Previous 1 2 3 Next 97 Replies Latest reply: Dec 17, 2014 1:57 PM by LarryHN
mauigumdoc Level 1 (0 points)

Is it possible to move the iPhoto library to an external hard drive?

iMac, Mac OS X (10.1.x)
  • Terence Devlin Level 10 (136,705 points)

    Yes. 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.



    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.






  • oremagcrib Level 1 (0 points)

    After doing this setup you mention, how do you keep your new imports going to the external drive and not the Mac?


    We import files via the SD card reader or USB.  It seems like all the new imports since the external drive setup are NOT on the external drive but on the Mac.


    Did we do something wrong?

    Can we just run the same process you mention?  Will this overwrite the existing library or duplicate it?


    Thanks for your help.  It is greatly appreciated.

  • Old Toad Level 10 (133,365 points)

    Once you choose the library on the EHD when using the Option key, that library will be the default library whenever iPhoto is opened.  And, if you delete the library from your boot drive after making sure the EHD library is good, you won't every have to worry about where the new imports go as there will only be one library.



  • LarryHN Level 9 (74,535 points)

    If you switched to the library on the external drive as described then all imports go there as noted in step 3. Why do you think that new imports are going to the internal drive? What version of iPhoto do you have?


    as to redoing the process - if you did you would replace the iPhoto library on the external drive with the one on the internal drive - not clear on what you are asking


    Will this overwrite the existing library or duplicate it?

    dragging a file or folder will both duplicate it and overwrite the destination (after giving you a warning and request permission) - is is not one or the other but both



  • tayandcait Level 1 (0 points)

    I have recently transferred my iPhoto Library to my external hard drive (WD MyBook Live) and have some questions.  Since I have done this and used the "alt + option" to select it as my default library I have been having some issues.  When using the library on the external drive as my default drive it takes a very long time to load compared to when it was on my macbook's hard drive. Is this normal?  Also, once it does load the thumbnails are only viewable when scrolling quickly through the photos and they are very blurry.  However, if I were to select one randomly (because of this problem I have no way of knowing which one I'm selecting) it brings it up in the edit view and it is a crystal clear picture.


    Is there a way to fix these issues?  I'd love to be able to use the iPhoto Library off the external drive to free up space on my macbook but if it isn't going to work as streamlined as it would on my macbook hard drive.  I have not yet deleted the original iPhoto Library from my macbook because I did not want to do so until I knew the new iPhoto library on the external drive was working properly.  Does this make a difference?


    Please help!

  • Old Toad Level 10 (133,365 points)

    How is the external HD formatted?  It should be Mac OS X Extended (journaled).  If it's formatted FAT then that's probably the problem. Do not delete the library from your boot drive until the external library is working to your satisfaction.


    Assuming the hard drive is formatted correctly try the following:  apply the three fixes in order as necessary.


    Fix #1


    1 - delete the iPhoto preference file,, that resides in your HD/User/Home/()/ Library/Preferences folder.

    2 - delete iPhoto's cache file, Cache.db, that is located in your HD/User/Home()/Library/ Caches/ folder. 

    3 - launch iPhoto and try again.


    NOTE: If you're moved your library from its default location in your Home/Pictures folder you will have to point iPhoto to its new location when you next open iPhoto by holding down the Option key when launching iPhoto.  You'll also have to reset the iPhoto's various preferences.


    Fix #2


    Launch iPhoto with the Command+Option keys held down and rebuild the library.



    Select the options identified in the screenshot


    Fix #3


    Using iPhoto Library Manager  to Rebuild Your iPhoto Library


      1. Download iPhoto Library Manager and launch.
      2. Click on the Add Library button, navigate to your Home/Pictures folder and select your iPhoto Library folder.
      3. Now that the library is listed in the left hand pane of iPLM, click on your library and go to the File ➙ Rebuild Library menu option
      4. In the next  window name the new library and select the location you want it to be placed.
      5. Click on the Create button.


    Note: This creates a new library based on the LIbraryData.xml file in the library and will recover Events, Albums, keywords, titles and comments but not books, calendars or slideshows. The original library will be left untouched for further attempts at fixing the problem or in case the rebuilt library is not satisfactory.

  • LarryHN Level 9 (74,535 points)

    See my answer in the other thread you started - iPhoto does not operate well with the library accessed via a wireless connection




  • tayandcait Level 1 (0 points)

    I don't know how it is formatted.  How would i find that out?  It is a Mac compatible drive that functions with time machine.

  • Old Toad Level 10 (133,365 points)

    Click on the HD once and type Command+i.  Also, if you are wireless as Larry mentioned then connect it with a FW or USB cable directly to the Mac and see if the problem goes away. If you are running wirelessly that's an invitation for trouble.

  • Janice Straight Level 1 (5 points)

    Not trying to sound stupid but I am not sure about how formatting plays into the MyBookLive I am using.


    My MyBookLive is formatted as a Mac OS Extended. Does it have to be Journaled to work with iphoto? It came from the manufacter as OS Extended.


    Thanks so much,



  • Old Toad Level 10 (133,365 points)

    Many HDs come formatted for PCs and tayancait just wanted you to check before using.  I believe you can turn on journaling after the fact which is preferred as it protects the integrity of the file systems: Mac OS X: About file system journaling

  • congabobby Level 1 (0 points)

    I'm using a Western Digital My Book and I checked. It is formated FAT 32. How do I format it for MAC OS?

  • Old Toad Level 10 (133,365 points)

    Open Disk Utility, select the My Book and click on the Format button.  From there you select OS X Extended (journaled) an go from there.

  • Hardcyber Level 1 (0 points)

    Thanks for the answer.


    once this has been done, how can I make sure I back the content of the external HDD on my time capsule?


    I want to make sure I have it also there as I do not want to risk losing everything in case the HDD fails.



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