9 Replies Latest reply: Jul 31, 2010 8:21 AM by Terence Devlin
plarkin Level 2 (180 points)
I suspect my iPhoto Libary is damaged or corrupted. I know that to rebuild the library, I hold the Command and Option keys down while launching iPhoto. My question is, which options do I select?

P.S. I'm probably going to upgrade from iLife '08 to iLife '09 but I want to make sure my iPhoto library is intact before doing so. I don't want to complicate matters by trying to convert a damaged iPhoto library.

Mac Mini 1.83 GHz 2 GB SuperDrive, Mac OS X (10.6.4), iPad 64GB 3G, iPod Touch 32GB 2nd Gen
  • LarryHN Level 9 (76,941 points)
    I would backup your library up and then do each option in order testing between

    Why do you suspect your iPhoto library is damaged?

    You also might consider using iPhoto Library Manager - http://www.fatcatsoftware.com/iplm/ - to rebuild - it creates a totally new library so you still have the original if you are not happy with the results

  • Old Toad Level 10 (135,388 points)
    I would start with options #3 and #5.

    Click to view full size

    They are the quickest to perform and #3 might be the solution. Then move on to the others as Larry suggested.


    TIP: For insurance against the iPhoto database corruption that many users have experienced I recommend making a backup copy of the Library6.iPhoto (iPhoto.Library for iPhoto 5 and earlier versions) database file and keep it current. If problems crop up where iPhoto suddenly can't see any photos or thinks there are no photos in the library, replacing the working Library6.iPhoto file with the backup will often get the library back. By keeping it current I mean backup after each import and/or any serious editing or work on books, slideshows, calendars, cards, etc. That insures that if a problem pops up and you do need to replace the database file, you'll retain all those efforts. It doesn't take long to make the backup and it's good insurance.

    I've created an Automator workflow application (requires Tiger or later), iPhoto dB File Backup, that will copy the selected Library6.iPhoto file from your iPhoto Library folder to the Pictures folder, replacing any previous version of it. There are versions that are compatible with iPhoto 5, 6, 7 and 8 libraries and Tiger and Leopard. Just put the application in the Dock and click on it whenever you want to backup the dB file. iPhoto does not have to be closed to run the application, just idle. You can download it at Toad's Cellar. Be sure to read the Read Me pdf file.

    NOTE: The new rebuild option in iPhoto 09 (v. 8.0.2), Rebuild the iPhoto Library Database from automatic backup" makes this tip obsolete.
  • plarkin Level 2 (180 points)
    LarryHN wrote:

    Why do you suspect your iPhoto library is damaged?

    I created an album the other day, pulling photos from other albums. A number of the photos I attempted to access were missing, i.e., iPhoto couldn't find them. I could see the thumbnails but when I clicked on one I got the exclamation point instead of the larger image. This is a managed library, not a referenced one, so all of the images should be in the library. That is why I suspect that the file is damaged.

    Thanks for your suggestions, guys. I'll give it a try tonight when I get home.
  • plarkin Level 2 (180 points)
    I rebuilt my library, although the problem persists. As I was going through the process, I got a number of warnings that files could not be found. Each time I was given the option to cancel, find the photo or click OK. Since OK apparently did nothing and I no longer have the original files, I had to click cancel every time. So when all was said and done, it appears I'm right back where I started.

    I decided to view the package contents of my library (I read about doing that in another thread). I was careful not to change anything, but I did discover that files were indeed missing. I checked both the "Original" and "Modified" folder structures. The files were either not there at all or there was only an alias to the file. And, as I said, I no longer have the original files. They were deleted after I built my iPhoto libary and unfortunately I did not make a backup.

    What I don't understand is that I have always had this setup as a managed library, so the files should have been copied into it. As far as I know, this was true even when I originally created the library in iPhoto '06 (I later upgraded to iPhoto '08). But to be honest with you, I'm not sure at what point these files went missing. Obviously they were there at some point, since aliases were created along with thumbnails.

    Which leads me to my next question--is it possible to create image files from the thumbnails? I realize they would be low-res versions, but it would be better than nothing. Failing that, how would I remove the thumbnails and aliases from the iPhoto library? If I don't have the images, there's no point in having them in the library. And is there an easier way to determine which of my 8000+ photos are actually missing? Or do I have to do another rebuild and note each warning that comes up?

    Thanks for your help.
  • MadisonP Level 5 (4,765 points)
    I'm not sure at what point these files went missing. Obviously they were there at some point, since aliases were created along with thumbnails.

    Sounds like at some point someone / something removed the original images from the Library. Commonly happens because people use the File > Find or "All Images" option to strip images out of the Library.
    Have you tried searching the computer for them? http://support.apple.com/kb/TS1995
    is it possible to create image files from the thumbnails?

    You can copy and paste the thumbnails into a folder from the "Data" folder within the iPhoto Library package (I won't give you the lecture about being careful in here as it sounds like you are well informed.) Once you have them in the folder you can then drag that folder to the iPhoto icon in the dock which will then import them as a new image.

    To my knowledge there is no easy way to know which images are missing their original (although if there is I would love to know). I would suggest you take it on case by case basis. Discover the missing picture, go to it's thumbnail and re-import it, then delete the original picture (thus getting rid of the reference to the missing picture).

    Hope that helps.

    ~ Mr. Madison

    Do you have a backup?
    Mac OS X v10.5, v10.6: How to back up and restore your files
  • Old Toad Level 10 (135,388 points)
    Could you have at some time been running the library as a "referenced" library? That might account for the alias files and the fact that the original files are missing.

    Click to view full size

    If the library was a referenced and you imported from a folder on the hard drive the library would lose the link to those original files if you moved or deleted that folder at some later time. If you imported from a camera the problem would show up almost immediately once you disconnected the camera.
  • plarkin Level 2 (180 points)
    To my knowledge, it's always been a managed library. Mind you, I first created this three years ago when I got my Mac Mini (with iLife '06) so anything is possible. I did find some of the original photos on a DVD so at least I'll be able to partially recover my library. Guess I'll have to resort to using the thumbnail images for the rest.

    Thanks again for your help.
  • Thujaan Level 1 (0 points)
    hi, does someone know how to open that window? How to get in the rebuild library screen/
  • Terence Devlin Level 10 (137,910 points)
    Hold down the *command and option (or alt) keys* while launching iPhoto.