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Managing the size of IPhoto's database

830 Views 15 Replies Latest reply: Jan 26, 2013 11:23 AM by TW7891 RSS
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TW7891 Calculating status...
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Jan 24, 2013 10:22 AM

Has anyone split the iphoto database into a hierarchy, thereby segmenting storage requirements?  I tried to break it into four sections so I can keep this years and key photos on my laptop and the rest segmented into four different catagories.  I don't seem to be having much luck in that the original iphoto database is still over 130GB and I have over 12,000 pictures and growing.  I have Aperature too but It doesn't seem to help.  I purchased a product called iPhotoManager but it doesn't seem to reduce the size of the original IPhoto library.


I really don't want to carry around an external hard drive with me everywhere when the purpose of havng a laptop to me is being mobile and travelling light.


Any suggestions?



iPhoto '11, OS X Mountain Lion (10.8.2)
  • Gagas_Hair Calculating status...
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    Jan 24, 2013 10:24 AM (in response to TW7891)

    thats what i am doing, because I also have 12,000 photos, Im deleting all the photos I don't need or want, then I'm moving them into aperture; then I'm deleting them from iPhoto because Aperture is way better

  • Keith Barkley Level 5 Level 5 (5,140 points)
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    Jan 24, 2013 10:54 AM (in response to Gagas_Hair)

    If you are using the most recent Aperture, you do know that they share the same library structure, right? You can just open your iPhoto library in Aperture.

  • LarryHN Level 9 Level 9 (54,900 points)
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    Jan 24, 2013 11:32 AM (in response to TW7891)

    Not sure what you want


    In geal it is a mistake to have multiple iPhoto libraries - and it certainly does not save space - in fact it uses a bit more space - the size of the photos is the size of the photos no matter where they are stored and with multiple libraries yuo have multiple database files so you use a bit more


    iPhoto is good for 1,000,000 photos - I have over 50,000 in a single (well backed up) library - 12,000 is a small library toeay



  • Terence Devlin Level 10 Level 10 (121,745 points)
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    Jan 24, 2013 12:37 PM (in response to TW7891)

    Make sure the drive is formatted Mac OS Extended (Journaled)


    1. Quit iPhoto


    2. Copy the iPhoto Library from your Pictures Folder to the External Disk.


    Now you have two full versions of the Library.


    3. On the Internal library, trash the Events you don't want there


    Now you have a full copy of the Library on the External and a smaller subset on the Internal


    Some Notes:


    As a general rule: when deleting photos do them in batches of about 100 at a time. iPhoto can baulk at trashing large numbers at one go.


    You can choose which Library to open: Hold down the option (or alt) key key and launch iPhoto. From the resulting menu select 'Choose Library'


    You can keep the Library on the external updated with new imports using iPhoto Library Manager


    Even if IPhoto can handle 1,000,000 photos I would be terified if I got a corrupted database as I have experienced in the past where I have lost priceless pictures from Vacations in my past.


    1. A corrupted database won't lose Photos.


    2. The protection against corruption is a good, tested, up-to-date back up.

  • LarryHN Level 9 Level 9 (54,900 points)
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    Jan 24, 2013 12:39 PM (in response to TW7891)

    Then I would suggest two things -


    1) two libraries - one on your laptop with selected photos and one on an external drive which has everything on it and using iPhoto Library Manager - -  to move new photos to is as you accumbulate them on yoru LapTop


    2) two more external hard drives to backup up your files including your pjhotos - one to run Time Machine on any time you are connected and one for a different backup - I use Carbon Copy Cloner to clone a bootable clone daily - if you do not have good backups you will lose all of your files and photos sooner or later


    And as to organization - no one suggested taht you try to organize using events - that would be a bad mistake - you organize using albums, smart albums and folders since you can have 'catagories" of albums



  • LarryHN Level 9 Level 9 (54,900 points)
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    Jan 24, 2013 1:21 PM (in response to TW7891)

    Obviously nothing is impossible - but a corrupted library does not cause loss of photo - it may make accessing them difficult or even cause a user to have to start over with their original photos


    As as to RAID - be careful - the iPhoto library must alwys be on a volume formatted Mac OS extended (journaled) and placing it on a volume with any other format may cause the exact problems you want to avoid

    Albums, Smart albums and folders won't work for me for catagorization in the long term.

    not sure why  what do you need to do that you can not do with albums, smart albyms and folders?



  • Terence Devlin Level 10 Level 10 (121,745 points)
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    Jan 24, 2013 1:34 PM (in response to Terence Devlin)

    Note that I said a corrupted database won't lose photos. The confusion is because you seem to regard the words database and Library as somehow interchangeable, which seems odd to me. They're not. The database is one of the files that manages the Library, a part of it. The database contains no images whatever.






  • Terence Devlin Level 10 Level 10 (121,745 points)
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    Jan 25, 2013 1:23 PM (in response to TW7891)
    What I am learning and/or deducing is that pictures whether captured in RAW or JPG format are captured never to be released from the library they are imported to.



    File -> Export... ?



    It seems that when I delete them using the trash function they do not seem to be physically be removed from the library they only seem to be removed from an index/database.



    Not so. If you use a Managed Library the files are sent to the System Trash, and removed from the HD when that's emptied. If you use a Referenced Library then you have to manually remove them from your own filing system after removing them from iPhoto.


    IPhoto reflects that the the event is gone, but IPhoto manager still see's them in the library even though they were deleted previously. 


    Library Manager doesn't read the actual library. It read the xml file that used for Sharing with other apps. This should be updated, of course, when you delete the event from iPhoto and empty the trash. If that's not being read by Library Manager you need to contact the makers of that app for assistance.



    SInce I have only found one library file associated with a specific IPhoto library, I assumed that the database and the library were contained in the same file.



    That's not a file. It's a Package. It looks like a fie but it's really a folder. You can see inside simply by right-clicking on it and going 'Show Package Contents'. Standard Warning: Don't change anything in the iPhoto Library Folder via the Finder or any other application. iPhoto depends on the structure as well as the contents of this folder. Moving things, renaming things, deleting them or otherwise making changes will prevent iPhoto from working and could even cause you to damage or lose your photos.


    The Library is: all the original photos, plus the database files, caches and metadata files.


    If I take 10,000 pictures and only want to keep 70% or less of them, I sure don't want to waste limited disk storage retaining photo's I have trashed/deleted.


    As explained above, that doesn't arise.


    On the same hand If all pictures are captured at 15 megapixels or greater I may only want to keep a handful of high resolution pictures while the rest would be fine to keep at 8 megapixels.


    iPhoto is all about lossless processing. There is no way to scale a 15 mp image to an 8 mp one in iPhoto, as that's a lossy process. iPhoto is not that app for you if you don't want lossless processing.


    Given than iPhoto can manage 1,000,000 in any library, that it can have multiple libraries, that it can store libraries on external disks (as long as properly formatted) I don't believe that you have any worries about growing your library. We've seen reports on here from people with in excess of 300k images in an iPhoto Library. One user on the Aperture forum reports using it with 400k images.


    Not sure I know of a primer on the Library, so here goes:


    The apps use masses of virtualisation. Files are never edited. If you import an image to either it is stored and indexed. If you edit the image then your decisions are recorded in the database. If you view the image your decisions are overlaid on a view of the original image. To get edited photos out you need to export or use the sharing mechanism based around media browsers.


    The library has no user parts at all. If you opt to use iPhoto or Aperture then you do everything either with or via these apps - and everything you need to do can be done via them. You simply never access the images via the file browser.






  • LarryHN Level 9 Level 9 (54,900 points)
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    Jan 25, 2013 1:24 PM (in response to TW7891)

    What I am learning and/or deducing is that pictures whether captured in RAW or JPG format are captured never to be released from the library they are imported to.  

    Not at ll - you can at any time export the photo with kind - original and have an exact bit for bit copy of the photos as it was on your camera - you can also go into the iPhoto lbirary and copy photos from the masters folder and have them - or you can destroy your iPhoto library and more the masters folder anywhere you want and have all of your original photos - you are in total control and nothing is kept away from you, hiddeen or held hostage not to be released.


    It seems that when I delete them using the trash function they do not seem to be physically be removed from the library they only seem to be removed from an index/database.

    No that is not correct - when you delete a photo from an iPhoto event, empty th eiPhoto trash (needs to be done in small batched of 100 or so) and enpty the system trash the photo is totally gone form iPhoto and disk


    I believe that Aperture which is a professional application is much more suited to your needs than iPhoto - and not both can open and access the same database so you can use either interchangably with yoru photos - but for manageing your volume and needs I think you will find Aperture better suited - there is an aperture forum for questions about using it


    I am not aware of a technical document about the iPhoto/Aperture library structure and since direct access to it is not supported and is highly inadvisable and since the structure has very often changed in the past, while it may be interesting it is not needed nor useful - and if you knew every detail of it today it may change tonight and be totally different tomorrow.


    The baisc conceptual structure is three folders of photos, one containing very small thumbnails, one containing priviews of the photo with its current editing and one containing the originals along with several SQLite supprot files which contain records of the locations and links between these photo folders, a record of edits for doing  non-destructive editing, inforamtion on Keepsakes (books, calendars, etc) and other information to allow iPhoto and Aperature to access and manage the photos - there are no user servicable parts in the library is it is strongly recommened that you just stay out of it



  • steve626 Level 4 Level 4 (1,395 points)
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    Jan 25, 2013 2:20 PM (in response to TW7891)

    TW7891 wrote:


    It seems that when I delete them using the trash function they do not seem to be physically be removed from the library they only seem to be removed from an index/database.


    As others have pointed out, you need to be sure to empty the trash, and when you do, the photos themselves are truly gone. The size of the iPhoto Library does decrease. I shrunk my daughter's iPhoto Library from 200GB to 120GB by simply deleting all the RAW photos (at her request).  Depending on the version of iPhoto, you need to empty the iPhoto trash and also empty the trash of the computer itself.


    Ultimately, unless you invest in large and expensive laptop hard drives, it is often not practical to carry ALL of one's photos around on a laptop. Not saying it can't be done, but folks with large photo libraries usually find they need to use a desktop machine for serious photo activity, or they need to use external drives. External drives can come very small and compact nowadays -- WD makes a 2 TB external USB 3.0 drive that can hold a lot of photos and is very fast. It's tiny. 1 TB drives are even tinier. These should always be backed up separately in case the external drive fails or is lost/stolen one doesn't lose everything.


    Also as others indicated, the actual photos are simply stored in folders inside the iPhoto Library folder (package), just like you store other files on your computer disk inside folders. The database helps you access those photos in an organized way within iPhoto or Aperture, but in fact, even if you were to completely ruin or even delete the database, the photos are still physically there inside folders (within the Masters folder) that are neatly labeled with the year, month, date that they were taken. You could make a new iPhoto Library from what is inside that Masters folder fairly easily (although it might take a long time to recreate all your custom labels and albums, etc.). I think the only way you can actually LOSE those original photos is to actually delete them (putting them in trash and emptying trash, or using some ill-advised terminal unix command), or to have your computer disk file catalog get damaged in such a way that the files cannot be located on the disk (that's a disk file system problem, not an iPhoto problem), or to have your hard drive physically stop working.  Backing up the complete iPhoto Library folder (package) regularly on separate media protects against all that.

  • littlewillie Calculating status...
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    Jan 25, 2013 6:09 PM (in response to Terence Devlin)

    is your profile photo from Budapest?

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