11/26/2020 - At home I use a 21″ iMac, and a 13″ MacBook Pro mostly when traveling. I wanted to create a setup allowing for editing photos in Lightroom seemlessly on both computers – on the iMac for its large screen and on the laptop for the mobility. I wanted the solution to be as easy and seamless as possible and to have access to all photos on both computers.
The iMac has a 1TB hard-disk, where as the MacBook only has 125gb if internal storage. At first I had all the photos on the internal hard-disk of the iMac, which was backed-up with Time Machine. Then, when traveling, I would clear the space on the MacBook, create a new catalog and import the photos. Then back at home, I would transfer the images to the iMac and merge the catalogs. This worked for a while, but it was a pretty painful process, and there was only so much I could store on the Macbook, which became a problem on a longer trip, and I didn’t have, and didn’t want, dozens of sd-cards.
It also meant that I didn’t have access to the old photos on the MacBook, and once the photos and the edits where transferred to the iMac I couldn’t really edit them on the laptop anymore without creating a mess. 
After much research I came up with the following setup that works quite well. It may not be the fastest solution, but I don’t have to think too much about it or be worried that I mess something up. So here’s the setup:
- Both computers run the same versions of Lightroom and Photoshop
- There is only one master catalog that has all my photos and edits in it.
- The catalog is synched across the two computers via iCloud, as are the presets.
- The photos live on an external 2TB SSD hard-drive that is connected to the computer on which photos are edited.
- When switching computers I only have to make sure that it’s using the latest version of the catalog. 
- The 2TB SSD hard-drive is backed-up periodically to another 2TB hard-drive via CarbonCopyCloner
- A bi-weekly recurring reminder in my calendar nudges me to do the backup. 
- The backup runs automatically as soon as both hard-drives are connected to the computer.
- The CarbonCopyCloner software was a one-off purchase for $40
- The 2TB hard-drive is also continuously backed up into the cloud to Backblaze:
- A bit of software on the computer automatically backs up the external hard-drive to the cloud.
- Data can be restored from their website or, for additional cost, via usb or harddrive
- BackBlaze costs $6 per month.
Recently I dropped one of the external harddrives and had to restore data from Backblaze. Because of the amount of data that was quite a painful experience, but it worked and I was glad I had that backup that has no dependency on any of my hardware
On iCloud I pay $2.99 per month for 200gb of storage, which is enough to house the catalog and the presets.
This solution works quite well for me. The backups run automatically, and there is no dependence on the physical computers or harddrives. If my house burns down I don’t lose my photo work… In fact, the iMac is now out of commission for Lightroom since the latest bigger update. That update requires an OsX version that is too new for my 2009 iMac. I’m looking to replacing it with the new Mac Mini M1 and a 27″ monitor in the near future.
UPDATE 5/17/2021: Accidentally I stumbled over a software called Catalina Patcher, that allows installing and running Catalina on machines that are no longer supported by Apple. The website has very detailed information about the compatibility as well as a very detailed instruction video and information how to perform the upgrade, and how to revert back in case something went wrong.
My 2009 iMac is listed as among the compatible machine, and so I took the plunge and started the process. Lo and behold, the installation of both the patch and Catalina went without a hitch, and I am now running the OS on my old mac. This allowed me to also install the latest version of Lightroom and Photoshop.
I have now been running Catalina on this computer for a couple of months and I’m very happy with it, everything seems to work, I haven’t had any issues whatsoever. I use it daily as my work computer, although I’m only remoteing into my PC at work. Lightroom is not the fastest, but it’s fast enough for now. Overall, I’m very happy to have been able to extract maybe another year out of my trusty iMac. When it bites the dust for good I will probably get a new 24″ iMac.

Thank you!
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