iPhotoSync: iPhoto Synchronization Made Easy

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?

Getting Started

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.

Manual Mode

Manual Mode

Manual Mode

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.

Automatic Mode

Automatic Mode

Automatic Mode

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

iPhoto Syncing

iPhoto Syncing

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.


iPhotoSync makes it easy to keep several iPhoto libraries in sync, ensuring that new photos are automatically copied across your computers, and everyone has access to the images they want to!



Add Yours
  • One big difference between iPhoto’s built-in photo sharing feature and iPhotoSync (and one of the reasons I wrote it) is that iPhotoSync will find photos on the other computer that you don’t already have. The built-in sharing just shows you all the photos; you have to figure out which ones are new.

    Also, the built-in photos sharing ignores movies in your iPhoto Library.

    Also, it’s automatic. Most people use manual mode just to get comfortable with it. Once you’re comfortable that the right thing is going to happen, set it to automatic and never worry about it again. Just get periodic notifications that new photos have arrived.

    – Stefan (author of iPhotoSync)

  • This looks like an excellent product that many of my friends can use.

    Stefan do you all plan on the ability to sync outside of your own home network?

    • No, I hadn’t planned on that. It’s a cool idea though. It would require some sort of service on the Internet to facilitiate communication. I’ll think more about it. Thanks!

  • Thank you Stefan for the prompt response. I’ll be downloading the app!!!!

  • I’ve never actually bought iLife standalone, so I’ve never had 2 Macs with the same version of iPhoto; because of all the varying versions and whatnot, I’ve always gone the safe route by using the built-in “Sharing” rather than risking “library updates” making a mess of any Mac’s iPhoto library.

    Looks good though!

    • Hi Adam,
      iPhotoSync doesn’t actually modify your library apart from putting photos and movies into the “Auto Import” folder. This is a special folder within the iPhoto Library that every version of iPhoto from ’08 on looks at and immediately imports whatever is in there.

      iPhotoSync only does 1 thing: it grabs photos from the other computer(s) that it doesn’t already have, and puts them in that “Auto Import” folder. iPhoto takes it from there. So it’s very safe. It doesn’t delete photos or modify your library in any other way.

      It works fine across different versions of iPhoto, as long as they’re iPhoto ’08 or later.

      • Well that’s that straightened out, then! I think one Mac is from ’07 on it, annoyingly.

        Maybe when iLife is available on the Mac App Store iPhoto upgrading may be a little more appealing!

        Thanks for the follow up. Great service, that.

      • What happens if you modify photos in iPhoto, does it propagate those changes to the other machines? Where does iPhotoSync grab its photos from? I had the impression that iPhoto has an “originals” folder.

  • Will there be a version that includes syncing from iDevices? More and more people have both an iPhone and an iPad, and syncing photos becomes a nightmare.

    Comparing this software to iPhoto is only useful for people that use iPhoto. Personally I can’t stand the way iPhoto works – especially the automatic shuffling and hassling of files and folders that iPhoto is so good at.

    • Hi Chriet,
      No plans to sync iPhones and iPads anytime soon, to be honest. Maybe take a look at PadSync?

  • what is the difference between iPhotoSync and IPhoto Library Manager ?

  • Your black background makes it difficult to read text. The info appears good but I will need to look elsewhere so that I can read it.

  • Very informative. I have photo sharing on my iPhone 4S and iPad thru iCloud’s. C I also sync laptop photo sharing to same iCloud’s.

    • In my last post I stated, can I sync laptop photo sharing to same iCloud’s.
      I really meant Photo streaming