Forum Question: How Do I Move Photos Out Of iPhoto Onto an External HD?

I am running iPhoto 11. It is running slow and buggy. I know it is way too full of pictures and that I need to clear out older ones into storage. (I am and always have run time Machine) I thought what I needed to do was to copy the photo events onto my eHD and be sure they were all there. Then delete them from the iPhoto library. But, every time I drag an event to the eHD, the event folder doesn’t copy, instead all the individual photos do. So, before I create new folders on the eHD to drag events, is there an easier or better way to handle this. My families photos are very precious to me and I don’t want to risk loosing them.
Also, is it possible to use an eHD on a Mac and a PC? I am the school yearbook editor and I want to save jpegs between home(Mac) and school(pc).

Comments: 13 Responses to “How Do I Move Photos Out Of iPhoto Onto an External HD?”

    1/7/12 @ 7:56 pm

    First, you mention that iPhoto is being slow and buggy. Have you tried re-building your iPhoto library? (hold down Command and Option when starting iPhoto)
    So you are dealing with two different systems here: iPhoto’s library and your Mac’s file system. The iPhoto library keeps photos in events and also there are tags, edited versions of photos, titles, etc. The Mac file system just deals with folders and files. So when you drag and drop photos from iPhoto to the Finder, you just get photos.
    You could create a folder, then drag a single event to it, yes. But you will just end up with a folder of files, not any other data like titles, tags, faces, places, etc.
    So another method is to split your iPhoto library into two. That way you can still access those photos in iPhoto.
    There is no easy way to do it. What I would do is to copy the entire iPhoto Library package (in your Pictures folder) to your external drive. Then rename that new copy. Now you have two copies. Start iPhoto holding down only the Command key and you get to choose either library.
    So then just delete old events from your main library, knowing they are in the one on the external drive too. Then delete recent events on the external library.
    That’s an alternative to just having a bunch of files in folders anyway.

      2/8/13 @ 10:00 am

      Gary, just so I understand this.. are you saying that when I edit a pic in iPhoto then drag/drop it to the desktop I lose all the editing? I didn’t realize this. How then do I get an edited photo out of iPhoto to my desktop?

        2/8/13 @ 10:14 am

        No. Not at all. Not sure where you got that from my response above. If you edit a picture, and then drag and drop to the desktop, you get an export of the edited picture.

          2/8/13 @ 1:37 pm

          ok, Thanks. It was the last sentence in 2nd paragraph “when you drag and drop photos from iPhoto to the Finder, you just get photos.”

          I associated “finder” with “desktop” and thought you were saying that the edits would not carry over. Like others.. I’m trying to store photos outside of iPhoto to free up some space.

          Thanks Gary.

            2/8/13 @ 4:18 pm

            Well, I said “you just get photos.” What I mean by that is you just get jpg image files. You don’t get the title, tags, album associations, faces and other data that you get when you have the photo in iPhoto as part of your library. A single jpg file doesn’t have those. It is just by itself.
            Likewise, if you have made some edits to the photo, you then have at least two versions of the photo in iPhoto: the original and the edited one. If you drag and drop to the Finder, you get the edited version as a file. But this file doesn’t include the original one. So that’s another bit of data that doesn’t come along when you just have a single file.

    1/8/12 @ 8:00 am

    Thanks so much. I think I might do that and separate the libraries on the eHD by year so that I could find pictures easily. Will that work?
    Also, is it possible to use an eHD on a Mac and a PC? I am the school yearbook editor and I want to save jpegs between home(Mac) and school(pc).

      1/8/12 @ 9:52 am

      You can do it by year. For yearbook projects where each year is a completed book, that may be a good idea.
      You can use a drive on both Mac and PC if it is formatted as FAT32.
      But that brings up another issue. If you are using iPhoto libraries, then iPhoto is a Mac-only program. Not only will it be hard for a Mac to store the iPhoto library on a FAT32 (windows) drive (never tried it) but the library won’t be of any use on a Windows machine.
      So you may have to just forget about using iPhoto and iPhoto libraries if you need compatibility with Windows computers. And use plain files instead.
      But if you just need to get pictures from your Mac to a PC every once in a while, what I would do is to keep the drive as Mac and use it to back up old years of photos. Then get a separate USB thumb drive and format that as FAT32 and use that to shuttle individual photo files from Mac to PC when you need it.

    Sam Sayger
    1/8/12 @ 8:36 pm

    Could I ask: Is moving all my pictures from my “Pictures” to an external HD considered “Backup”? It seems that I’ve read posts which describe this as moving pictures only and loosing all data (editing, tagging, etc.) out which leads to major problems when re-creating the library. I have many thousands of photos on my Mac OS X 10.6.8 Snow Leopard 1TB 3.2 GHz Intel Core 13 w/4GB 1333 MHz DDR3. Also, (another question here) is it possible to disable the “face recognition” device?? I’m creating a monster here w/all the “face” photos!!

      1/8/12 @ 8:48 pm

      Copying (not moving) pictures is way to back them up, yes. But if you are using iPhoto, it is better to copy the iPhoto library, which includes all the data and organization.
      Better yet, is to use Time Machine to create hourly backups. That’s much better.
      You can just not use the “Faces” feature of iPhoto. It doesn’t really create anything. It just tags the photos with the people in them.

    11/29/12 @ 11:50 am

    Okay – If I am using Time Machine does that mean all my thousands of pictures and many albums, etc are copied safely? If so, then I can run the rebuild you mention above? It recommends backing up before proceeding.

      11/29/12 @ 2:26 pm

      Right. Unless you have set it up in an unusual way, Time Machine will backup everything on your drive. So if you mess up a file (like your iPhoto library) then you can restore it from the backup.
      But you can always make a quick copy (duplicate) of the iPhoto library first, then run the rebuild, then delete the copy once you see it all came out OK. That way you have two backups.

        Patricia Godfrey
        2/11/13 @ 1:26 am

        How do you make a dupe of the iphoto library then?

          2/11/13 @ 6:15 am

          Of the entire Library? It is a large file (package) in your Photos folder. Duplicate that and you get a duplicate of your entire library. Hold down Option when starting iPhoto to choose between libraries.

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