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david braun Level 4 Level 4 (2,325 points)



Can I share the iPhoto-Libraries I and my wife each have on our shared iMac?

(That is, obviously, I have many Pictures my wife hasn't, and she has many pictures I haven't in my library. Instead of duplicating them into the other's iPhoto-Library, we'd like to just share them...)




iMac, Mac OS X (10.7.3)
  • Terence Devlin Level 10 Level 10 (135,020 points)

    For iPhoto 09 (version 8.0.2) and later:



    What you mean by 'share'.



    If you want the other user to be able to see the pics, but not add to, change or alter your library, then enable Sharing in your iPhoto (Preferences -> Sharing), leave iPhoto running and use Fast User Switching to open the other account. In that account, enable 'Look For Shared Libraries'. Your Library will appear in the other source pane.



    Any user can drag a pic from the Shared Library to their own in the iPhoto Window.



    Remember iPhoto must be running in both accounts for this to work.



    If you want the other user to have the same access to the library as you: to be able to add, edit, organise, keyword etc.



    Quit iPhoto in both accounts. Move the Library to the Users / Shared Folder



    (You can also use an external HD set to ignore permissions, a Disk Image or even partition your Hard Disk.)



    In each account in turn: Double click on the Library to open it. (You may be asked to repair the Library Permissions.) From that point on, this will be the default library location. Both accounts will have full access to the library, in fact, both accounts will 'own' it.



    However, there is a catch with this system and it is a significant one. iPhoto is not a multi-user app., it does not have the code to negotiate two users simultaneously writing to the database, and trying will cause db corruption. So only one user at a time, and back up, back up back up.

  • david braun Level 4 Level 4 (2,325 points)

    Hello Terence!


    Thanks very much!


    (This in fact solved my question, sorry for misclicking )


    The second option is what I was looking for, but this leaves me with the next question:


    Of course, we already exchanged a multitude of photos. By sharing one library, we'd either have to manually sort out doublettes after merging our accounts, or manually add all photos that aren't yet in the library-to-be-shared, or is there a tool which would assist in doing the merger?


    Thanks again in advance


  • Terence Devlin Level 10 Level 10 (135,020 points)

    The only way to merge libraries is with the paid ($20) version of  iPhoto Library Manager


    This can be set to avoid duplicates.






  • camonty83 Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)



    Just saw your advice.


    I have also managed to do all steps, with a  sparseimage ( permissions ignored).  Something strange happens though - I need to open the sparseimage from User 1, swith to User 2 and then eveyrthing works fine in User 2. If I open the sparseimage in User 2 ( it opens), but the Iphoto Library appears locked. It is indeed closed in User 1 account. ANy suggestions?

  • Terence Devlin Level 10 Level 10 (135,020 points)

    That's means the Disk Image is owned by User 1. Not sure what to do about that one. As it's a permissions isuse  I would ask for help on the forum for whatever version of the OS you have.






  • takenpictures Level 1 Level 1 (25 points)

    If anyone is still interested in doing this you should look at this support page on the Apple website:


    My wife and I have been sharing an iPhoto library via this method for over two years and it works fine. It even works syncing to both of our iPhones through iTunes. Also now it works with Photo Stream importing both streams in to teh same events distinguished by month.

  • J.Patrick Level 1 Level 1 (45 points)

    Which method did you use? The separte Hard Drive or Disk Image method?

  • takenpictures Level 1 Level 1 (25 points)

    I partitioned 100Gb of my internal hard drive. If you do that you must set the drive as shared, make sure the ignore permissions box is clicked and give the "everyone" user read and write access to the iPhoto library. Also selecting the 'add permissions to enclosed files options. Otherwise photos already in the library will not be viewable, if you are moving a pre-existing library that is.

  • scottando Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    Do you need to locate the library on an external drive or disk image, or could you just put the library in the Users\shared folder and set read / write for everyone?

  • Terence Devlin Level 10 Level 10 (135,020 points)

    You can do either. But folks regularly report permissions issues when the Library is in the Users/Shared folder.


    BTW you don't use the Finder to set permissions on an iPhoto Library. Hold down the command and option (or alt) keys while launching iPhoto. You'll see the option to check and repair Library permissions.

  • takenpictures Level 1 Level 1 (25 points)

    You need to use a external drive or disk image as you need to be able to check the 'ignore ownership of this drive' option for the drive. You can't do this with the main Macintosh HD drive.


    If you do it through the shared folder it may seem like it works at first, but you will gradually start getting permissions errors pretty quickly once multiple users start importing.


    Basically I would follow the steps on the Apple support link, to the letter. I rebuilt my iPhoto library and re-partitioned my disk image for the library recently, without re-reading the info in the link and I missed the 'ignore ownership' option and had A LOT of problems.

  • Lukemacdonald Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    You don't need new software, and you don't need to use an external drive or disk image.


    Here is a simple solution that allows you to share an iPhoto library between multiple user accounts that does not require moving your library to an external drive or disk image.  All you need to do is share your Pictures folder with multiple users.


    Using this method iPhoto will run as fast for each user as it would if it was not shared.  I didn't want to put my library on an external drive or disk image because, in addition to using Time Machine for a local external drive, I pay for an online backup service in case of fire or theft, and that service will not backup an external drive or disk image. 




    1) Start with a single library owned by one User Account who has administrator privileges.


    2) Create a new user group called photoshare:

    • System Preferences > Users & Groups
    • Unlock if locked (lower left lock icon)
    • Hit the plus sign (lower left) and in diaglogue box under New Account choose Group from the drop down menu
    • Full Name: photoshare
    • Add users with check boxes as desired
    • Right click on the group photoshare in the left plane, confirm that "photoshare" appears in the box "Group name."  Otherwise the next steps won't work.

    3) Open the terminal application.  Type these commands in successively; each may take a few minutes to execute.

    4) close iPhoto if open. 5) Switch to another user account 6) close iPhoto if open, and reopen iPhoto while holding down the option key. 7) A dialogue box will appear prompting you to choose the library.  You should see the shared library file in the list of choices for libraries. You will probably see at least one other option called "iPhoto Library."  Examine the path structure in the bottom of the dialogue box to determine which library you want to share. 8) repeat steps 4 through 7 for each user. 9) Run some tests - add or delete photos while using one account, see if you can find them in another account. I expect you can do something similar for iTunes and iMovie. Known Limitation:

    • Only one user can be using the iPhoto library at one time

    Suspected Limitation:

    • PhotoStream syncs with the shared library using one AppleId and one computer User Account, and the photos appear for all users.  But, I suspect a second User Account could not  use a second Apple ID to sync the same library with photostream. I haven't tested this.  


    Hope this helps!



  • Terence Devlin Level 10 Level 10 (135,020 points)

    You need to learn aout the Users/Shared folder -  that saves steps 1 thru 5. -  and you also need to learn that sharing the Pictures Folder does not prevent permissions issues in the iPhoto Library.

  • jh5684 Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    My wife and I have used the Users/Shared folder for several years now without trouble, however a recent camera download left some permissions errors for her.  When I repair permissions on her user account they affect permissions on mine.  When I repaur them on mine, they affect them on hers; same pictures, approx 20% of the recent batch.  I've repaired and rebuilt several times.


    I suspect this might be some of the permissions issues you speak of, and I don't see on these boards where anyone has successfully navigated these without doing the external drive or disk partition option. 


    If I do the disk partition option and add the dick image to the login items list, will we need to logout each time or will the Fast User Switching feature still work?


    Do you know if either option (external hd or disk image) works the same with apple tv, etc?  Thanks in advance.

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