blender_sync_dropbox_feature

Keeping Blender Configs Synced Across Multiple Machines with Dropbox

Learn to use Dropbox to sync your Blender Settings across all your machines

If you use Blender on multiple machines, such as a desktop machine and a laptop, then chances are you get tired of constantly update your settings to match the other machine. This is particularly annoying anytime a new feature comes out and you change your default settings. Suddenly both machines are out-of-sync again.

In my studio, I have three machines. A 27″ iMac and a 15″ Retina Macbook Pro both running Mac OS X Mountain Lion, and then a custom desktop box running Ubuntu Linux. I use Blender on all of them. But due to the nature of constantly updating and improving my default configurations, I’m constantly finding the machines to have slightly different settings. More than anything, this is annoying for custom hotkeys.

For a while I simply stopped customizing my settings so that I wouldn’t have to worry about it being out of sync. Then I decided to solve this once and for all by making all of the machines sync automatically.

This is actually a little easier than it sounds.

Step 1: Use Dropbox

If you don’t already use Dropbox in your daily life then you’re missing out. It is an incredible piece of software that has become ingrained in daily life here at CG Cookie. We use it for everything. Seriously. It allows you to keep all of your files in sync across multiple machines, so long as those files are within the Dropbox folder.

 

dropbox-logotype-web@2x

If you’re not already familiar with Dropbox, then check out their tour HERE. Otherwise, I’m going to assume you already have it and know how to use it.

Step 2: Move Blender Config to Dropbox

Anytime you save your settings in Blender, it saves out specific files in a pre-defined location. This is also true for all user-installed add-ons, custom themes, etc. This location is known as the Blender Config folder and can be found at these locations:

Mac OS X: /Users/{user}/Library/Application Support/Blender/

Linux: $HOME/.config/blender/

Windows Vista/7/8 : C:\Users\username\AppData\Roaming\Blender Foundation\Blender\

Windows XP: C:\Documents and Settings\username\Application Data\Blender Foundation\Blender\

First you’ll need to find the directory above. In recent version of Mac OS X, and in Windows, the Library/ and AppData\ directories are hidden. But you can access them from the location bar in Windows by typing in the exact path, and in OS X by pressing Cmd+G from your home user home and typing “Library”.

Once you have found the Blender/ directory, we need to move it into the Dropbox. In my case, I’ve moved it to Dropbox/Blender-Config/Blender/

Note: while doing this don’t do ANYTHING with Blender. If you open or save anything with Blender during this move it’ll create a new settings directory, which you’ll have to remove.

We are now ready to do the real magic, making symbolic links.

 

Step 3: Make Symbolic Links

If you’re not familiar with symbolic links, then you’re in for a treat! Symbolic links act a bit like shortcuts, but they’re better. When you create a symbolic link from one location to another, it creates a connection between the two locations, making your computer think they both go to the exact same place, when in reality only the original location is real.

This is useful because it means we can store our Blender config directory in Dropbox and yet make Blender think it’s still in the original location.

For this tutorial, I’m going to show you how to create the symbolic links via command line on Mac OS X and Linux. If you’re on Windows then check out this tutorial from HowToGeek for the symbolic link portion:

To create the symbolic link first open a command prompt (on OS X use /Applications/Utilities/Terminal.app). Next do the following (be sure you’ve moved your Blender/ directory to Dropbox!):

 

cardboardbox_arrowsMac OS X:

cd Library/Application\ Support/

ln -s /Users/username/Dropbox/Blender-Config/ Blender

Linux: 

cd .config/

ln -s $HOME/Dropbox/Blender-Config/ Blender

That’s it! You should now have a symbolic link from the original config location to Dropbox. You can test this by going to the original location and checking for a Blender/ directory. Opening that directory will then take you to Dropbox/Blender-Config/Blender/. This also means that now when Blender saves out any settings, Blender will think it’s saving them to the normal location, when it’s actually saving all settings to Dropbox. Nifty huh?

But wait, there’s more.

Step 4: Repeat for Each Machine

You now need to recreate the above symbolic link for each of your machines that you want synced. Otherwise the syncing will not do any good.

Once you have done this you are ready to go!

Step 5: Live in Peace

With all machines now synced with Dropbox, and the symbolic links in place for each machine, your Blender settings will automatically be synced. This includes all add-ons you install, any themes your create, any layouts you change, and even any custom hot-keys you add.

Enjoy!

 

computers-synced

 

FAQs:

Q: Can I use other syncing software, such as Sugar Sync with this technique?

A: You sure can! Any software that keeps files in sync between multiple machines should do the trick. The symbolic links are what make this work, not the syncing software specifically.

 

 

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Discussion

43 Responses to “Keeping Blender Configs Synced Across Multiple Machines with Dropbox”
  1. Posts: 2
    noko says:

    >2012
    >using macs

  2. Posts: 1
    Eli Simon says:

    I’m on a mac and Blender is not in the Application Support Folder. I don’t know how to find the Blender/directory. Help!

    • Posts: 491
      Metalix says:

      I don’t use a mac but try searching your hard drive for blender.
      -Alex

    • Posts: 92
      Joel Godin says:

      There are two ‘Library’s on a Mac. Look in both. Mine was in Users/myname/Library/
      That is different from /Library (or Macintosh HD/Library).

  3. Posts: 1
    esaeo says:

    On a Mac, I copied the path to the new location, entering it as:

    ln -s /Users/mthrapp/Desktop/DROPBOX – ESAEO/Dropbox/- LIBRARY/Blender Library/- Config/Blender

    And the Terminal returns “No such file or directory”. I copied it verbatim. What am I missing

    • Posts: 92
      Joel Godin says:

      Sounds kind of long. Not sure how you have Dropbox set up on your Mac, but on mine, I don’t go through the desktop. My command on your computer would be ln -s Users/mthrapp/Dropbox/Blender-Config/Blender
      Make sure though, you do that after cd Library/Application\ Support/

  4. Posts: 1

    ATTENTION Mac users, I was having the “No such file or directory” Terminal message too, but it was in response to the cd Library/Application\ Support/ command, not to the ln -s /Users/username/Dropbox/Blender-Config/Blender one.

    It appears the first command line was missing a part, and I actually put my actual username in both of them (only small letters), so the whole thing as it worked for me was:

    cd /Users/myactualusername/Library/Application\ Support/
    ln -s /Users/myactualusername/Dropbox/Blender-Config/Blender

    And only that made the alias folder, none of several other options had worked first. Some others created a sort of “alias blanc file”, but it never really worked and the test suggested in the cgcookie instructions never took me to the original folder in Dropbox, and it does now. So don’t be misguided, this worked for me.

    Hope it helps.

    Best,

    Demian

  5. Posts: 1
    Ed Baker says:

    Is it possible to sync between Mac and PC? will the PC read/write the same as my mac?

  6. Posts: 2
    karhu says:

    Thank you! Great tip and big time saver. And to make this bit easier for at least windows users: With Sugarsync, you can sync folders straight to the cloud and sync from cloud to excisting folders. No need to make those symbolic links. :)

  7. Posts: 3
    Andrew says:

    When I put in In -s etc… Terminal says “command not found”

    Any help?

  8. Posts: 1
    Bilal Mamdoo says:

    Hey Jonathan,

    Is it possible for you to tell me how to sync blender libraries (materials, models) for different machines to use?

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