How to Fix Errors in Photo Library on MacOS?

You are doing everything right, but trouble will break out anyway. Such is the world of troubleshooting a hectic PC where the prompt says it fixes your PC but makes things worse in some way.

At least that’s where Lifehacker reader Joanne found herself today. She recently wrote to 911 tech support with the following question:

It’s a long journey, but the last resort after 19 days of everything I can think of.

I had 31,700 photos and 1,100 videos in my iMac Photo Library. After releasing a few duplicates there, I downloaded photosweeper, just started the process when the photo library crashed. When I reopened the library, I was asked to rebuild the library, which I did, and now there are only 3409 photos in it !!!!

I can’t seem to find the wizards, but I have an originals file that only seems to have photos up to 2016 when I last changed my Mac.

I’ve tried using the Finder spotlight, which returns 80,000+ images, and when I try to copy, my Mac keeps restarting due to an error.

I thought I last backed up my photos to a USB stick in February 2020, but when I try to open the Photos 2020 file it comes back with an error message.

I am a mother of four and most of the images are from my children and I am very desperate to rebuild my library. Can you offer any help or advice?

When recovery doesn’t recover

I’m sorry you ran into this, Joan. It must have been a three week bout of anxiety for you; at least that’s how I would feel if I suddenly lost over 27,000 photos. At that time, I had never experienced this on my Mac, but all my photos go straight to the cloud to live on other people’s servers, because I don’t trust any hard drive or operating system to store my data.

I’m not saying this to scold you, but to remind everyone that regularly backing up your important data (especially photos that you cannot lose) should be a regular part of your digital life. When in doubt, just remember: keep your files in as many places as possible, because it never hurts to create multiple backups.

Generally, I would recommend sticking to three locations: your computer, the cloud service, and some kind of external storage that you manage, like a USB hard drive. You don’t need to back up your files to all of these locations at the same time every time – perhaps you sync your PC’s photo folder to the cloud, or simply drag and drop every photo you take to the cloud storage from your device or PC. Perhaps copying your photo archive from your PC to external storage is something you do more economically in case you ever need to restore an old file, but you don’t worry about losing everything in your cloud storage.

And speaking of backups, if you find yourself stranded with your Mac again, the first thing you should do is make a complete direct copy of your photo library to a different location (be it to a different folder on your PC or somewhere another folder). external storage). This gives you the ability to revert to the state in which everything was correct when the problem occurred, in case troubleshooting makes the situation worse.

While troubleshooting seems to make things worse, I think you still have a few options that you can try to repair. First, have you checked out iCloud ? Sounds simple, but if you’ve backed up photos from your Mac to Apple’s online storage (ideally automatically), everything in your photo library might still be there.

However, before we do anything else, let’s back up your existing photo library. On the macOS desktop, click Go from the menu and select Home . Open your Pictures folder and copy your photo library somewhere else – ideally external storage, but even copying it to your desktop should be sufficient (if you have the space).

Now is the time to explore these iCloud photos. Assuming your library is safely stored in the cloud, you can download them all manually (ugh) or try re-syncing them with your Mac. Launch the Photos app and tap Photos> Settings . Click on iCloud and make sure Upload Originals to This Mac is selected.

Although, in fact, it might be better to create a new photo library instead, just in case. Rather than just launching Photos , press and hold the Option key while clicking the Photos icon. You will be prompted with the following prompt, which you will use to create a completely new library:

Once you have done that, go to Photos > Preferences , click Use as System Photo Library under the General tab, then you can use the iCloud link to download the specified originals.

If your images aren’t in iCloud, let’s try something else. Assuming that you have backed up your photo library, go to the original library folder in the “Images” folder, and click it, hold down the «Control». Click Show Package Contents and click the Resources folder. Delete the recovery folder that should be present , close the Finder window and restart the Photos app. Hopefully, you either get a brand new recovery process that works, your photos magically appear, or there is something useful in this folder.

If not, I would go back to the idea of ​​“create a new photo library” that I suggested earlier. After you’ve customized this setting and navigated to the Photos app, go back to your original photo library and follow the same Show Package Contents step as before. This time, try dragging the entire Originals folder into the Photos app, which should copy all of your old photos back to your new library.

Likewise, I’m not sure if you tried with the backup, but you might consider using the Show Package Contents route to see if you have any more files in the Originals folder . Or, if not, try copying this file into the Photos folder by launching Photos , holding down the Option key , and using the Other Library command to select this photo library.

Either way, all of your photos must be in one of these three locations – buried in an existing library, backed up, or securely stored in iCloud (or iCloud ‘s Recently Deleted folder). This or they may be in the Photosweeper photo album,if one exists . You might want to restart the app (after you’ve made all the backups of your photo library) and see if it helps you restore anything. I doubt it, but it’s worth a try.

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