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OS X fails at synchronizing

While I’m complaining .. the other big one I have is synchronizing our iPhoto and iTunes collections between two computers.

I want to be able to say “I want these two computers to keep each other’s iPhoto and iTunes libraries in sync.” And have it do so.

What I don’t want:

  • Use a shared disk.  This is pointless because these two machines may not be connected to the network, so they need to have local copies of stuff.
  • Use rsync.  This is what I’m doing, but again, this is not how things should be.  This is 2009, things should be easier than breaking out cron and command line utilities to get things done.  Not only that, it only HALF solves the problem, since now we have to decide that one of the laptops is “the master” and the other only receives updates.  Lousy solution, but it’s the best I’ve got so far.
  • Use some 3rd party utility.  This should be built in.  (From what I found, there were no real solutions out there anyways.  Just variations on the rsync theme.  So I figured I might as well use what I’m used to.)
  • Excuses about how syncing is complicated.  Yeah, I know.  That’s why I want YOU to fix it, not me.  Really.
So, c’mon people.  Let’s make computers that WORK.

6 Responses to “OS X fails at synchronizing”

  1. Jason Maas Says:

    Hi Phil,
    I think Apple’s solution to the iTunes library is, “buy a big enough iPod and use that to sync up each computer”. :/ I dunno about iPhoto libraries though…I’m not cool enough to have 2 Macs yet. 🙂

  2. john harrison Says:

    I have this issue as well.

    Perhaps there is enough demand for such a feature that you could write a shareware/paid pluggin to do it.

  3. David Wolever Says:

    I’ve never used it, but I’ve heard good things about Unison:

  4. philhassey Says:

    @david – I looked at that for a while .. but decided against it for syncing itunes / iphoto, because it won’t handle conflicts auto-magically or merge the iTunes/iPhoto meta-data.

  5. Rene Dudfield Says:


  6. John Hartzog Says:

    Phil, I recommend Dropbox ( They focus on keeping the setup simple, while making it work seamlessly across all three OS’s (OS X, Linux, Windows).

    After a mild amount of screwing around to get iTunes and iPhoto to accept the directories stored in my Dropbox folder, I’ve never had to deal with sync issues since.

    Syncplicity is supposed to be similar, but I have no experience with it (it wasn’t cross OS a few months ago when I needed it).