How Do I Restore My Old IPhoto Library?

The catastrophe that occurred many years ago, still does not give rest to the originator of letters Tech 911 this week. She will explain all the details a little, but I am grateful for the complex backup settings . Anyway, let’s put on the world’s largest plaster in case of a potential technological disaster.

Lifehacker reader Caroline writes:

“Three or four years ago, my Macbook died, and since I was an avid Time Machine user, I was able to get pretty much everything I was interested in from my external hard drive besides my photos, because this tragedy coincided with a software update, and therefore, the updated photos could not access the old photo library that was stored on another drive. Losing all the photos of the first 27 years of my life still hurts me even years later, and I kept my external hard drive with everything on it in case I find some wonderful way to get this old iPhoto library (doubtful), but how can I prevent this in the future? “


First, I just wanted to say that I totally agree with your problem on this. I have folders and folders filled with disorganized photos that I swear one day I can organize – and maybe even back up something more than just my NAS. Anyway, if I lost them, I would feel terrible. And these are just ten years of memories that I care about. Losing 27-year-old photos, especially the first 27 years of life … that’s rude. I fully understand that this is something that still haunts you.

However, I’m glad you saved the hard drive because I think there is a solution to your problem. While you’ve probably searched the Internet many times for answers, I guess you haven’t stumbled upon the main trick of getting into this library and pulling out all the photos it contains.

As Glenn Fleischman of Macworld wrote in a 2017 article, plug in your external drive, find your photo library, and try the following steps:

1. Control-click an iPhoto library.

2. Select “Show Package Contents” from the context menu.

3. Drag (to move) or Option-drag (to copy) the Masters folder to your desktop or another drive.

4. Launch the latest version of iPhoto 9 and import this Masters folder. Or launch Photos and do the same.

While this trick will cost you the metadata of your photos, ideally you should be able to import them at full resolution, which is much more important. If I’m right, using a tool like this will make the conversion process easier, but you’ll end up with lower quality files. I think.

It is possible that doing the above trick may not actually show you the folder named “Masters”. This is fine. As being illuminated by this post on To Reddit , you can instead see something called “Originals.” Try using this instead.

We hope this will allow you to import all of your old photos into the latest version of the Photos app. If you have any problems, send me another email and we’ll try to walk you through the whole process together.

As for the next steps, I recommend syncing your photo galleries to the cloud. Whether you do this with Apple and iCloud – and pay for extra storage, I guess given how many photos you probably have – or a service like Google Photos , which is unlimited and free, is your choice. Upload everything to the cloud and you no longer have to worry about photos that you can no longer access (unless Google or Apple ever leaves, but I’m sure you will have enough warnings about this). You will have much more peace of mind than just archiving photos on your computer, even a Time Machine backup.


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