Moving Your iPhoto Library to an External Drive


NOTE: Updated with instructions for iPhoto '11 (part of iLife '11). Instructions for iPhoto '09, '08 and '06 are still included.

Free up space on your hard drive
Copying the iPhoto Library  <br>Click to see a larger image
Copying the iPhoto Library
Click to see a larger image
I've had several conversations lately with people who are filling up their hard drive with photos from their digital cameras. This isn't too surprising because if you are like me you take tons of photos and never delete any. And as digital cameras are getting better, their file sizes are getting larger.

Your main hard drive contains the system files for Mac OS X and all the files for all the users. Eventually, even with the best of housekeeping, you run out of space to keep new files. At that point it makes sense to invest in an external hard drive.

Almost any external hard drive you find will be of good quality. Get a Firewire drive if you have an older Mac and a USB 2.0 drive if you have a newer Mac. Somewhere in the size range of 300 gig will keep you happy for quite a while.

Once you have your new external hard drive, you can move your iPhoto library to it. This will free up the space on your main hard drive and let you grow your iPhoto library to thousands of photos.

Note: If you have a notebook Mac, this tip isn't very practical. You would have to have the external drive plugged in every time you opened iPhoto.

Moving your iPhoto library isn't very difficult, but there is always the risk of making a mistake and losing data. Losing precious photos isn't a good thing, so BACK UP FIRST. Check out the Basics4Mac ebook The Backup Plan if you need help getting started making backups.

What we are going to do is actually COPY the iPhoto library from the main hard drive to the external drive. This is safer than just moving because if something happens during the copy we still have the original library. Once you are sure that everything copied properly, then you can delete the iPhoto library from the main hard drive.

Here are the steps to make the copy of your iPhoto library. It would be helpful if you print these instructions out since they are longer and a little more involved than normal tips on Basics4Mac.

  1. Quit iPhoto if it is running.
  2. Make sure your external drive is connected and turned on. In the Finder, the external drive will show as an orange drive icon in the left pane.
  3. Open two Finder windows and position them one on top of the other as shown in the image on the right. (click the image to see it larger.)
  4. In the top Finder window, start at your Home folder (the one with the icon of the house and your user name by it) and select the Pictures folder. Inside the Pictures folder you should see a folder called iPhoto Library.
  5. In the bottom Finder window, select your external drive. That is where we are copying the iPhoto Library to.
  6. Select the iPhoto Library folder from the top Finder window. Drag it to the bottom Finder window. This will start a copy process. How long the copy takes depends on how large your iPhoto library is, but it should take at least several minutes.
Now we need to tell iPhoto that you have moved the iPhoto library and where to look for it.

Tell iPhoto '11 and '09 to choose the Library  <br>Click to see a larger image
Tell iPhoto '11 and '09 to choose the Library
Click to see a larger image
[iPhoto '11 and '09]
  1. If iPhoto is open, quit it.
  2. Go to the Pictures folder of your Home folder.
  3. Rename "iPhoto Library" to "iPhoto Library.old". (To rename a file, click the file name once. Pause a second, then click the file name again. The file name will be highlighted in light blue and you can type to rename the file.)
  4. Open iPhoto. You will see a dialog box like the one on the right. If you don't see the dialog box, click the iPhoto icon on your Dock. This dialog box likes to hide behind other windows for some reason.
  5. There will be two items listed in the scroll box, one called "iPhoto Library" and one called "iPhoto Library.old". Select "iPhoto Library". (This is the one that you moved to the external hard drive.)
  6. Click the Choose button.
  7. iPhoto will open and you should see your photos.
Tell iPhoto '06 & '08 to look for the Library  <br>Click to see a larger image
Tell iPhoto '06 & '08 to look for the Library
Click to see a larger image
[iPhoto '06 and '08]
  1. Hold down the Option key on the keyboard and open iPhoto. You will see a dialog box like the one on the right.
  2. Click the Choose Library... button. You will get a standard Open dialog window.
  3. Click on your external hard drive icon (the orange one) in the left pane. You should then see the iPhoto Library folder that you copied earlier.
  4. Select the iPhoto Library folder and click the Open button. iPhoto will open and you should see your photos.
I suggest that you wait a week or so to make sure there aren't any problems before you drag the original iPhoto Library in your Home > Pictures folder to the Trash.

NOTE: If you want to maintain two (or more) iPhoto Libraries, a smaller one on your internal hard drive and a larger one on your external hard drive for example, there is a great application for that. Check out iPhoto Library Manager.

Related Items: iPhoto

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Comments


Moving Your iPhoto Library to an External Drive | 216 comments
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
Moving Your iPhoto Library to an External Drive
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, August 28 2007

Will this also work for drives connected to the new Airport Extreme Base Station? Also, can multiple Macs access the iPhoto library in this way? For example, one household, multiple Macs, and one library.

Moving Your iPhoto Library to an External Drive
Authored by: chrisb on Tuesday, August 28 2007

Yes, you can move your iPhoto Library to an external drive connected to an Airport Extreme Base Station, but a wifi connection is far slower than a directly connected external drive. I did some testing and while it worked, I got the spinning beach ball over and over and performance was lousy - not something you'd want to do on a regular basis.

As far as sharing among multiple users, that works, but only one person can access the iPhoto Library at a time.

Moving Your iPhoto Library to an External Drive
Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, January 05 2013
Moving Your iPhoto Library to an External Drive
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, September 14 2007
This was a good step by step. I would love to post this to my site also. This is a problem that affects so many users, even on their business machines.

Bryan Jefferson
http://www.thesohoshop.com
Moving Your iPhoto Library to an External Drive
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, November 09 2007

Hi,
I noticed that the aliasses in the iphoto library do link to the original pics on my hard drive. The reason is probably that I did not choose to import the original photos to iphoto, but wanted to have them in other folders in the original file structure.
Is there a way to change this?
I have 11,000 photos and have keywords and comments attached to them, so I don't want to import them to the new iphoto library.

Thanks,
Georg

Moving Your iPhoto Library to an External Drive
Authored by: chrisb on Friday, November 09 2007

I don't think you can change them without re-importing which you don't want to do.

But if you already have the image files on your hard drive why do you want to change things?


Moving Your iPhoto Library to an External Drive
Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, November 11 2007

Thanks for the quick reply!
Sorry, I didn't express myself clearly: I have the pics on my internal hard drive and would like to free space there. So it seems that all the hours I spent adding keywords and comments would be lost if I move the pics to the external drive? Oh my god!
best,
Georg

Moving Your iPhoto Library to an External Drive
Authored by: chrisb on Sunday, November 11 2007

I hate to say it, but I tested it and it is true. If you move your files from the internal HD to the external one, you will lose your meta data.

Just to be clear here-- this is only true if you store your photos OUTSIDE of the iPhoto Library. If you let iPhoto manage your photos, then you can move the iPhoto Library to an external HD following the instructions above and all will be fine.

Moving Your iPhoto Library to an External Drive
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, May 14 2008

I am in this exact situation, with nearly 50K photos stored outside of iPhoto. Has anyone found a way to either

(a) have iPhoto ingest all of these external photos and maintain the existing metadata

or

(b) bulk change the shortcuts that are located within the iPhoto package that point to the originals (so that I can point them to their new location on an external drive)?

Thanks so much for the advice.

Moving Your iPhoto Library to an External Drive
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, December 22 2008

I went through this once. I was storing my photos on my external drive (which Iphoto allows) and after running into enough problems decided to get iphoto library manager and found that I could create an entire iphoto library on an external drive. This way the metadata, thumbnails, and modified images are all in one place and "full sized export" works.

secret is that Iphoto actually stores a Unix-style symbolic link pointing from where the original SHOULD BE if Iphoto was holding photos to where it really is, and that seems to be the extent of Iphoto's knowledge of the actual location of the photos. The trick is to copy the actual file to where the link is. I used the following Unix script for this purpose. Once I did this and verified that I in fact had everything, things worked and I could move my entire library by simply copying the library and all associated files (I actually keep a complete backup of the library on another drive). NOTE - I do not have photos or directories with spaces. Also, I have Iphoto 6 - version 8 may make things more difficult (or easy).

target="$1"

if [ ! -d "$target" ]
then print "usage - $0 targetdir"
exit 2
fi

thisrun=$$

for file in $(find "$target" -type l -print)
do
target="$(readlink $file)"
if [ -f "$target" ]
then
echo "copying $target to $file"
cp -p "$target" "$file.tmp$thisrun"
if [ "$?" -eq 0 ]
then
rm "$file"
mv "$file.tmp$thisrun" "$file"
else
rm "$file.tmp$thisrun"
fi
else
echo "missing target for $file"
fi
done

Moving Your iPhoto Library to an External Drive
Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, February 21 2010

I've got the same problem here:
10Gigs of tagged, organised, photos in my own folder (not in iphoto library folder) that I want to ingest into an iphoto library folder (to be able to move it to an external HD).

I don't feel ready to try the script thing. I couldn't understand if that was essential to the proposed solution, or a kind of alternative. Any ideas?
I'm on iphoto '08, would an update solve my problem?

Btw, I read somewhere else that you can burn off your iphoto library to a DVD (meta-data and all) and reimport it. This is what I'll most likely do if there's no less ridiculous solution!

(and I thought I was being clever using my own folder organisation)

Peter

Moving Your iPhoto Library to an External Drive
Authored by: chrisb on Sunday, February 21 2010

Hi Peter--

There are two possible situations here and I'm not sure which one you fall into:

You have an iPhoto Library that is storing all of your metadata, events, faces, etc but the actual photos are stored in folders outside of the iPhoto Library. (This is what the poster above was doing)

You simply have folders of photos on your hard drive with no iPhoto Library associated with it. (I _think_ this is what you are saying)

In the first case, you would need to do something complicated like the script above (which I cannot vouch for since I have not tested it myself). Or your idea of exporting the iPhoto Library to DVDs would probably take longer but be less complicated.

In the second case, why not just import all the photos you have currently stored in folders directly into iPhoto. I'm not sure what metadata you have associated with simple image files, but most of it will come through to iPhoto. Worst case you can just try it with a new Library to see how it works.

Chris

Moving Your iPhoto Library to an External Drive
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, February 23 2010

Sorry for not being more precise while seeking to be concise! I am in the former case, so will at some point do the DVD export-re-import thing.

Thanks very much for your response, confirming that there doesn't seem to be any better way.

Peter

Moving Your iPhoto Library to an External Drive
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, January 20 2011

HELP ME!!!!!!!! I have a mac mini. I am trying to put (iphoto 2008) pictures on an EHD. I have copied the files. Which Library do I choose??? The one on the internal hard drive or external? I have done this many ways and whenever I delete pictures from either one if erases them from both drives!!!
Please Help!!!


Moving Your iPhoto Library to an External Drive
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, January 02 2008

Great site. If I follow your instructions above, will I have any issues with iWeb and Web Gallery trying to locate photos or update folders that were created prior to transferring the photos? Thanks.

Moving Your iPhoto Library to an External Drive
Authored by: chrisb on Wednesday, January 02 2008

Thanks!

When you open iPhoto with the Option Key held down, you are telling iPhoto where to find your iPhoto Library. iPhoto then shares that info with iWeb, etc so they can find your photos as well.

--chrisb

Moving Your iPhoto Library to an External Drive
Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, January 13 2008

I followed the instructions and i got a message that says that my external drive can not be modified. I have a 500G Western digital Mybook, which is supposed to work with MAC, and a 4G ibook 12", what am i doing wrong?

Moving Your iPhoto Library to an External Drive
Authored by: chrisb on Sunday, January 13 2008

is this a brand new drive that you don't have any other data on?

If so you might want to go to Disk Utility and format it in Mac OS X format. When you bought it it was formatted for PC (which works, but Mac formatting is better)


Moving Your iPhoto Library to an External Drive
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, January 15 2008

Thanks! I did use the disk utility, using the partition option that helped reformat the disk and now it works!

Moving Your iPhoto Library to an External Drive
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, January 23 2008
Great step by step instructions. Quick question. I've copied the iphoto library to an external hard drive - it's about 12 GB. I've tried to burn a copy to a DVD as an extra backup - but the max space on a DVD is 4.7 GB. So, how do I chop the iPhoto library up to make it fit on three DVDs?

Once I get this all figured out - I plan on only keeping 12 months of photos on my laptop - I'll delete the rest off. I'll use iPhoto from my laptop to manage those photos & any I add. I'll go to the external hard drive if I need the older pictures.

Any thoughts?
Thanks!
David
www.theleventhals.com
Moving Your iPhoto Library to an External Drive
Authored by: chrisb on Thursday, January 24 2008
Glad to hear that you are thinking about backing up that external hard drive!!!

Mac OS X doesn't have any way to span data across multiple CDs or DVDs which is what you need to do.

The best way to do this is with Backup 3 which is part of dot Mac. Of course dot Mac is a subscription service that cost $99 / year but it does offer alot for the price. (You can learn more about dot Mac at this link to the Apple Store: http://tinyurl.com/34k2ly)

If you want a free solution, check out this tip:

http://basics4mac.com/article.php?story=fgdatabackup
Moving Your iPhoto Library to an other computer
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, March 10 2008

That's a great step by step.. and working well..
I would have another request, if you could give me a tip...
I use 2 computers.. imac at home and MB Pro, when travelling.. to load my pictures...
I love using keywords and albums...
how I can synchronize my 2 macs, when back from holiday ?
is it only possible to erase all my imac HDD.. and copy my library from my MBP ?
(would be little bit fastidious to do it, each time...)
do you have any other way to manage this ?
thanks a lot !
Thierry

Moving Your iPhoto Library to an other computer
Authored by: chrisb on Wednesday, March 12 2008
Hi Thierry--

I knew there was an answer but it just wasn't coming to me. Then it hit me in the middle of the night last night: A piece of software called iPhoto Library Manager.

http://www.fatcatsoftware.com/iplm/

It comes in a free mode and a paid mode ($20US) for access to advanced features. One of the advanced features is the ability to merge iPhoto Libraries without losing any of your keywords or edits.

With iPhoto Library Manager you could keep a master Library on your iMac and then build a secondary Library on your MBP when you travel. Then when you get home you could merge the secondary Library into the Master Library.

Sound good?

--chrisb
Moving Your iPhoto Library to an other computer
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, February 11 2011

Are there any tutorials to help a beginner understand how to use two different libraries. I am using a older macbook and I have a lot of pictures. I want most of them on external hard drive and only my most recent photos on the macbook.
I would like to make sure I have told iphoto where to find my recent pictures.
I also need to be able to have iphoto connect and recognize my photos on the external hard drive when needed.

-Kris

Moving Your iPhoto Library to an External Drive
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, March 13 2008

Afternoon,
great instructions on moving the iPhoto Library, went well on 8k worth of pictures. iPhoto sees the new libraries location no issue. However iTunes somehow sees the old library with no content???? Any guidance to getting iTunes on the same "page" as iPhoto? Thxs.

Moving Your iPhoto Library to an External Drive
Authored by: chrisb on Thursday, March 13 2008

You have to do the same trick with iTunes that you do with iPhoto.... Hold down the option key when you open iTunes. You will then be asked to locate the music library. Navigate to the iTunes library on your external drive and select that one.

--chrisb

Moving Your iPhoto Library to an External Drive
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, March 13 2008

Thxs Chris for the speedy reply but it looks like I didn't explain myself clearly. I'm looking to change the location of the iPhoto Library within iTunes in order to sync to an photo iPod.

Moving Your iPhoto Library to an External Drive
Authored by: chrisb on Thursday, March 13 2008

oh. it ought to just find it. let me do some checking and I'll get back to you (family in town for the weekend)


Moving Your iPhoto Library to an External Drive
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, March 13 2008

Thxs Chris, much appreciated!!

John F

Moving Your iPhoto Library to an External Drive
Authored by: chrisb on Friday, March 14 2008

John-- Do you have Leopard (10.5) or Tiger (10.4)?

Moving Your iPhoto Library to an External Drive
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, March 14 2008

Leopard, 10.5

Moving Your iPhoto Library to an External Drive
Authored by: chrisb on Sunday, March 16 2008

Try this and let me know what happens:

Open the photo browser in Mail or iMovie '08. Do your photos show up there?

--chrisb

Moving Your iPhoto Library to an External Drive
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, March 18 2008

looks like they're both pointing to the same location as iTunes, which is not what iPhoto is pointing to.

Moving Your iPhoto Library to an External Drive
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, March 18 2008

now I'm really confused. I opened iPhoto so that I could create a new library on the internal drive. Closed out iPhoto went into iTunes and it sees the new library. Went back into iPhoto, switched to the external library, closed iPhoto, went to iTunes and again the wrong old "missing" library shows up.

Moving Your iPhoto Library to an External Drive
Authored by: chrisb on Tuesday, March 18 2008
well, I'm a bit confused, too. I've tested various scenarios on my computer and have had no problems. I did some searching online and I found this link:

http://macosx.com/forums/mac-os-x-system-mac-software/270371-imovie-6-missing-iphoto-library.html

It appears to be a similar problem to yours. I don't completely agree with the answer, however. Deleting preference files won't cause any damage, but will undo the customization that you have done to your applications. I suggest that from the above answer, you _move_ com.apple.iApps.plist _to the desktop_ so you can put it back if that does not solve your issue. Test after moving com.apple.iApps.plist to see if that fixed things before moving the other plist files.

--chrisb
Moving Your iPhoto Library to an External Drive
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, April 09 2008

"Get a Firewire drive if you have an older Mac and a USB 2.0 drive if you have a newer Mac."

Wouldn't the reverse be a better recommendation? Newer Macs will surely sport a Firewire drive, which is much faster of course.

Moving Your iPhoto Library to an External Drive
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, May 05 2008

Thanks. When I hold down the Option key and open iPhoto, the dialog box doesn't open. How do I proceed without it?

Moving Your iPhoto Library to an External Drive
Authored by: chrisb on Monday, May 05 2008

Are you holding down the option key long enough? Make sure you hold it down _until_ you see the dialog box.

--chrisb

Moving Your iPhoto Library to an External Drive - worked fab for ages...
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, June 06 2008

Chris

Great contribution to the forum - been doing this for a while, and works great, but got the impression that iphoto doesn't really really like it.... anyways been fine for months, but recently i created a second library on my powerbook for when i don't have the hard drive. All fine, but in the last two days...

When i option key when opening iphoto - select the library on the hard drive. It finds it, occasionally says thumbnails need updating, but no images appear at all, or albums. Check the file - still 40gb, doesn't say it is corrupted..

Wanting to sort this to move over to Aperture - any thoughts?

Cheers

Ash

Moving Your iPhoto Library to an External Drive - worked fab for ages...
Authored by: chrisb on Friday, June 06 2008

Hi Ash--

You aren't mixing Libraries for iPhoto '06 and '08 are you? I can see where iPhoto wouldn't like that very much.

I have several iPhoto Libraries that I switch between and have never had any problems.

As for Aperture, I haven't used it, so I can't comment.

--chrisb

doesnt let me choose library!!!
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, June 25 2008

I've had all my pictures on an external hard drive for about 3 years now, I only open Iphoto when its connected to my notebook. I was away from home and needed to empty my camera so I just put it in a new library on my notebook hard drive to transfer to the regular library when I returned. Now I cant get iphoto to let me choose a library. It opens up the new library I started while away and wont recognize the old one on my external hard drive. The picture files are all there but I cant open any of them. When I hold down the option button I get the little menu that says: Remove from dock, open at login...etc. instead of letting me choose a new library location. I had this problem once before and I took it to a store but I dont remember how they fixed it. Any ideas??

doesnt let me choose library!!!
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, June 25 2008

How weird-- I logged on here just now to report this same problem (I created a copy of iPhoto on my ext drive, and now want to be able to open the app on my desktop, and keep the ext drive copy as a backup). How do we get the Mac to 'choose' the hard drive iPhoto instead of the copy on the external drive?

K

iPhoto video lost to iMovie 08
Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, July 05 2008

Help! Everything worked perfectly, until I checked in iMovie(08). I have a ton of projects in iMovie. I know that the video files are pulled from iPhoto. Since making the move to the external drive, iMovie gives me the yellow exclamation mark. The photos turn up fine and iMovie sees the photo library fine. Is this a drive formatting issue that iMovie can't access the video contents of iPhoto through an external drive? I have a 160 gig MyBook drive and it says it is formatted to "Mac OS Extended (Journaled). I don't know what any of that means, but it defaulted there. Please help!

Nick

iPhoto video lost to iMovie 08
Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, July 05 2008

...one more thing I just noticed. The footage in the Event Library of iMovie is all there. It is apparently found just fine. Its the Project Library footage (video only!) that has the exclamation mark. For example, with in a single project, that may have combined video and photos, the videos have the exclamation but the photos are fine. Also, I am able to see these videos in the Project Library editing pane even though they have the exclamation point....

Missing files
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, July 17 2008

I followed the above instructions & now I have "lost" all of my photos from the past two years!
There are no sub-folders for 2007 or 2008. I looked for them in the original location & I can't find them there either. I'm starting to panic......

Moving Your iPhoto Library to an External Drive
Authored by: chrisb on Thursday, July 17 2008

Hi--

I'll bet you didn't really move your iPhoto folder to the external drive, but rather it got moved somewhere on your startup disk. (I've done that before and had the same panic.)

Try this query in Spotlight "kind:folder 2007" (no quotes) it will probably help you track down the missing folders.

--chrisb

Moving Your iPhoto Library to an External Drive
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, July 18 2008

Spotlight?
Sorry - I feel like I'm fumbling around in the dark: & I thought I was pretty well versed on this Mac stuff...!
What is/where do I find "Spotlight"?

Moving Your iPhoto Library to an External Drive
Authored by: chrisb on Friday, July 18 2008

SpotLight is the small magnifying glass icon on the far right of the menu bar. click it and you will get a text entry field.

Moving Your iPhoto Library to an External Drive
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, July 18 2008

I am once again humbled by my lack of knowledge. I do not see/cannot find a magnifying glass icon anywhere (except in the Google search bar).

Moving Your iPhoto Library to an External Drive
Authored by: chrisb on Friday, July 18 2008

what version of Mac OS X do you have?

Moving Your iPhoto Library to an External Drive
Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, July 19 2008

OSX 10.3.9

Moving Your iPhoto Library to an External Drive
Authored by: chrisb on Saturday, July 19 2008

that makes sense. Spotlight didn't arrive until 10.4.

It has been years since I used 10.3 so my memory of it is pretty fuzzy. There is a Find feature in the Finder, though-- try Command-F. Then type 2007 and see if it comes up with a folder.

Since it is hard to troubleshoot via emails, you might consider Live Help where I can connect to your computer and see your screen. Check out the Live Mac Help link at the top of the page.

--chrisb

Missing files
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, July 18 2008

I followed the above instructions & now I have "lost" all of my photos from the past two years!
There are no sub-folders for 2007 or 2008. I looked for them in the original location & I can't find them there either. I'm starting to panic......

Missing files
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, July 23 2008

Have you tried searching the entire drive for the folders (using the "Find" command)? Also try other drives you have connected. They're there somewhere. You just need to keep looking.

Moving Your iPhoto Library to an External Drive
Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, August 24 2008

Have gone through the steps above, and it all works well so far. I still haven't deleted the original copy of my iphoto library - I'll wait a few days just to make sure everything is working well - but was wondering if i need to hold down option every time I open iphoto now to ensure that it opens the version on my external HD?

Moving Your iPhoto Library to an External Drive
Authored by: chrisb on Sunday, August 24 2008

No. Once you tell iPhoto once where to look, it will look there every time.

--chrisb

Moving Your iPhoto Library to an External Drive
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, September 16 2008

I moved my library over to an external hard drive no problem, but I can't figure out how to get new photos to import directly to the library on the external. Can you offer any guidance?

Thanks
Nate

Moving Your iPhoto Library to an External Drive
Authored by: chrisb on Tuesday, September 16 2008

Hi Nate. iPhoto should be putting all the photos that you are importing into the iPhoto Library, regardless of whether the Library is on the internal hard drive or an external one.

Did you hold down the option key when you started iPhoto to tell iPhoto to look for your Library on the external drive?

--chrisb

Moving Your iPhoto Library to an External Drive
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, September 23 2008

I have a similar issue as Georg. I have copied my iPhoto library to a WD external drive but have lost all labels (film roll titles and picture titles) even if I allow iPhoto manage my photos by holding down the option key and choosing the appropriate library. Any suggestions?

Moving Your iPhoto Library to an External Drive
Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, October 11 2008

I moved my iPhoto library to an external drive and everything seems to be working well in the iPhoto environment: labels, albums, etc. The problem now is that I can't sync my iPhone because iTunes doesn't "see" the library. ¿Any clues?

Thanks!

Alberto

Moving Your iPhoto Library to an External Drive
Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, October 12 2008

I figured out the problem. I individually moved folders from my iphoto library - not the whole library. When I started over and moved the entire library, it worked like a charm.

Moving Your iPhoto Library to an External Drive
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, October 13 2008

I am so scared of transfering all my pictures to an external hard drive and then not finding it. I have read all the comments but still a little worried tat something will happen wrong.
So I am asuming that if I transfer everything in my iPhoto library that I can only have my external drive pluged in to use iPhoto?

Moving Your iPhoto Library to an External Drive
Authored by: chrisb on Monday, October 13 2008

Hi-- It really isn't that hard to move your photos to an external drive. But if you still have apprehension, I can help you. (see the link at the top of the page)

Yes, you are right, once you have moved your photos to an external drive, you must have that drive connected to use iPhoto.

--chrisb

Moving Your iPhoto Library to an External Drive
Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, January 11 2009

Hi Chris, thanks for the tips; I did use it to move my library and it worked flawlessly off the EDD for some months; but lately has taken to simply showing no photos inside the albums. I backed up on a DVD right away, and now at am a loss how to proceed.
Thanks for your help
RS

Moving Your iPhoto Library to an External Drive
Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, January 11 2009

All I can think of is that somehow your iPhoto Library got reset to look for your library on the internal drive.

Try opening iPhoto with the Option key held down and chose you library from the EDD and see if that does the trick.

--Chrisb

Moving Your iPhoto Library to an External Drive
Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, January 11 2009

Thank you for the speedy reply!
I did already try holding down the Opt key, and what I got was what I talked about, a list of albums without any photo content.
Thanks
RS

Moving Your iPhoto Library to an External Drive
Authored by: chrisb on Sunday, January 11 2009

Hmmm.

Try this... Right Click on your iPhoto Library and choose Get Info. The Size should be several hundred megabytes or even several gig if you have a large library. If the number is small, then you aren't looking in the right place for your iPhoto library or (horror) your photos aren't there.

Moving Your iPhoto Library to an External Drive
Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, January 11 2009

Hi
Once again, thanks for the reply. I know the photos are there because I can open them in Preview off the EDD. It's just that iPhoto is unable to see them. I tried importing them back to my internal HD (by Opt+iPhoto-> create library-> File-> Import) and that worked for 8K (of 9K) of them, except that they were sans album assignations. Ideally, I'd like to have my original iPhoto Library back; do you think that the Album.xml file might be corrupted? For whatever reason, it's (Album.xml's) icon is that of Adobe GoLive, have no idea how or when that happened.
Thank you!!!!
RS

Moving Your iPhoto Library to an External Drive
Authored by: chrisb on Sunday, January 11 2009

I deleted my AlbumData.xml file as an experiment and that didn't cause me to loose albums, events, etc. In fact, iPhoto just rebuild the AlbumData.xml file the same as it was before.

I suppose it wouldn't hurt to move AlbumData.xml to the desktop and let iPhoto create a new one.

Beyond that I don't know what to suggest without looking at your files. You might consider a session of Live Help. (Click the details link at the top of the page for more info.)

-chrisb


Moving Your iPhoto Library to an External Drive
Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, January 11 2009

Hi,
Maybe this is it: iPhoto does not create an Albums.xml file for me.
Thanks for your time. I do appreciate it.
RS

Moving Your iPhoto Library to an External Drive
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, January 12 2009

Hi Chris
Just as a follow-up, I did end up solving the problem. I use Time Machine to back-up the EHD on which I store my iPhoto library, so I just trashed my iPhoto library and copied and pasted a recent version from Time Machine to EHD. It's working fine now. I'm guessing there was a corrupt file in one of the data files, but that's just a guess.
Thank you again for your time.
RS

Moving Your iPhoto Library to an External Drive
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, November 10 2008

I have tried this several times and get to the point of holding the option button down while opening iphoto and nothing....iphoto just opens and that's it. Help

Moving Your iPhoto Library to an External Drive
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, November 17 2008

i just did this, as my iphoto library is (was) on my sisters iMac, and i got a new Terrabyte external firewire drive.

if you are worried about where your photos are living in iPhoto now, right-click, (or Ctrl-click) on any photo, choose "Show File". when the finder window opens highlighting the file you had selected, click the Path icon at the top of the window to see the path to the file. It will show you the hard drive, and listed upwards, all the sub-folders, then inside your "iPhoto Library" (which is actually a folder in disguise) and right where the photo is living. If it shows your external hard drive at the bottom of the list, then iPhoto is getting your pictures from there. if not, then iPhoto is still looking at your internal hard drive- or other external hard drive.

i had used SuperDuper to back up all my stuff on my sisters iMac, so there is a current iPhoto library in the Users/MYname/Pictures/iPhotoLibrary. i used the "option startup, choose different library" trick to point iPhoto to the iPhoto library on the external drive. I just imported some new photos, and when i "show file" it lives on the external drive. like i want it to.

if you want to look inside the iPhoto Library on a disk, and see what folders and files are in there, Right-click or Ctrl-Click on "iPhoto Library" and choose "Show Package Contents" all your photos are in the "Originals" folder. but don't be adding files directly into any of the folders in there. iPhoto won't recognize them, cause they aren't in the iPhoto index.

Moving Your iPhoto Library to an External Drive
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, January 08 2009

Hi, i moved my iphoto library per your instructions with no problem. But when i open iphoto it's empty. I tried to open with the new library on the hard drive as well as the existing library that i have not deleted yet and neither work. There are no pictures showing. Please help! Thank you!

Moving Your iPhoto Library to an External Drive
Authored by: chrisb on Sunday, January 11 2009

What version of iPhoto do you have? Older versions of iPhtoto (less than iPhoto '06 I think) don't work with the option key trick but there are other ways around it.

--chrisb

Moving Your iPhoto Library to an External Drive
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, January 13 2009

ok, i really like this explanation but a few questions before i do this...

-will the pictures now in the hard drive work fine in iphoto, meaning.. Will i be able to see events, people just like in iphoto (when the picts are in the mac)?
-whenever i connect to my digital camera and import my pictures to the mac, will i be able to see it in iphoto? or do i have to import them to the Ext. hard drive?
-the pictures now in the ext. hard drive will they be backed up by time machine? about the pictures that i have now before transferring to an ext. hard drive; after i transfer and delete them, if something happens to the ext. hard drive later on, will i be able to recover them with Time Machine?

Thanks for all your help

Moving Your iPhoto Library to an External Drive
Authored by: chrisb on Tuesday, January 13 2009

well, let's see...


-will the pictures now in the hard drive work fine in iphoto, meaning.. Will i be able to see events, people just like in iphoto (when the picts are in the mac)?

-whenever i connect to my digital camera and import my pictures to the mac, will i be able to see it in iphoto? or do i have to import them to the Ext. hard drive?

If you move your iPhoto Library to the ext hard drive, iPhoto will function just as it did before. Importing, Events, etc all work the same.

-the pictures now in the ext. hard drive will they be backed up by time machine? about the pictures that i have now before transferring to an ext. hard drive; after i transfer and delete them, if something happens to the ext. hard drive later on, will i be able to recover them with Time Machine?

Time Machine doesn't back up your external HD, only the internal one. You will need some other method to back up the external HD.

Moving Your iPhoto Library to an External Drive
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, November 19 2010

IRT Time Machine and External Drives:

Time Machine WILL back up your external drives. However, when your external drive is connected, it is defaulted to the Exclude list. If you would like to back up your external drive, you need to remove it from that list. But otherwise, yes, Time Machine will back up external hard drives.

Moving Your iPhoto Library to an External Drive
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, January 13 2009

again thank you for the post, I'm really looking for a solution to the 5000+ pictures I have in different ext. hard drives plus another 2000+ in my pc. I want to put them all in a 1 tb hard drive i bought, and be able to use iphoto to keep them organized, I love events and the new feature faces that they have in iphoto 09. I prefer to have them organized like that instead of many folders. thanks for the help you can give me.
My post with my questions was the one before this one.

Pdmt-Brooklyn, NY

Moving Your iPhoto Library to an External Drive
Authored by: chrisb on Tuesday, January 13 2009

again thank you for the post, I'm really looking for a solution to the 5000+ pictures I have in different ext. hard drives plus another 2000+ in my pc. I want to put them all in a 1 tb hard drive i bought, and be able to use iphoto to keep them organized, I love events and the new feature faces that they have in iphoto 09. I prefer to have them organized like that instead of many folders. thanks for the help you can give me.

I am assuming here that the 2000+ pictures are already in an iPhoto Library. You can move them to the 1TB hard drive using the instructions above. As for the other 5000+ you can import them into iPhoto afterwards. If you drag and drop a folder of photos onto the iPhoto icon on the Dock, they will be imported and become a new Event.

The other piece of advice I have is to not delete any of your photos until you are sure that they have imported properly into iPhoto.

Moving Your iPhoto Library to an External Drive
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, January 27 2009

hi, i just bought a hard drive, and connected it to my macbook. it set it up to be the backup/time machine. it's only using 19-25gb, i have plenty left (1Tb), can i still use this backup drive now as a ext. hard drive to hold my pictures for iphoto or should i use something smaller as backup, and the one i have now as the one carrying the pictures and files?

Moving Your iPhoto Library to an External Drive
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, January 27 2009

about the last reply i left:
hi, i just bought a hard drive, and connected it to my macbook. it set it up to be the backup/time machine. it's only using 19-25gb, i have plenty left (1Tb), can i still use this backup drive now as a ext. hard drive to hold my pictures for iphoto or should i use something smaller as backup, and the one i have now as the one carrying the pictures and files?

When i connect my hard drive (LAcie) there is an orange hard drive on the left panel in the finder, that one is the exchange 30gb. this is a partition on the drive that is supposed to exchange files with pc. and then there is a blue Lacie logo under the orange hard drive in the finder, this is for the rest of the external hard drive i have. i can copy to this right? even though it doesn't show a orange hard drive logo?

Moving Your iPhoto Library to an External Drive
Authored by: chrisb on Tuesday, January 27 2009

Hi-

I wouldn't try using your Time Machine hard drive for data. TM requires a dedicated drive and something is liable to get messed up down the line (and you don't want to mess with your backups!!)

What you can do is divide the 1TB hard drive into 2 partitions-- one smaller one for TM and a larger one for your photos, etc. Check out Disk Utility in your Applications/Utilities folder.

--chrisb

Moving Your iPhoto Library to an External Drive
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, September 18 2012

Hi. Hoping you still monitor this post from two years ago. I have an external harddrive (ITB) for my Mac Book Pro. I have used it for TM backup. Now I am moving my iMovies and IPhoto libraries onto it because they are getting you large. You suggested partitioning the external hd. I see how to do that, but was wondering if you could provide a few more steps so I don't make a mistake. I understand I need one partition for TM and one for my files. How much space do you recommend for year. Also, if I then partition, will TM be able to backup the other partition? Thank you in advance.
JFox

Moving Your iPhoto Library to an External Drive
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, January 29 2009

Hi! I have gone through all of the steps you suggested and they have all worked save that last one. When I tell my external hardrive to open iphoto, it is not working. There are a series of folders, each with a different year, and within those folders, others that i assume represent different months of that year. Is that maybe the problem?

Moving Your iPhoto Library to an External Drive
Authored by: chrisb on Thursday, January 29 2009

It sounds like you might be using an old version of iPhoto. I know that this tip works for iPhoto '06 and '08. Not sure about earlier versions.

Try this: close iPhoto and then rename your original iPhoto Library to iPhoto Library.old. Reopen iPhoto. I think if it can't find the Library then it will ask where to look.

--Chris


Moving Your iPhoto Library to an External Drive
Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, March 07 2009

I have just moved my iPhoto library to my external, but became nervous after reading everyone's comments on this topic about iTunes and iMovie not being able to locate it. THAT is one question-- "how do I ensure the other apps find iPhoto on the external?". My next question is about backing up to MobileMe. I use TimeMachine to back up to the external. Can I also back up to MobileMe? How is backing up different than "moving" the iPhoto library? Won't it all be rather confusing to iPhoto (and me?)

Moving Your iPhoto Library to an External Drive
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, March 19 2009

Hi,

I use Iphoto '08. I moved my Iphoto library to my external Iomega 120 GB hdd. Whenever I have my Iomega connected to my MB pro with Iphoto running it synchronises. I want to keep 12 months of photo's on my MB. These 12 months and all the other/older photo's must stay on my Iomega. But when I delete photo's on my MB the same photo's on my Iomega are gone.
Is there a way to have all the photo's on the external and the last 12 months on my MB??

Thanks,

Hans

Moving Your iPhoto Library to an External Drive
Authored by: chrisb on Thursday, March 19 2009
I'm not sure what you mean when you say that the Iomega synchronizes with the internal hard drive. Is that some Iomega software that is running to do an automatic backup? If that is the case, then the copy of the iPhoto Library on the Iomega is a duplicate of the one on your internal hard drive which would explain why photos are getting deleted in both places.

If you want to have two separate libraries like you are talking about, you will have to get rid of this synching. Then check out iPhoto Library Manager

http://www.fatcatsoftware.com/iplm/

which will allow you to break up your library into old and new photos.

--chrisb

Moving Your iPhoto Library to an External Drive
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, March 20 2009

Chris,

I mean that every change made on my internal drive is causing the external drive to do the same. Deleted photo's on my internal are also deleted on my external drive. Some sort of syncing must take place.
I switched from pc to mac a few months ago. So a lot to find out.

I am gonna work with iPhoto Library Manager this weekend. You will get feedback.

Many thanks,

hans

Moving Your iPhoto Library to an External Drive
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, May 29 2009

We've followed your instructions for backing up the iPhoto library to an external hard drive and can access that library as you instructed. We intend to erase the files from the computer's hard drive to free up space (after making a back-up on DVD). My question is what happens as we add new photos to the iPhoto library still on the internal hard drive and then go to to back those up to the external hard drive by backing up the iPhoto library? Will the new photo files be transferred and added to the iPhoto library in the external hard drive without erasing any of the previously backed-up photos in the library?

Moving Your iPhoto Library to an External Drive
Authored by: chrisb on Friday, May 29 2009

No, it doesn't work that way. What most people do is leave the iPhoto Library on the external drive as their default Library and new imported photos will import to that Library on the external drive.

If you import new photos to your internal drive, you are essentially creating another iPhoto Library and will have two to manage. Then if you move that one to the external drive you will have three to manage. Until you have a bit mess on your hands.

--chrisb

Moving Your iPhoto Library to an External Drive
Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, June 07 2009

I moved my iphoto library to an external hard drive which included photos and video clips from my camera. My internal hard drive died shortly after and when I eventually retrieved my photos from my external hard drive and reimported them, every thing went well, except my video clips. They are all just pictures now. Is there any way of retrieving them from the hard drive or did I back those up incorrectly? Many thanks.

Moving Your iPhoto Library to an External Drive
Authored by: chrisb on Sunday, June 07 2009

Hi--

I don't know of any way that movies can be turned into just pictures, so I am guessing that the movies are still there, you just aren't seeing them.

From the Finder, choose File / Find... from the Menu Bar. Where it says Search: choose your external hard drive. Where it says Kind is, choose "Movies". This will pull up all of the movie files on your external hard drive.

Hopefully your missing movies will show up there.

-chrisb


Moving Your iPhoto Library to an External Drive
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, June 09 2009

Hi,
I moved my library to 2 external drives just to be safe - my question is, I have a Macbook. If I take it somewhere (like to a relatives house for a holiday) is it possible to move some of my photos back to the internal drive that I want to show people?

I haven't deleted anything yet off the internal drive (want to make sure everything works right) but i have to because I am completely out of room (so also need to leave room for things I may want to move back)

Thanks for this,
Allison

Moving Your iPhoto Library to an External Drive
Authored by: chrisb on Tuesday, June 09 2009
Hi Allison--

What you need to split and merge iPhoto Libraries is a a program called iPhoto Library Manager.

http://www.fatcatsoftware.com/iplm/

It costs $US20 but will let you do what you are trying to do.

--chrisb
Moving Your iPhoto Library to an External Drive
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, December 01 2009

Hi there- I have a similar desire to do this. I want to be sure I am reading this correctly- so once I delete my pictures off my macbook and have them on my ext HD, I can't pull certain folders or pictures off the HD onto my computer and then move them back?

Moving Your iPhoto Library to an External Drive
Authored by: chrisb on Tuesday, December 01 2009
Hi--

You can move pictures back and forth between iPhoto Libraries but it isn't as simple as moving files or folders because if you do that you will confuse iPhoto's database.

There is a program called iPhoto Library Manager that will let you move photos between libraries.

http://www.fatcatsoftware.com/iplm/

--chrisb
Moving Your iPhoto Library to an External Drive
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, October 18 2011

Hey Chris -

I have a macbook pro, iPhoto '08 and a Lacie external. I followed all the directions above to transfer a library over to the external drive. When I try to delete files from that same (but renamed) library on my internal drive to free space, it also deletes them from the external drive. How do I prevent that from happening?
Do I need that library manager program in order to do that?
Thanks -

Problems telling iphoto where you have moved the library
Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, June 27 2009

This is a fantastic step by step guide - however part is not working for me.

When I get to Step 2 in paragraph 2, 'Click the Choose Library' - I click on Choose library however it will not let me open the library I have just copied onto the external hard drive. I can select the library (and photos open as jpgs- so i know i have copied the library correctly) but the open button simply will not work.

I have googled everything possible, yet nothing indicates to me what I have done wrong!

Your advice is very much appreciated!