Proper Mylio setup for a newbie?

I’m new to Mylio. Trying to figure out how it might could fit into my workflow:

(1) When a picture is taken on my iphone or my wife’s iphone, Apple syncs those photos to my always-on Mac Mini (which has the Mac Photos app open). I set it up this way since iOS Photos has special privileges for background activity - in my experience 3rd party apps have to be and stay open in order for the photos to sync using those apps. So, bottom line, I don’t use the Mylio app to sync photos taken on the phones.
(2) I then use a program (Hazel) on my Mac Mini to rename and organize my photos into a desired folder structure on an external drive connected to the mac mini.
(3) I sync that folder up to my NAS which performs a Hyper Drive backup
(4) I also sync that folder up to Google Drive for cloud accessibility

With my workflow, I basically just need Mylio as a viewer for this shared photo library (Apple doesn’t allow shared libraries and Google Photos doesn’t let me just view photos in the cloud so the Google Photos app shows duplicates). So, should I still set up my Mac Mini as a vault? Or not have any vault? I think what I really should do is have all of my devices set up in guest mode so that they can view and rate the photos, but not delete them. Am I thinking about this right?

  1. You are correct that Apple limits what third-party apps can do in the background on iOS devices so indeed Mylio would need to be running in the foreground in order to sync. You can still add Mylio to those devices, simply instruct it NOT to import photos from the camera roll. They will then in essence become just viewing devices specially if they’re set to guess mode.

— Note here ---- while this is a great way to combine the background sync ability of the native iOS apps and the organization power of Mylio, there are some advantages that you’ll be missing out on with this setup. One of the most obvious ones is Mylio’s ability to automatically “Free up space on device” after your photos have been protected elsewhere. This is something I suspect you’re having to do manually on each device now.

  1. This external drive should become your Mylio Vault. I suggest you initially populate the Mylio library by doing an import from this drive. Use the Import Panel → External Drive → “Add without moving” feature. This will give you the ability to select which folders on that drive Mylio should become “Source Folders” and will add the drive itself as a device in Mylio and set it as a Vault. Any changes you make in Mylio - like face tagging, geotags, keywords, albums, etc - will then be synchronized back to the drive. The drive will also have a full copy of the Mylio catalog and DB and all the Preview and Thumbnail versions of your files. Any new files or folders added within these “Source Folders” will be detected by Mylio and added to the library. So be sure there’s enough extra space on that drive for the added Mylio data and future new files.

  2. Since this drive is automatically backed up outside Mylio, be sure to select the “This device is backed up regularly” option (Dashboard → Devices → [Drive Name] → Device Quality) This way Mylio will not bug you to add an additional vault since it’ll know your data is being protected elsewhere. (Note: is much easier to recover from a secondary Vault, than from a non-Mylio backup, but it is still possible)

  1. You could leave that folder sync’d externally with Google Drive but we can’t guarantee there won’t be any issues. Any time you have two systems trying to sync the same data, you run the risk of data loss. Alternatively, you could sync Mylio with Google Photos and retain cloud access to photos that way. You’d lose the folder structure if you’re accessing the cloud directly, but if you access through Mylio then you not only retain folder structure, but all other organizational views as well. And you could even encrypt the files before they’re uploaded to the cloud for added privacy.

IMO, you should set up the MacMini as an AutoOptimized device (default mode) and set the the external drive as your Vault in the way I described above. Your setup does seems like a bit of extra effort when Mylio could eliminate some of the steps, but a pretty cool design and setup overall. And yes, any devices you want to be “read only” should be set to guess mode. What you might find, however, is that there are many organizational tools in Mylio you will want to take advantage of from at least some of your mobile devices. For example, using Mylio on your phone you could create a sub-folder, move photos to it, and that sub-folder will then appear and the content will properly migrate on the drive back at home - all without you having to sit in front of the computer. Your family could use Face Tagging to identify and confirm friends and relatives photos right on their devices, and their tagging work will be replicated everywhere. Lots and lots of possibilities here.

Let me know if you have more questions - curious to see what setup you end up using.


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Thanks for your detailed thoughts on this. Note that all of my workflow happens automatically - Hazel detects when Apple syncs new photos and videos, and triggers the file renaming and organizing automatically, so i never have to sit down in front of the computer to do this. The idea here is to get the files out of Apple’s closed ecosystem to make them more accessible (especially if something were to happen to me, that way everything isn’t locked up in my Apple account). Few questions:

Where would all these extra Mylio-specific files stored exactly? I have all my media in a Media folder, which has a photo subfolder and a video subfolder. I don’t really want to muck up the Media folder with Mylio-specific files - I would prefer they be stored separate from the photo and video files. Is that the case?

As far as setting a vault, it seems as though Mylio’s purpose for a vault is for all non-vault devices to send new photos and videos to the vault, right? But in my case i don’t want that to happen. So why do I even need to specify any vault at all?

I can’t figure out how to instruct the Mylio ios app to not import new photos from the camera roll?

Mylio stores metadata for images in industry-standard XMP sidecar files, located alongside your original image files. This includes face tags, keywords, geotags, non-destructive edit instructions, etc. Mylio uses XMP files for all image file types - not just camera RAW files like some apps.

Mylio stores Preview and Thumbnail images in a dedicated /Mylio/Generated Images folder on each computer running Mylio.

Mylio stores its database files in your user home folder (on a Mac, by default).

From the online documentation (Importing from the Photos app on iPhone and iPad - Mylio Support):

Stopping Import from Apple Photos (on mobile)

If you have previously imported photos from your Apple device would like to prohibit Mylio from importing photos in the future, follow these steps:

  1. Outside of Mylio, navigate to Settings > Privacy > Photos.
  2. Locate Mylio in the list of applications that have access to your photos.
  3. Turn off Mylio’s photo access.
  4. Go back into Mylio and select the folder named after your device inside the top-level “Apple Photos” folder.
  5. Delete the folder named after your device to stop Mylio from importing. If you would like the photos in this folder preserved in your Mylio library you can move them to another folder in the app using the Mylio Clipboard first.

Hmm. Is there any way to instead embed keywords and tags into the files themselves? I know lightroom has that option. Then perhaps the sidecar files would only be generated for non-destructive edits?

It’s advisable, but not mandatory. As JC mentioned above, the device setting External Drive -> Add Without Moving will set up the existing images on the drive as a Source Folder, PLUS ALSO configure the drive as a Vault. The advantage: creates a self-contained, “portable” instance of your entire Mylio collection that can be moved from machine to machine - including its own copy of the Mylio database. Very robust and flexible.

It’s possible to just set up the folders on the external drive as Source Folders only. Settings -> Source Folders -> Add More Folders. I call these “naked” Source Folders. They will NOT be portable - those folders will be tied ONLY to the specific computer they are currently plugged into. The external drive’s files will be cataloged in the Mylio database on that computer - it will NOT have its own (portable, redundant) instance of the Mylio database. And obviously it will not have backups of your (non-Source-Folder) image files from other devices.

No, this has been a huge ongoing debate in the world of image metadata since long before Mylio was born. There are multiple Feature Request threads here in this forum discussing this at length.

Yes, some apps - like Lightroom - choose to EMBED metadata directly into the image file for non-camera-RAW files (JPEG, TIFF, DNG, etc). Different methods for each different type of file. Mylio uses the same method for all files.

Mylio is also a very REPLICATION-centric app. Some (like me) would consider syncing & replication to be the primary reason for Mylio’s existence. Imagine that every time you changed a single bit of metadata (added a Flag or Star Rating) that the ENTIRE large image file would have to be re-synced across all your devices! Syncing a tiny XMP text file when metadata changes is not a problem.

Adobe Lightroom Classic doesn’t sync anything, so it doesn’t have to worry about this. Mylio would need to implement some type of partial- or differential- file replication before they would even consider this.

There’s also the matter of letting apps WRITE to your precious image files at all - even if they’re just writing to the EXIF or XMP header section. That means a slight but increased chance to damage those files. Somewhat contrary to the idea of “non-destructive editing” in the first place.

EDIT: having said this - yes, Mylio has a way to MANUALLY force the tags to be written into non-RAW files. Select photo(s), and choose Photo -> Save Metadata to File. But there’s no way to have Mylio do this automatically.

Thanks. Good points. I need to think through this a bit. And maybe decide how OCD I want to be with all of this - i recognize the value of sidecar files but I also like the cleanness of the files without them. Like you said, it’s industry-standard so I may just need to get onboard. In any event, are xmp sidecar files ONLY created if you do something like tag, rate, or edit? They won’t be created for a photo if that photo is only ever just viewed in Mylio, right? In that case the only files that are created are located outside of my Media folder (previews and the library file)

Yes, as far as I know Mylio will only create the XMP sidecar file when you do something that needs to be “recorded” - like change metadata tags, face tags, geotags, or make any (non-destructive) image edits. At least for JPEG, TIFF, DNG, etc. Camera-RAW files of course will always have an XMP file, by design.

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Just to be clear, I meant that the XMP format is industry-standard. The XMP files created by Mylio can be read in other XMP-aware applications (Lightroom, iMatch, etc). Whether or not to use separate sidecar files or embed XMP data directly in the image file is completely non-standardized and subject to intense debate :slight_smile:

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@jimre has given you really good, useful info. The only thing I would add is to consider what your goals are.

For me - for example - the main motivator to use Mylio (even before I was a Mylio employee) was to be able to find and enjoy my photos. Because of the different views for your library Mylio provides and the synchronization of your organized library to any devices you want (regardless of OS), Mylio does make it incredibly easy to find either specific photos, or specific parts of my library (like all my theater related photos or all my underwater photos). And I can do so on whatever device I have with me, whether it is connected to the internet or not - is all right there at my fingertips. Want photos of Timmy’s graduation? click on the event in the calendar view. Going to my HS reunion and want every photo I have of my best HS friend? People view has an album with all his photos. My co-worker is going to Macchu Picchu and wants my opinion from my trip there in 2009 - Map view can show every photo and even the elevation contour lines for them. You get the idea.

If you’re only after extraction (from apple devices) and replication, then it seems you have a decent solution already. If you want more interactivity with your photos . . . :slightly_smiling_face:

Many long-term Mylio users started by bringing just a subset of their library into Mylio and then playing with it for a while. Perhaps that would be a good way for you to test the waters and see if it makes sense for you.

Happy to help.