Tech Topic: Monitoring Apple Photos Sync

I brought a laptop on this trip so I could cull, edit, and publish photos while still traveling. I’m using Adobe Lightroom Classic as my main photo repository, especially for pictures I take with my Panasonic FZ1000M2, but photos I take with my iPhone wind up going into Apple Photos.

I want to be able to back up my photos even while I’m traveling. Photos I take on the iPhone go into the Apple cloud and are, probably, automatically download into Photos at home and then backed up by Time Machine and Backblaze. I say “probably” because I have been running into problems with getting those same photos onto the laptop I brought with me – it stops downloading for no reason that I can figure out.

In desperation, I told Apple Photos to “repair” the photos library on the laptop; that took a while, and then it said it was going to download all of my photos from iCloud. I hoped it would do checksums on the laptop and on the server and only download missing or damaged photos, but that doesn’t seem to be the case – it wanted to download every photo. And it kept stopping and starting.

After much fiddling, I discovered that Photos seemed to stop downloading if it wasn’t the foreground application (the one in the menu bar). I also discovered that I could monitor the progress of the download by looking at the Pictures/Photos Library.photoslibrary/resources/cpl/cloudsync.index directory (Apple Photos is not very generous in its progress reporting).

Fortunately, we were docked at the DC Wharf and they had high-speed public wifi which I could use as long as I put the laptop on our balcony – I was able to complete the repair while we were in DC.

Today, though, the download has stopped again; rebooting hasn’t helped, and I can’t figure out what the hangup is. My iPad shows all of the photos I’ve taken. I’m very confused.