Synchronising iPhoto

As many people who know me are aware, I use Macs. I also use iPhoto, a lot! I have an iMac on my desk at home and I roam around with my Macbook Pro. Both of these have iPhoto installed and I often need to make sure both systems' iPhoto libraries are in sync. There is no free GUI tool for this (that I'm aware of at least) but that is not a show stopper. Many Mac/OSX users aren't aware of the fact OSX is a full- blown, card carrying member of the Unix(tm) family! What this means is that it has a complete command line interface that allows you to do all sorts of phunky things. In my case, I need to synchronise two iPhoto installations. However, my needs are fairly simple:

  1. I only change one iPhoto library at a time (either I'm working at home, or remotely). So this mean I will only ever need to merge changes from one iPhoto to the other.
  2. My account on both systems can login to the other via SSH without requiring a password. I used key-based auth.

With these two considerations I simply went about knocking up a shell script to do what I need using rsync. I offer you the following:


DIRS="$HOME/Library/Caches/\n$HOME/Pictures/iPhoto Library"
RSYNCOPT="-rlptSzhPE --del"

# Assume first command line argument is the remote host
if [ ! -z $1 ]; then

echo -e $DIRS | while read DIR
    cd "$DIR"
    if [ $? -eq 0 ]; then
            DIR=`pwd | tr \  \?`
            echo "Corrected Directory on remote host: $DIR"
            rsync $RSYNCOPT $RHOST:$DIR/ ./
            echo "Oops - couldn't change to directory "$DIR""

cd $HOME/Library/Preferences
rsync $RSYNCOPT $RHOST:$HOME/Library/Preferences/ ./
rsync $RSYNCOPT $RHOST:$HOME/Library/Preferences/ ./
rsync $RSYNCOPT $RHOST:$HOME/Library/Preferences/ ./


Some important notes about this script:

  • Save this script as:
  • Execute the following command to make it executable: chmod 775 /path/to/
  • It MUST be run on the DESTINATION machine.
  • You username on both machines MUST be the same.
  • Edit the RHOST variable to point to your OTHER Mac (ie, the source). Alternatively, you can over ride the hard-coded RHOST by specifying one on the command line.
  • This script will COMPLETELY over-write the iPhoto library on the destination Mac, ie, this script will NOT "merge" two iPhoto libraries into one!! YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!

Now whenever you modify your OTHER iPhoto library, run this script on the Mac that needs updating :) Voila!


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