How to manually back up your iPhoto photos library.

Modified on Fri, 08 Sep 2023 at 01:35 AM

You have a couple of options for safeguarding those precious photos stored in iPhoto or Apple's Photos app. If you're looking to back up the images to a physical drive locally, rather than a Cloud service, here's the easiest way.


  1. An external hard drive.
    To keep this easy, use a drive with more storage than the Mac's drive where your photos are currently stored.

  2. Connection Cable
    This typically comes included with the external drive. If you can't find it and need to order a new one, try to choose a cable where the connection each end matches a port on each of the devices. That way you won't need to buy additional adapters or hubs.

  3. Login Credentials
    Most likely your backing up images from the iPhotos app under your account. Just remember, if your machine has multiple users setup, this backup process will only include images from the account your logged into.


  • Easy Process
  • Images are stored in iPhoto Library file and are not accessible individually. To access your images later, you'll need to transfer the file to another Mac where you can import the file into the new iPhoto app.

  • Backup only includes photos stored in your iPhoto app. Images saved to your desktop or folders, outside the app, won't be included.


1) Connect your back up drive

Plug one end of the connection cable into your back up drive and the other into your Mac; then open a new Finder window. If the drive has been successful connected, you should see it listed in the left side bar in Finder.

2) Open the Pictures folder

Select home directory in the Finder sidebar and open the Pictures folder.

3) Copy the Photos Library

Look for a file name Photos Library or iPhoto LibraryIn some cases you may have both files, so double check to make sure. Copy the files once you've located them. 

To copy a single file: Select the file using right click or "CTRL + click", then choose Copy from the drop-down menu that appears.

To select multiple files: Hold down the Command key and click each file, then open the Edit menu and select Copy Items

4) Open your External Drive

In the finder window, navigate to the external drive you connected in step one. Open the folder where you'd like to save your photo library backup. Use "Command + V" to paste the copied library files into the folder.

Depending on the size of your photo library, it may take a few minutes to complete the transfer. Do not turn off the computer, disconnect the drive, or interrupt the transfer until it's complete. 

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