Change the iPhoto Library Location

A robust and feature filled application, iPhoto is a great way to organize your picture library. iPhoto includes Events, Places and Faces, which can arrange photos by date, geo-location and facial recognition software respectively. You’re also able to create slideshows, photo books and albums.

With today’s HD camcorders and high megapixel cameras, storing all your photos on the computer can take up a large portion of the hard drive. When your iPhoto Library becomes to large to stay on your internal hard drive, it’s time to move it to an external or network drive.

First you must locate the iPhoto Library file, which should be located in your Pictures folder. Open a new Finder window by clicking on its logo in the dock.

Finder Icon

Click on the Pictures folder in the left-hand sidebar. If you don’t see the Pictures folder here, you may need to select your Home folder first and then Pictures.

Home Pictures Folder

Inside the Pictures folder, click on the iPhoto folder. Here you will see the iPhoto Library file.

iPhoto Folder

iPhoto Library File

Control + click on the iPhoto folder and select copy iPhoto. If you have chosen where to move the Library folder, connect that external hard drive or other storage peripheral now.

Copy iPhoto

The external or other drive will appear in the Finder window in the left-hand column. Select it and Control + click in the first column of folders. Select Paste “iPhoto” from the contextual menu. This copying process may take a few minutes depending on the size of your iPhoto library. The iPhoto folder will now appear on your external drive.

External Drive

Close the Finder windows and locate the iPhoto application in your dock or Applications folder. Important: hold down the Option key on the keyboard while clicking on iPhoto to open it.

iPhoto Logo

A pop-up window will appear asking you to Choose Photo Library. Click Choose Library…

Choose Photo Library

The browser window will appear. Click on the external hard drive in the left-hand column, choose iPhoto and then click on the iPhoto Library file.

Choose iPhoto Folder

iPhoto will now store all of your current pictures on the external hard drive. Any future photos you import or copy into iPhoto will be stored in the new location on the external hard drive.

Comments [4]

  1. Thanks for posting this – very helpful. Wish it was more intuitive to do this kind of stuff with Mac, especially for those of us new to the fray.

  2. You're very welcome. Soon I'll write one concerning moving the iTunes Library as well!

  3. is there a way to do this with a Time Capsule over a network? If I directly connect the TC to make the iPhoto library change, will I be able to access it over my network with minimal delays? I'm out of room on my HD!

    BTW…my TC only shows up under "Shared", not Devices over my network.


  4. You seem to be very knowledgeable…how would one split the collection of iPhoto files (according to albums) such that older files are moved to an external hard drive (to free up hard disk space) and more recent files are kept on the internal hard disk? But all remain accessible via the same library

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