Move Tropy between computers: file path-ways


I apologize for asking this question again, but I’m not particularly good at technology. I had to move my Tropy project from my work computer to my personal laptop. I have access to the metadata and the project itself, but I cannot view the images in Tropy. As far as I understand, I have to re-path so that the images are visible again. I tried to do this with the instructions provided here on the forum, but I can’t even figure out what a project file is or how to work SQLite.

Thank you.

  • Julianne

Your project file is the .tpy file you created when you first started Tropy (by default it would have been placed in your Documents folder.

If you still have everything on your work computer then one way to make the move is this:

  • Close Tropy
  • Move the project file to the folder where your pictures are
  • (At this time, also make a backup copy of your project file just to be safe)
  • Start Tropy; because you moved your project file, your project won’t open automatically. Hit Cmd/Ctrl+O and select your project file in the open dialog to open it.
  • Open Tropy’s preferences and enable ‘Developer Mode’
  • Close the preferences window and, while your project is still open, select ‘rebase project’ from the Developer menu (do this only once!). There will be no visible change, but at this point you can close Tropy and copy the folder with your pictures and your project file to the laptop.
  • After you’ve opened the project on your laptop and all the photos were consolidated you can re-base the project again if you want to move the project file to a different location; you can also keep it portable (but make sure it always stays in the folder with your pictures).

Alternatively, we can update the paths in your project file. I’m happy to help you do this, if you can send me your project file here (or via private message) and tell me where the photos are located on your laptop.

Hello. I am sorry if this is just endlessly repeating similar questions (or I should have started a new thread or something). I have followed your instructions for rebasing the project, with odd results. I should start by saying I managed to successfully move my project from my local hard drive to the icloud (photos and .tpy file are both there). It runs perfectly from my desktop. I then tried to make it also run from my laptop. I followed the instructions. Now 90% of the photos are grayed out (no thumbnails). But about 8% have thumbnails and, odder, 2% have full photos. I am not very SQLITE knowledgeable, but a friend followed your query instructions and said it looks fine. It seems to start ‘rebasing’ (does this mean indexing more or less?) and gets to about 10% and then just stops. I have given it a lot of time in case the network is just slow or something (actually I have tried at work (university wifi) and home (wifi with mesh internet on broadband) and no deal. I am just really at a loss now. I should add that the version running from home is still perfect after the rebasing. I thought it was a path problem, but if so why would a small percentage of it randomly work. Sorry if this is not very well put. Thanks so much!!

The only explanation is that Tropy still looks for your files in the wrong place. The easiest way to find out what’s wrong is to print out all the paths in your project file and compare them to what you actually have on disk on both computers.

With SQLite a quick way to do this would be sqlite3 ./path/to/project.tpy "select path from photos order by path" from a Terminal with the sqlite3 executable installed, or else just select path from photos order by path in an SQLite browser. This should print all the paths currently stored in your project file. There are a couple of important clues in that list:

  • Are the paths all absolute paths? Or are they all relative paths? For a portable project they should all be relative paths.
  • Are the relative paths correct relative to your project file. I.e., if the photos are all in the same folder as your project file then the list of paths should only include the photo filenames.

If the list looks good, the next question is to make sure that all the photos are actually there on both devices. If that’s the case then the only explanation for why the photos would not show up on one of the devices is that Tropy can’t open the files for some reason (also make sure the device has read permissions to them) – if you could post the tropy.log file from the device that does not show the pictures it might help us figure out what’s going on there.

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Hi Inukshuk,

When I get to the Developer Mode, I can’t find a “rebase project” option – can you be more specific about it’s location?

I have the same problem as everyone else – and am also not a programmer (although my IT support guys couldn’t figure it out either). I just need access on my PC to a stand alone copy (I don’t have to have a shareable one) of the archive my research assistant built on her Mac. At the risk of sounding stupid, why doesn’t moving everything onto an external hard-drive work?

If you enable developer mode in the preferences, a new entry ‘Developer’ will show up in the project window’s menu (on macOS it is in the application menu at the top). The ‘rebase project’ toggle is in that menu.

However, you need to rebase the project on your assistants Mac before you transfer it to your PC.

If you move everything to an external hard drive and open the project on a different computer (without making it portable first) everything ‘works’ but Tropy won’t find your photos, because they use a different path on the new computer. You would then have to consolidate (or re-associate) each photo individually – this is extremely tedious, so until we have a better UI solution for this, the best way to move the project is to make it portable first or to re-write all the paths using SQLite. I’d be happy to help with the latter, if you already have the file and all the photos on the external disk: you would have to send me the project file here (or in a private message) for me to update the paths for you.

Thank you so much for your quick response! So are you saying the using SQLIte would make re-writing all the paths easy? Would I just need to have the external disk and then send you the project file? Or would my RA need to send it to you from her computer? Is that a simple upload? How is this different than making the archive “portable”? I’m sorry that you have to spell everything out – I’m really trying - but struggling - to understand.

When you ‘rebase’ the project to make it ‘portable’ Tropy will look at all the photos and change their paths to be relative to the current location of the project file. For this to work, Tropy needs to be able to find the photos, so in your case, this would have to happen on your assistant’s computer.

  1. Move the project file to the external disk, into the same folder with all the photos.
  2. Make the project portable: this means Tropy will figure out where all the photos are relative to the project file on the external disk.

At this point you would be able to open the project on any other computer as long as you keep the project file on the external drive. To move the project permanently to another computer (or the photos to a new location) you could then rebase the project again after the move: then you’d be able to move the project file around again, independently of the photos. You can also just leave the portable project on the external hard drive of course (at the moment there are performance benefits if you keep the project file on a ‘fast’ disk though).

Anyway, if you’ve already ‘moved’ everything (i.e., you have the project and photos and your own computer) then rebasing won’t work anymore because Tropy does not know about the current location of the photos (we’ll address this very soon because this is causing way too much issues for everyone!). So in this case, the easiest thing is to re-write the paths in the database file directly: this should be easy as long as we know where your photos are located on your new computer (or, if we want a portable project, where the photos will be relative to the project file). Like I said, I’m happy to do this for you if you send me the project file (the .tpy file) here. You can attach the file to a message here in the forums; in case the project file is too big, you can also just send it to me at

Thank you so much!! I’ll follow your instructions and hopefully it will work.


Sorry to repeat the same questions over and over but I have tried following this thread to address my own particular issues with little success. I recently got a new computer and would like to be able to transfer my whole tropy project off my old computer to an external hard drive where the project and images would be housed permanently, rather than clog my new computer with the thousands of images. Unfortunately, I was less than organized with where all these images were housed on my old computer, split up in various subfolders. I copied my .tpy project file to the external hard drive and placed it into a folder with all of the images relevant to the project (or at least my best attempt by memory). I then opened the project file in the external hard drive and went through the process of rebasing it to make it portable. When I later opened the project file on the hard drive from my new computer, it opened just fine but while some of the images are being shown in the thumbnails, the vast majority aren’t (90% or more). How might I resolve this issue? If you need any more information, I am of course more than happy to provide it.

Many thanks!

When making the project portable it’s important to move the project file to the photos first, then open Tropy and re-base the project and close it again. Only then can you move the photos and the project file together.

Do you still have your old computer available and a backup of the original project file? If so, it’s probably best to do this differently now that Tropy has improved automatic consolidation. For more background please see the user manual but in your case I would suggest the following steps:

  1. On your old computer, move/copy the photos to the external hard drive (you’ve probably done this already so you can skip this step).
  2. Open the original project file (not re-based / portable one) on your new (!) computer and consolidate your photos as described in the user manual. For this, it does not matter where you put the project file (I would suggest to put the project file on your internal hard drive, it will not take up too much space and Tropy will perform better this way). Depending on where your photos were originally stored (relative to one another) you will only have to consolidate a handful photos by hand: every time you consolidate a photo, let Tropy run the automatic consolidation; then pick another photo that is missing, consolidate it and let Tropy run the automatic process again.

If you run into any issues, feel free to send me your project file so I can take a look at the paths in question. Also, if you don’t a have a copy of the original project file, just send me the re-based one and I’ll change the paths for you.

Thanks so much for the quick and detailed response! It took some time to consolidate groups of photo by hand but very, very happy to say all is now set and in good running order.

Hi @inukshuk,
I received e .tpy project from a phd student two days ago, and the files today. I don’t know where to put the files to rebuild the entier project (= to see the images in Tropy when the project is opened).
So I tried to list the paths with the sqlite3 tool but the command squlite3 myprojectfile.tpy "select path from photos order by path" returns Error: no such table; photos
Did I miss something ?

As described in the post above, the best way to transfer a project is to move the project file and all the photos (it’s your choice where to put the files; a common location might be a sub-folder of your ‘Pictures’ folder), open the project on the new device (just start Tropy and select File -> Open from the menu or press Cmd/Ctrl+O and select the tpy file) and then consolidate a single photo manually: Tropy will prompt you to select the respective photo file from your hard drive (wherever you’ve moved it). As long as you’ve moved all the photos to the new device in ‘one batch’ (i.e., you did not rename the photos or move them relative to one another) Tropy will then be able to consolidate all the other photos automatically.

If the sqlite3 tool can’t find the photos table in your project file then this is definitely not a Tropy project file; however, it’s also possible that you mistyped the name of the file: when you issue the command sqlite3 myprojectfile.tpy it’s important that the file myprojectfile.tpy actually exists in your current working directory. If that’s not the case, sqlite3 would create a new, empty database instead – I’m assuming that’s what happened in your case.

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Ok thanks a lot :+1:.
I didn’t understand that Trop would be able to consolidate all the other photos automatically. Sorry.
For information : I tried this before reading your answer :
I used the DB Browser for SQLite, and I found the “photos” table in the .tpy project. I’m not really confortable with SQL, so I tried this : export the data from DB Browser for SQLite from the “photos” table"; delete the data in the photos table > open it in LibreOffice Calc and change the path to the correct path > try to import the data in the empty table photo
But the software warned me that there was a problem with a foreign key for the first line.

In most cases it’s safer to let Tropy do the consolidation for you (in most cases you just need to point it to a single photo for this to work), but you can also update the database manually of course. If the photos all moved together, you can usually do this with a single update command and using the replace() function (e.g., update photos set path = replace(path, 'old', 'new') – but manipulating the database directly is potentially dangerous (please always make a backup copy!): in particular, deleting and re-creating photos will not work, because the photos table is referenced by many other tables.

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Yes, I knew that was a bad idea; I just tried - after backuping ! - to change the paths on the csv on reimport on the same table the same data; but it’s an awfull thing to do I imagine from a developper perspective; I note the update command, thanks.

I’ve just finished to consolidate the entire project with the Tropy native features; all is fine know :clap:

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