Perhaps you have more than one Mac in your life. I know several people that have an iMac in their house, a work machine, and also their own Macbook for travelling around. If that’s the case, then it can be hard to avoid a “media mess” spread all over your different machines. Now, you can fix this by using web services like Dropbox, but if you want something more specific and easier to setup, this might not be a good fit.
That’s where applications like iPhotoSync come in. This one in particular aims to offer an easy iPhoto synchronization process across different computers, so that you can automatically have the same photographs available on all your machines. But does it deliver?
The first thing you will need to do in order to use iPhotoSync’s magical service is install the application across all of the Macs that you want to use it with.
The setup process is surprisingly simple: as soon as you open it, iPhotoSync will start “synchronizing” or “recognizing” all of the photos that are in your library. I have what I consider a mid-sized iPhoto library (around 4,000 photos), and it took about 5 minutes to synchronize everything in my library and get it all working with the application.
iPhotoSync uses your own network to keep content in sync, so one of the immediate downsides is that you won’t be able to use it with computers that aren’t in your home or work network.
iPhotoSync has two modes that you can use: the manual mode and the automatic mode. They are exactly what they sound like. In the Manual mode, you are presented with all the photos from your other systems, and you can select which ones to ignore, which ones to import, or elect just to import everything.
It’s actually very smart and interesting the way it imports images. It adds them to iPhoto’s “Automatically Import” list, so that they will be automatically added to the app next time you launch iPhoto.
In the “Automatic Mode” you are able to choose specific albums or events that will be automatically imported from this point on. A few “smart lists” are offered by default (such as photos taken in the past few months, all new photos etc), or you can choose specific albums that you want it to start importing automatically.
I’m not sure how it works beneath the hood, but after you set it up it will start synchronising your libraries together. The process is surprisingly fast, and completed without a hitch.
iPhotoSync can handle more or less everything that appears in your iPhoto sidebar – the “Flagged”, “Last Import”, “Last 12 months” categories, as well as Albums, Books, or anything else you’ve created or designed.
Mac OS X Integration
As far as the integration with the OS goes, iPhotoSync has an “agent” that runs in the menu bar. This doesn’t do much, other than alerting you of what is going on behind the scenes of the synchronization process.
It’s very handy if you want to go to quickly open the application, and iPhotoSync also uses Growl to alert of every change and sync that’s occurring behind the scenes (you can turn this off if you’d like to).
“Automatically Import” vs. iPhotoSync
You might be wondering why you should pay for something that is already included in your iPhoto application. The truth is, you might not need to. Perhaps you didn’t know (I didn’t) that iPhoto has it’s own set of sharing features readily available.
They are actually very similar to iPhotoSync, and work pretty well once you set them up. iPhoto’s own syncing abilities also use your home network, let you choose specific folders to share, and even have password security. So, why would you want to pay for an app that does exactly the same?
Well, for one, iPhotoSync has automatic imports, so you can set it and forget it. That feature alone, if you take advantage of it, is worth the price. There are also other features that iPhotoSync has over iPhoto’s syncing (confusing names, I know), like the ability to sync even if iPhoto isn’t running, video syncing, and the ability to show which photos you have already imported.
There are plenty of ways you could keep your libraries synchronised – you could even go “old school” and transfer all your new photos with a USB to all of your computers. But that’s not very convenient in our modern day and age!
iPhotoSync is a handy application, but it would be even more valuable if it didn’t do something that the iPhoto application already does pretty well.
Still, if you want to have an easier way of keeping your iPhoto libraries synchronized across all of your computers, with a useful interface and automatic syncing, iPhotoSync is a very worthwhile application. You can buy a two-machine license for $15, or pay $25 for a five-computer license.