Finally, serious Lightroom photo syncing on the iPad – no iPhoto required

Old workflow for getting cool pictures I’ve taken from my camera to my iPad:

Import photos into Adobe Lightroom. Throw out junk, make fixes, sort and rate. Choose photos I want on my iPad and export to a folder on my hard drive. Drag said folder into iPhoto. Make newly imported photos into a new iPhoto album. Hook up iPad for sync via iTunes. Place check mark on new album in iTunes iPad photo syncing tab. Wait.

New workflow for getting cool pictures I’ve taken from camera to iPad:

Import photos into Adobe Lightroom. Throw out junk, make fixes, sort and rate. Choose photos I want on my iPad, drag to Photosmith publishing service, hit sync.

What a great program, though it does cost $20. What I’ve just described, using the app to send pictures or albums right from Lightroom onto your iPad, is worth more than $20 to me. You also have to install a free Lightroom plugin on your computer to make to all work.

But the other side of the app is for doing field work on photos using just your iPad, which I have not done much in the past but may get more into. Using Apple’s Camera Connection Kit, you can import photos right off your camera into the Photosmith app, rate them, tag them, flag them for deletion etc. You can also directly upload them to a couple of services such as Facebook, Flickr and Dropbox. Then just get near your Mac, open up Lightroom and sync back to your computer. Sweet.

photosmith app screen shot

Annoying limits I’ve encountered so far?

You can’t sync iPad screenshots back to Lightroom. That’s because the iPad makes them in the PNG format which Lightroom doesn’t support. But a fix is coming.

It seems like you can’t use the iPad app to re-arrange photos imported from Lightroom among your collections or make them into a new collection and have the changes sync back to Lightroom. Only new photos imported¬†directly¬†from a camera to the iPad (or taken with the iPad, god have mercy on your soul) sync back to Lightroom.


Gold star for Syncopation developer and bug crusher Pearson

A gold starA couple of weeks ago, I installed the free-trial version of a program called Syncopation to keep the iTunes music libraries on my laptop and desktop Macs in sync. It worked pretty well, as I noted in my July 3 review, but I did notice that one of the promised features — one I especially liked — wasn’t working as advertised.

Syncopation was supposed to keep not just the music files in sync on my two computers but also the key attributes iTunes tracks, like star ratings and number of times played. After the initial sync, however, I was getting no glory on metadata syncing. So I dropped an email to the support site of the publisher, Sonzea, and got a pretty quick response from developer Alan Pearson. After a quick back and forth, he got to work and within days posted an updated version of Syncopation  (2.1.1) that quashed the bug. And, Pearson sent me a personal email notifying me of the fix. That is great customer service. Needless to say, I just paid $25 for a full license.

Syncopation is a good option for syncing iTunes libraries

Syncopation program for syncing itunes libraries(Updated on 7/10) I have too many digital media files and they’re getting disorganized. I want to be able to add stuff to my iPod on the road, so my MacBook Pro is therefore my “main” iTunes library. I typically buy new digital music or TV shows on that laptop and rip CDs or DVDs on it. So, in theory at least, it’s the master library.

But when I’m in my office, I’m typically using my iMac’s music library, so it needs the music files. And because my laptop has much more limited hard drive space any Tv and movie files I’m not interested in watching currently (sorry, Battlestar Galactica season 1) get off-loaded to the iMac. Which means my “master” library isn’t so master anymore.

What I need is a software synchronization solution that’s iTunes-aware. You could just crank up Chronosync (or your own standard, hometown file-syncing program) and have it push missing files back and forth. That solution has at least two problems. First, it would be hellish to get Chronosync to exclude just the movie and TV files I don’t want on my laptop. Also, it knows nothing about my metadata — star ratings, play counts, last played date and so on — that iTunes is tracking separately on each computer.

So I’m testing out a free 30-day trial of a program called Syncopation (version 2.1) which claims to sync iTunes libraries exactly the way you want while keeping all the metadata honest. It’s a tiny download and then you install a copy on each of the computers you want to keep in sync. The free trial supports two computers while the paid version ($25) can do its tricks on five computers. Once the program is running on each computer, it syncs just as you require over a wired or wireless network, either in the background or on-demand.

Syncopation also offers lots of useful options. First off, you can choose whether all libraries are equal (“peer to peer” syncing) or one is a master. You can choose on each computer whether to include or exclude syncing TV shows, movies and/or podcasts. I’ve set it top sync TV shows from my Macbook Pro to my iMac but not the reverse, for example. You can also limit it to specific playlists and decide whether or not it should have the power to delete files. Finally, you can select any or all of six pieces of metadata for syncing (genre, rating, play count, last play date, skip count, last skipped date). If you’re setting up a central iTunes library on a network server somewhere, Syncopation can also add tracks to another computer’s library without actually importing the data files. All in all, a very savvy and slick app.

UPDATE: It appears that metadata syncing happens only once, not continuously. That is, if you buy some songs on one computer, listen to them and rate them, then hit Syncopation for a sync, the songs will transfer over to your other computers with the ratings and last play dates from the purchasing computer. But no metadata appears to be synced after that or for any songs with new metadata but which are already on both computers.

UPDATE2: I’ll do a new post on this, but the problem of metadata not syncing was a bug and one that developer Alan Pearson jumped on with an update 2.1.1 within days after I told him about it. That’s a great software developer in action! Now fixed.