I have to work on my images on different computers so I have everything stored on external solid state drives. Since I need to continue working on a different computer I have to save the Lightroom catalogue also on that drive. Every time Im at a different computer I just open the catalogue and have all my adjustments right there. The problem is that I dont have any preview images when the drive is not connected. Since I have a lot of different drives I cant have them connected all at once but it would be nice to have at least the previews. I know that having the catalogue saved on my machine will give me access to those previews but I need the catalogue be saved on the drive so I can continue working on it on a different machine. Is there a way to have a copy of those preview images available when the catalogue is currently unavailable?

I guess that wont work that way since LR cant do anything when the catalogue is not there. Maybe I can have an instance of the catalogue saved locally on every machine and have all the adjustments stored on the drives so that I have them available on over machines?


As I see it you have two problems:

  1. Have the edits with the photos on the SSD
  2. Have the previews on all the different machines

To solve problem 1 you can write edits to XMP files, as described in this answer. Then the edits will be stored next to your photo files and readable by every machine connecting to the SSD.

To solve problem 2 you can have a catalog on each machine. Once you connect an SSD, the catalog refreshes itself using the XMP file and you can create new (smart) previews which are stored on the machine.


You say that you can't connect all of the drives at once, but do you have enough ports to connect two at a time? If you do, what about having one drive dedicated to storing the catalog and the previews, which you always connect to the computer you're using? Then you can also connect the drive containing the specific photos when needed. If you're short of USB ports, you could get a USB hub.

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