Mac Photos App Storage Options

Most of the time you can just use a single iCloud photo library stored in your Pictures folder. But if you have other needs you can move it to an external drive, create more libraries, and even link photos to your library without importing them.

Comments: 19 Responses to “Mac Photos App Storage Options”

    Neil
    10 months ago

    Moving a Photos library works well if you aren’t using referenced files. Photos seems to record hard-coded referenced file paths in its library and when you move the referenced files you need to “find” the files for each separate directory. The recovery mechanism doesn’t seem as obvious, easy or powerful as the one in Aperture. In Photos this takes a long time if you’ve got a large referenced library.

    Sherry
    10 months ago

    I am trying to figure out how to delete certain photos on my iPhone without deleting them on my laptop.
    Do I turn off iCloud and if I turn it back on will the photos re-appear?

    10 months ago

    Sherry: If you are using iCloud Photos, don't think of it as "on my iPhone" or "on my laptop." There is only ONE location, and that is "in iCloud Photos." You can SEE that location on both devices, and both will cache recent photos locally for quick access. So what is your goal here? Is it to simply reduce the amount of space used on the device? If so, turn on the Optimize option for iCloud Photos.

    Mark
    10 months ago

    Gary, thanks again for decoding best kept secrets of Apple, like multiple libraries! "Use as System Library" means "Use as iCloud Library"! Most developers would have just simply done File>Open Library ⌘O to load a new library instead of option-launch. I was surprised by the speed flipping through photos, much faster than preview in Finder, but isn't that because Photo.library duplicates all photos into thumbnails locally regardless of where the master is kept (Referenced or Network/Cloud)?

    Justine
    10 months ago

    Hi Gary,
    I have ensemble photos (work) and gardening photos (personal) in my photos library and as a consequence the library is huge! I’ve been collecting both for over two decades. The example you used on a wedding seems very specific and time-based. In my examples, they are active collections of photos. Would you recommend breaking it into two libraries or not. I use mobile devices. Thanks.

    10 months ago

    Justine: Yes, if it were me I would occasionally export the work photos and store them as files or in another library. Or, I would find a good camera app that keeps its own library and use that for work and the regular Camera app for personal.

    10 months ago

    Mark: Yes, Photos is doing a lot behind the scenes to insure smoothness.

    Terry Spicknell
    10 months ago

    Part of the reason I’m asking this is photo stream is going away. I do not use iCloud photos. Most of my photos are on my 27” Mac. Is there a way to sync photos So that the same photos are on my on iPhone, iPad, 27” Mac and Mac mini, but not by using icloud.

    Thanks for your excellent videos

    10 months ago

    Terry: iCloud is what does that. So why not use iCloud? You can use manual sync like before iCloud, but that just means syncing from new pictures from iPhone to Mac all the time, and then syncing back to iPhone and iPad all the time, over and over. iCloud does it without any action on your part, automatically and all the time. So, why don't you want to use it?

    Bruce Holland
    10 months ago

    Hi Gary. Thanks for the photos tutorial. A couple of years ago when I had by old macbook pro I was running out of memory so I transfered my photos to an external drive. I now have a new Macbook and plenty of memory and would like all my photos in one place on my new mac. How can I add the old photos off the external drive to my current photos on the mac?

    10 months ago

    Bruce: It all depends. Are the old photos files, or in a Photos library? If they are files, just drag and drop them in. If they are in a separate library it gets tricky. You could switch to that library and then make it your system library, let it merge to iCloud, then switch back to your current library. Or you could just switch to it and export all the photos and import them into your current library. Lots of choices.

    Celeste Parker
    10 months ago

    When taking photos with my iPhone, the files are so large that I can't upload them to many sites or to some email accounts. How can I reduce the digital size of each photo that I take. Also, my iPhone, iPadPro, MacBook Pro photos do not sync, why? I do have an iCloud account but you'd think I could access all my photos on each device. Thank you in advance.

    10 months ago

    Celeste: The photos are pretty standard size. Not sure why a site is having trouble with that in 2023. As for Mail, if you do try to send a large photo, then you are prompted with an option to compress it. But if you aren't seeing that, then the image isn't considered that big. As for syncing issues, you may not have iCloud Photos turned on across all of your devices.

    Justine Murdy
    10 months ago

    Gary, following up on your answer above, "I would occasionally export the work photos and store them as files or in another library", how would I do that? Wondering if you can offer a way of organizing thru examples. Thank you so much!

    10 months ago

    Justine: Use the technique I show here to export "Unmodified Originals" from Photos. Then once you are sure you have these as files and don't need them in your Photos app anymore, delete them from there.

    Joe Gervasio
    10 months ago

    I would like to maintain a Photos library, with albums etc, outside iCloud and not copying imported files, but still sync the selected albums from that library to my iPhone when syncing/backing-up the phone. I can't seem to get this to work, as the sync process only offers albums from the iCloud library. How can I do this? Thanks for all the very helpful info!

    10 months ago

    Joe: You'd need to turn off iCloud Photos on your iPhone to do that. You can have it both ways on your iPhone: iCloud and not iCloud.

    william
    2 weeks ago

    Hey Garry, I have over 1.3 Tb of iCloud storage and this is an issue. However I frequently find myself looking through the photos search to find those old photos as references for my work such as notes, examples of stuff I'm working on, etc. Is it possible to offload full resolution photos/videos to an external drive but keep compressed (optimized) versions in iCloud to cut down on the space but keep the accessibility. then when I need the full resolution I just pull out the external drive.

    2 weeks ago

    William: That would be a lot of work to set up, and then a ton of ongoing work to deal with forever after. Are photos really the bulk of your 1.3 TB? Or is it videos? Or other files in iCloud Drive? Figure out what is really taking up the space. Offloading photos like you suggest sounds like a very bad solution to me.

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