My setup is this: I have an iMac that is my main computer, running Lightroom 5. I have subscribed to Adobe Creative Cloud so that allows me to install Lightroom on another computer.

I would like to have the Lightroom catalog either on a NAS/Server (on which I currently run a small file server with Windows 2012) which would host the data and either at different times my iMac or my Laptop (PC) can access the catalog, make photo edits, etc. and the information is stored on the server.

Another plan, for later on, is to VPN in to the server from a remote location and edit my Library as if I were on my home network.

Is this possible?

I am presently using Aperture—but since Adobe came out with Creative Cloud and with a very nice package I was able to secure from them, I like the idea of being able to edit photos on either device.


Can you run the catalog on a NAS? Yes, you can. Does Lightroom (or Adobe) support this? No. The primary reason is likely because the Lightroom database can't be accessed from two different machines at the same time. There are temp files and other items in transit that the application depends on that would likely get corrupted if another machine attempted to access the LR database while it was open on another machine.

So, you could run it on a NAS, but unless you are extremely careful, and never, ever, ever open the database from your laptop while it is open on your iMac, then it might not be worth it.

I would suggest the following: Lightroom has a feature called 'Export as catalog' that helps you do sort of what you are looking to do:

In this case, you take the entire catalog, or perhaps the latest portion you are actively working on, and select those images, then 'Export as Catalog'. Be sure to include the images. This will copy all the edits and the images to a new catalog, that you will then move to your laptop.

Now you have a second copy of the catalog on the laptop. No, it is not synched, but synching is what would corrupt the catalog if you tried this via a NAS. Instead, you make your edits, and then you would import them back into your main LR catalog using 'Export as catalog' again (you don't need to include the images unless you have added new images to the laptop only), and import the changes back into the iMac/NAS.

You could also do a variation of this: "Export as Catalog" from the main computer. Do not include the images. Instead, when you load the catalog on the Macbook, 'find' the images on your connected NAS via the laptop, this will connect the exported catalog to the original image files on the NAS. NOTE: any changes on the laptop DO NOT change the images on the NAS, it only changes the data within the exported catalog, now on the laptop.

Once you make some edits, then you can export those edits using 'Export as Catalog', and import this file on the iMac, which will add all those laptop edits to the main iMac catalog. Using this method will also allow you to take advantage of 'Smart Previews', allowing you to keep a preview on the laptop for editing, without actually having all the images available.


Lightroom does not allow for catalogs being stored on network drives:

No, you can't store catalogs on a network but you can store your photos on a network. Smart Previews let you edit your photos in Lightroom even when you are disconnected from the network or when your computer is disconnected from the drive that contains your photos.

From Adobe's Lightroom catalog FAQ

As the quote suggests, LR5's new Smart Preview feature is probably the most hassle-free way to go about it.


I would put it on the laptop. They have tools you can use built in to keep your laptop and desktop properly synced. I would think vpn'ing would be difficult to do because of how graphic heavy developing the pictures are.... I have used lightroom 5 via vpn to do other tasks like: importing, exporting, organizing, and even the map module. Maybe if you have a gigabit connection it might work better but it was to clunky for me to use the develop module.


there is a good tutorial on setting up a workflow between a laptop for editing photos while traveling and a desktop unit for most lightroom work on diyphotography.net: http://www.diyphotography.net/tips-syncing-editing-laptop-work-station/

I would start by considering it as your best practice. There are lots of hacks for trying to do what you want to do but they're not supported and tend to be fragile and if you make a mistake you can easily end up with a corrupted or unusable catalog (which is bad).


I use Dropbox, I have my images on there and the catalog in a folder, when I have two different catalogs on different devices and I save all info on exiting Lightroom & do a sync folder on startup every time I use Lightroom on any computer ..works fine

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