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Fix very slow iPhoto load and/or quit time Apps
If you have an issue with iPhoto being slow and barely usable with 1,000+ photos, maybe you are running into this issue, as detailed on Macintouch's reader reports. Here's a summary from Eric Lindsay's write-up there:
iPhoto 5 can be very slow to load, and even slower (7 minutes) to unload for some users. This appears to be related to significant increases in the size of the file in iPhoto Library called Library.iPhoto For my 7GB 6300 photo collection Library.iPhoto was 2.1MB under iPhoto 4, but when converted to iPhoto 5 bloated to 263MB.
Eric later adds more details about the cause of the problem:
This occurs when photographs from certain cameras including some or all Pentax and Nikon are included in your Library. These cameras include in their JPG EXIF information called a MakerNote. For most cameras the MakerNote is a few hundred bytes. In a Pentax Optio, the MakerNote is around 40KB.
Basically, while we all wait for Apple to create a patch, I have created a small set of AppleScripts [43KB download] to back up and restore an iPhoto library while stripping the EXIF part of the jpg. This could be useful, as well, to create albums and import photos from a set of folders, like if you are coming from Windows.

Exporter: It will ask iPhoto for all albums and then copy each album's photos into a created folder, stripping allb info from the JPEG except for the date.

Importer: Then you re-import those photos, and the script will recreate the albums and re-import the photos into the corresponding album.

Warning: All meta information from the library will be lost. It's definitely not optimal, but it can make iPhoto usable while waiting for Apple to correct the issue. Please read the Read Me -- it's important! It explains a procedure using iPhoto Buddy so that you keep the old bloated library untouched along with the new optimized one. Then when Apple fixes the issue, you'll be able to go back to your old one with all the meta information.

[robg adds: I haven't seen this problem, but we have a Canon camera, which has a small MakerNote field. In the Macintouch reader report, there's also a pointer to a Perl script that reportedly strips just the MakerNote from each image file. This is another potential solution, but I'm not sure if the bloated iPhoto.Library file will then automatically reduce in size, or if you'd have to re-import all your images. I'm also not sure what Apple can do about the problem, since it seems to be the cameras that are recording a 40KB file with each image.]
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Fix very slow iPhoto load and/or quit time
Authored by: skinnyjimmy on Aug 19, '05 10:09:53AM

I tried the remove makernote script referenced above to remove the makernote info from all my photos (approx. 6,500) - but unfortunately it didn't reduce the size of the iPhoto.Library file, even after rebuilding the Library.

I never got into reimporting the photos manually, as it seemed like a scary task!

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Fix very slow iPhoto load and/or quit time
Authored by: Fraggle on Aug 19, '05 12:48:18PM


I'm the author of the scripts, you have to use the importer script to reinsert all your photos in the library.
Rebuilding alone won't fix the bloated file issue.
If you follow the procedure closely, you'll be able to preserve your differents albums.

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sounds like this is a problem with the cameras
Authored by: Krioni on Aug 19, '05 03:07:28PM

It sounds to me like this is a problem with the camera manufacturers. What are they thinking adding that much info to the makernote EXIF field?

Is there any reason that much data in the makernote field benefits the camera customer, or is it junk information stored over and over for every image you have?

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Fix very slow iPhoto load and/or quit time
Authored by: raider on Aug 19, '05 03:26:28PM

This doesn't seem like much of a hint. It is basically saying "delete extra stuff and things will go faster".

I specifically will NOT delete EXIF data, as I use it regularly. And there could be many reasons that someone who doesn't use it right now, might want to *in the future*.

So I see the problem as two fold - first, some cameras are putting large chunks of data in the EXIF info, possibly unnecessarily - and second, iPhoto may be doing something strange that is causing duplication of that data...

Do we know exactly what is different between the iPhoto 4 and iPhoto 5 libraries that causes the size difference, and why it slows down iPhoto?

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Fix very slow iPhoto load and/or quit time
Authored by: hamarkus on Aug 20, '05 06:51:11PM

What I remember from the Apple discussion forums where Eric Lindsay first posted this info (and the link to the Perl script that only removes the MakerNote and nothing else from the EXIF information) is that iPhoto 4 stored the EXIF information for all photos not in a single file (as it is done with iPhoto 5 and the Library.iPhoto file) but in a separate file for each roll (or even each photo, I am not sure anymore).

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Fix very slow iPhoto load and/or quit time
Authored by: starwxrwx on Aug 22, '05 04:42:55AM

How do you "use" the EXIF data? Is it accesbile in iPhoto?

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Fix very slow iPhoto load and/or quit time
Authored by: raider on Aug 23, '05 06:00:24PM

Some of it is available in iPhoto. Mostly exposure information, and whatnot. We use it in Photoshop for tweaking photos...

Do a "get info" on the photo in iPhoto...

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Fix very slow iPhoto load and/or quit time
Authored by: alblue on Aug 19, '05 03:29:56PM

Stripping out all EXIF data isn't necessarily a good idea. This contains other info, such as when the shot was taken, what the resolution is, white balance settings, whether the flash was used or not. On more expensive cameras it will also record camera-specific stuff such as what the apeture setting is, speed rating etc. I think with iPhoto 5, the EXIF data is also used to record which position you've rotated the photo, so you might find stripping out all EXIF data may result in your photos returning to their original orientation.

It's also used to store information by some tools (though I think iPhoto uses the metadata resource fork) such as who took it, any comments added and so forth.

You should generally avoid these types of cameras that generate large amount of extra data rather than stripping them all; in particular, you should avoid Nikon cameras. They encrypt the white balance information (essential if you want to do much post-processing on your computer systems) to prevent 'unauthorised' use of the information. They've also been threatening to use the DCMA to prevent people using anything other than their tools -- which unsurprisingly don't run on Macs.

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fix iphoto and avoid Nikon? I think not...
Authored by: dmayer on Aug 23, '05 02:02:14AM

I agree that stripping the exif data isn't necessarily a good idea, although most iPhoto users likely won't miss most of this info. If I'm not mistaken JPEGs have a header with this info anyway (for use by the software).

But as for "avoid[ing] these types of cameras...Nikon in particular", I think you are WAY off the mark. Disclosure: Yes, I use two digital Nikons (with different RAW formats!), and yes I use iPhoto (but not as my main cataloguing program). I also use Nikon's software Capture in addition to Photoshop CS2, and all this is running fine on my mac, thankyou. I have no problems with the loading of iPhoto5 with thousands of photos (all Nikon, some NEF/Raw), although I almost abandoned iPhoto in previous versions because of how bogged down things got with large libraries. The new version has so far fixed this for me.

So, which software of Nikon's doesn't run on the Mac?

As for Nikon "threatening to use the DCMA", can you post a link where Nikon actually says this? Adobe has an issue with the D2x encryption, and that issue is basically a legal liability issue courtesy of DCMA, but that doesn't mean Nikon is the one trying to throw their weight around. And Nikon is not the only company to encrypt their RAW data. See for a thorough discussion of this issue. To put it another way, RAW data from any camera manufacturer is not open source but proprietary. If you choose to avoid a company for not using open source only, you wouldn't be using a Mac for one thing.

If you have thousands of photos, you might consider using another program for cataloging. The way iPhoto stores edited versions and originals tends to add up to a lot of disk space very quickly. And iPhoto (previous versions at least) stripped a lot of exif data anyway, meaning if you wanted to preserve this data you needed to import your photos another way for backups, which meant even more disk space. I personally use PhotoMechanic (not perfect, and very pricey), and reserve iPhoto for updating my .mac web pages and making photobooks.

If iPhoto is running slow, consider another workaround, that is to use multiple libraries and an app like iPhotoLibraryManager. I have used this since previous versions of iPhoto, but it still works with iPhoto5 under OS 10.2.4.
Hopefully, Apple will fix this problem soon. (Although I'd rather they put all their resources into fixing the latest security update fiasco).

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Fix very slow iPhoto load and/or quit time
Authored by: allanmarcus on Aug 19, '05 03:40:10PM

I have a 9GB, 5000 photo iphoto library. I've noticed problem with speed when using iPhoto. Basically, the color wheel spins, iPhoto is non-responsive, and top says that iPhoto is using 3/4 of my processor.

A little research and I discovered the problem was that iPhoto seems to build thumbnails in the background if not using one of the three default thumbnail sizes. The answer to my spinning pizza was to hit the 1 key in the Library. 0, 1, and 2 are keyboard short cuts to preset thumbnail sizes. Once set to the preset size, no more pizza!

related hints:

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Fix very slow iPhoto load and/or quit time
Authored by: starwxrwx on Aug 22, '05 04:38:06AM

Sounds promising I'll give it a go!

(no way I'm going to reimport and re-title my 4000 photos!)

and I love(d) my little pentax *sniff*

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Fix very slow iPhoto load and/or quit time
Authored by: starwxrwx on Sep 04, '05 06:54:03AM

Changing the default Library size made all the difference!

Now iPhoto loads very quickly


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Fix very slow iPhoto load and/or quit time
Authored by: starwxrwx on Aug 22, '05 04:36:01AM


I have a Pentax Optio S and my ~4000 strong iPhoto Library takes FOREVER to load or close on my dual 2GHz G5!

Installing 2 GB more RAM has made a big difference, but this hint suggests a lot more.

Unfortuantely there is NO WAY I can re-import all my photos - I have spent HOURS and HOURS doing the titles on all and correcting the time on some of the photos (always make sure you camera is set to the right time!)

I guess I'll just have to live with it.

I am also a bit worried as another poster above says that this info has other stuff like the time the photo was taken (important when its correct) - will stripping the data totally wipe this info or what?

Anyway guess I will have to get a new camera or something...

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