Does any of you have experience in using Google Drive with Lightroom 5? Like to use GDrive to be able to show/edit my photos on my Macbook and iMac.

I know that I am only able to open Lightroom EITHER on Macbook or iMac but I'm a little concerned whether this actually works or not. Hope one of you have tried this already and can share his/her experience.

  • The same has been done using Dropbox. The best way to find out is test it with a test catalog. I assume that you will not put the photos into Google Drive but instead have them on an external hard disk? – Unapiedra Sep 6 '13 at 13:08
  • No, I like to have my photos and the Lightroom library on GDrive. – McClane Sep 6 '13 at 13:26

I'll try to give a generic answer for Google Drive (disclosure: I work for Google, but not on Drive), Dropbox, Microsoft OneDrive, etc:

I would be conservative and not try this, unless I'm okay with risking data loss. These sync tools behave differently from from HFS+.

For example, Dropbox doesn't support symlinks. Put a file in Dropbox, and a symlink to it, and you'll end up with two copies of the file. This is different from a symlink, obviously — if you update the file, the changes don't reflect in the symlink, because it's no longer a symlink. This difference can break Lightroom and corrupt your library, if it uses symlinks and expect them to work the way symlinks do.

Symlinks are just one example. There are also other areas where Google Drive and Dropbox could be different from HFS+: hard links, aliases, resource forks, extended attributes, path length limits or disallowed characters, and so on.

If you're thinking about doing a test, you can't be sure that everything will work fine in the future if it works fine now. Maybe there's latent corruption in the library that's not visible yet, and will show up one day? Unless you've tested all the code paths in the Lightroom code, you can't be sure.

Drive and friends are for storing individual files, like Word documents. They are not safe for storing entire libraries like Lightroom, iPhoto, iTunes, etc.


Been done on OneDrive/Dropbox for long with no issues - catalog is on Dropbox and photos on OneDrive and recently moved to Drive. Just be sure to disable uploading of the preview files (with selective sync in the settings) as they are very heavy, and not critical for normal operation (they act as cache I presume).

The biggest advantage (I THINK!) is that on Drive when you move photos from one folder to another it is much more efficient than OneDrive, that seems to delete the files and then re-upload them. Don't know about Dropbox.


So I've been using Lightroom CC recently as a test - it turns out that this sort of syncing does not work well.

Adobe Lightroom stores absolute paths to files and folders. If you open Lightroom in Windows and save that to the cloud, then download your Lightroom library from the cloud to a Mac and open Lightroom on the Mac - everything will break. There's an "update location" option, but it doesn't quite work well enough for me to consider a solution. I had to do it for every single folder I had, which was a root level pictures directory, a folder for each year, and a folder inside each year for each month.

Additionally, the cloud syncing services for Google Drive and Dropbox are located in your user account's home directory. So if your old Mac was using your first name as a home path (ex: /Users/bob) and your new mac uses your fullname (ex: /Users/bobsmith) it will break all of the images you have in Lightroom and you'll have to spend an arduous amount of time on "update location".

Until Lightroom supports relative paths, I would not use Google Drive, Dropbox, or OneDrive to sync your Lightroom library to the cloud.


You may run in to issues if paths are different from one system to another, but it's easy enough to do a find missing files at the start of a session and things wire up quickly when you identify the root folder. I don't use Drive specifically, but I have an external drive and regularly swap it between systems or even just copy projects over my LAN from one system to another. The big trick is just keeping track of the latest copy to make sure you don't lose changes.

  • How can the path be different? When I install Google Drive on my Macbook & iMac on both systems I see the Google Drive Folder on root (I have the same username on both machines). -Maybe Apple uses the serial number from the HDD to distinguish the drives..? – McClane Sep 6 '13 at 14:30
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    @McClane - it wasn't a Google Drive specific concern. If the path is the same, there shouldn't be an issue. I haven't used Drive specifically, but most such software I've used has an option to choose where you store the data. If it was, say for example, a different drive letter, then things can get tricky, but I also don't know Mac very well, so mount points may be different. – AJ Henderson Sep 6 '13 at 14:32
  • As long as the Google Drive folder is in the same place on each it should be fine. Either way, I believe Lightroom uses relative paths, ie: as long as the directory structure containing the Lightroom catalogue and the library of images is intact then it should still work. If you move away from google drive, use dropbox or anything else. The cloud storage you use shouldn't make any difference at all. As @Una said in their answer, best way is to create a test catalogue and experiment: Export a bunch of files into another catalogue from the File menu and test it – laurencemadill Dec 6 '13 at 9:16
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    @laurencemadill - yes, it does use relative paths. It is an avoidable problem, I was just saying that's the worst that should happen if they don't keep them in a relative structure it can follow. – AJ Henderson Dec 6 '13 at 14:11

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