thing in mind. It's also free, and installed by default on OSX. It's a command-line tool, as long as you're happy with that sort of thing. It'll keep the libraries in sync quite happily, and syncs both ways.

You'll want something like:

rsync -avh --progress --delete /path/to/source /path/to/target

Depends on whether you mount the remote drive locally, or use an rsync daemon.

Nice instructions here: Software to synchronize two directories (local/remote)

  • Have you done this over time? Does aperture store faces and all other database links relative to the library path? I would expect this to cause problems if you don't have a unified Aperture library, move masters or any number of other tasks where files are not stored in the aperture library. This also might be a bad idea if you use Aperture Vaults.
    – bmike
    Nov 16, 2012 at 1:23

Another possibilty is to keep your aperture library on an external disk. You move the disk from computer to computer. This avoids the sync problem, as well as the possibility that you overwrite new edits with older versions if you forget which one is the most current.

Note that USB 2 is probably too slow to work with. Firewire 2 is probably acceptable. USB 3, thunderbolt, or esata will depend on the capabilities of your macs, but you can get enclosures that support multiple kinds of connections.

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