If you have two or more Macs you use regularly, it might be tempting to consider sharing your Photos Library among them. iCloud Photos is the preferred method, syncing images and videos, and also offering optimized storage so you’re not filling your Macs’ drives with media if you prefer to keep it in the cloud.
However, iCloud Photos requires an iCloud+ paid subscription if you’re using more than the truly inadequate and completely ridiculous 5GB included by Apple at no cost with every iCloud account. Some people don’t want cloud storage and don’t want to pay for it–they just want to sync between their Macs or use a single library file they can open on one machine at a time.
If you don’t want to spend on the additional iCloud storage, then there’s no great way to make iClouds Photos work. The best option I can suggest is using an external drive to store the Photos Library:
- Quit Photos.
- Copy the Photos Library by dragging it from the startup volume to your external volume.
- When complete, hold down the Option key and launch Photos.
- In Photos, select Photos > Preferences, and in the General tab, click Use as System Photo Library.
When you want to swap Macs for the first time:
- Quit Photos.
- Eject the drive from your first Mac and mount it on the second.
- Hold down the Option key and launch Photos.
- As above, select Photos > Preferences, and in the General tab, click Use as System Photo Library.
From now on when you want to switch Macs:
- Quit Photos on your current Mac.
- Eject the drive and mount it on the other Mac.
- Launch Photos on the newly connected Mac.
Make sure that both Macs remain up to date with the same release of macOS to avoid any problems with a newer version of Photos being installed along with a system update.
This Mac 911 article is in response to a question submitted by Macworld reader Jennifer.
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