6 Replies Latest reply: Jul 22, 2010 3:38 PM by Klaus1
arclid Level 1 (0 points)
I need to clear some space on my hard drive so am wanting to move my photo files onto a portable hard drive. With itunes you can set it to access the files from a portable hard drive, but leave a thumbnail in the itunes library. can this be done with iphoto, if so how? ta.

macbook pro 15", Mac OS X (10.6.4)
  • Klaus1 Level 8 (47,745 points)
    You can move your iPhoto Library to an external disk:

    1. Quit iPhoto

    2. Copy (drag) the iPhoto Library Folder as an entity from your Pictures Folder to the External Disk.

    3. Hold down the option (or alt) key while launching iPhoto. From the resulting menu select 'Choose Library' and navigate to the new location. From that point on this will be the default location of your library.

    4. Test the library and when you're sure all is well, trash the one on your internal HD to free up space.
  • Terence Devlin Level 10 (137,895 points)
    Yes this can be done - more or less - with iPhoto but I strongly urge you to think carefully before you do.

    You will need to convert your Library to a +Referenced Library+ to do this. A Referenced Library is when the files are stored away from the Library proper. However, iPhoto is not very reliable in this scenario, especially when the Library is on one disk and the actual files are on another.

    *How to do it:*

    Simply go to iPhoto Menu -> Preferences -> Advanced and uncheck 'Copy Files to the iPhoto Library on Import'.

    *What Happens:*

    Now iPhoto will not copy the files, but rather simply reference them on your HD. To do this it will create an alias in the Originals Folder that points to your file. It will still create a thumbnail and, if you modify the pics, a Modified version within the iPhoto Library Folder.

    *Some things to consider:*

    1. Importing and deleting pics are more complex procedures. You have to to put the files where they will be stored before importing them. When you delete them you'll need to remove the files from the HD yourself.

    2. You cannot move or rename the files on your system or iPhoto will lose track of them on systems prior to 10.5 and iPhoto 08. Even with the later versions issues can still arise if you move the referenced files to new volumes or between volumes.

    3. Most importantly, migrating to a new disk or computer can be much more complex.

    4. Because iPhoto has no tools for managing Referenced Files, if, for some reason, the path to the photos changes then you could find yourself resolving aliases for +each photo in the Library+ one by one.

    My own opinion:

    I've yet to see a good reason to run iPhoto in referenced mode unless you're using two photo organiser

    Some other comments: There is no way to convert an existing Managed Library to a Referenced one. You will need to either manually make an alias for every photo in your Library or start over with a new one.

    Aperture is very capable in this scenario and I have no hesitation is recommending it as an Alternative to iPhoto for the set up you want. However, it's a lot more expensive and has a significant learning curve.

    Another way to work: Klaus, above, has kindly cut and paste one of my stock answers verbatim with instructions on how to move the Library to an external disk. This will not leave your thumbnails on the internal drive, of course. You can, however, buy a portable external disk. I have a couple about the size of a cigarette packet. It might be a reasonable compromise.

    The comparison with iTunes doesn't really work as iTunes is a much more simple database, no editing, no versions to track the relationship between and so on.


  • arclid Level 1 (0 points)
    so, by using aperture3, will this give me the opportunity to keep thumbnails on my hard drive whilst storing the files on a separate portable hard drive, thanks for the feed back
  • Klaus1 Level 8 (47,745 points)
    Klaus, above, has kindly cut and paste one of my stock answers verbatim with instructions on how to move the Library to an external disk.

    Is that where I got it?!

    Sorry Terence, no plagiarism intended, and in future I will of course credit you with the advice.
  • Terence Devlin Level 10 (137,895 points)
    I thought you were saving me typing


  • Klaus1 Level 8 (47,745 points)
    No, in that case my agency invoice would have auto-transmitted.