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Fix external references to iPhoto images after data move Apps
If you use iPhoto, but keep the original images external to the iPhoto Library package, this hint explains how to move those externally-referenced files to a new location and update the iPhoto library so that iPhoto knows about the move.

This hint is for iPhoto 6 and higher.

To update your Library with the new location of your files, you need to go into the Package Contents of you iPhoto Library (Control-click on iPhoto and pick Show Package Contents from the pop-up menu]). Once the new folder opens, navigate into the Originals directory. There you will have a directory for each year of which you have photos.

If you have externally-referenced images, then the images inside of the Originals directory structure will be symbolic links to original files. Update these directories with symbolic links that point to the new location of your files. For instance, for my 2008 library, I renamed the 2008 directory in Originals to 2008_, then made a symbolic link to the new location of the 2008 folder, and put the link in the Originals directory and named it 2008.

Now when iPhoto goes looking for the original photos, it will find them via the symbolic link to the new location. Don't mess with the Data and the Modified directories, since they contain local images like thumbnails and modified files.

[robg adds: I can't test this one, as my photos are all stored within the iPhoto library.]
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Fix external references to iPhoto images after data move
Authored by: fds on Jul 27, '09 07:54:15AM

No, they are not symbolic links. They are Finder aliases.

So you can go ahead and move the original images around on the same partition, with no need to update the aliases.

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Fix external references to iPhoto images after data move
Authored by: Dr. T on Jul 27, '09 10:45:06AM

They don't even have to be on the same partition. You can move photos to any connected drive and iPhoto can still find them, edit them, e-mail them, etc..

Why do people come up with workarounds for problems that don't exist?

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Fix external references to iPhoto images after data move
Authored by: trekside on Jul 27, '09 10:28:43PM

I had external references break every time I copied folders and their associated iPhoto Libraries between disk images. Now with this solution I know I can go ahead and transfer folders and iPhoto Libraries to new sparsebundle disk images (re-categorize and re-organize my stuff) and fix any broken external references.

Thanks so much for posting this solution. The Symlink solution make sense. I can't wait to try it.

I like to store my pictures with my own folder structure for organization, and use iPhoto's Smart Folders for analyzation. (Smart Folders in Finder, Mail, iPhoto and other apps are just too cool.)

I categorize some subjects into different iPhoto libraries, and many of those go into sparsebundle disk images. When iPhoto gained the feature to store files outside of iPhoto Libraries, I began to use it. After renaming some disk image mounts and moving pictures with their associated iPhoto libraries between disk images (pre sparsebundles and maybe even pre sparseimage disk images), I noticed that the external references in the iPhoto library were broken right away. (I like the advantages of reducing the file count and copy speed in the Finder, when using disk images. Sparsebundles are just great, too.)

With this Mac OS X Hint, I don't have to be as cautious or restrained when planning another iPhoto-and-disk-image Library. Awesome.

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Fix external references to iPhoto images after data move
Authored by: Frederico on Jul 27, '09 03:58:17PM

As I use iPhoto only casually, I need to ask what might seem an ignorant question:

How does one even decide whether or not to maintain an external library, and, as a follow-up, how does one tell (besides testing the hint by moving ones data) if one already is using external links and not knowing it.

The reason I ask is one out of near-panic; I recently threw tons of old folders of images into iPhoto, and then deleted the original (and only) folders. I see these images in iPhoto; my library grew substantially in size after doing this, but I'm now worried I've somehow done away with my original source quality over hundreds and hundreds of high quality TIFF images taken over several years.

I would explore for the answer myself, but I am not ear the machine in question.



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Fix external references to iPhoto images after data move
Authored by: Frederico on Jul 27, '09 04:28:06PM

Whew. I believe I (in part) answered my own question: I found the iPhoto Preferences -Advanced -> 'Copy items to the iPhoto Library' [when Importing or Drag'n'drop]

Now, the odds of my accidentally having switched that (apparently default) toggle to 'off' over the last several versions is small, so I suspect that, as my library grew in size near-equal to that of the folders I added to it, I have original-quality/kind copies within iPhoto, and I need not worry that I lost something along the way.

A confirmation of the above would be appreciated.

Also, now that I see that, in principle, adding library references to, without copying files into the main library itself is akin to iTunes ability to simply reference files not kept in the iTunes Music Folder; and it is just a question of user preference as to why one might want to keep ones own folder hierarchy or organization strategy intact; or why one may need/desire to distribute storage load over multiple volumes/disks, and yet maintain a single library application to manage, edit and publish said items.

That said, any commentary as to why *you* like to store items outside of iPhoto, rather than within, are most welcome. Now that I discover that the option was there to begin with, I likely would have chosen it and left my original flat-file sorting intact, just in case I ever decide iPhoto is not for me.



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