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A workaround for an iPhoto/set desktop bug System 10.6
On both my Mac Pro and my iMac, I've run into a problem where the iPhoto library simply doesn't show up in the Desktop & Screen Saver System Preferences panel (in Mac OS X 10.6.x). Well, sometimes it shows up, but simply as a line reading iPhoto, but without any actual content.

When this happened the first time, I looked in Console and found the following entry for each time I'd tried to load the Desktop tab of the Desktop & Screen Saver panel:
1/12/12 9:09:36 AM    System Preferences[4134]    **** DesktopPref error: DSKiPhotoRootSource -loadData TIME OUT!!! There something wrong with iLife Media Browser
Googling on that error led to a number of pages, including iLife: Cannot See iPhoto Files in Other iLife Applications on Apple's support site. But after trying everything in that article, I still couldn't see my iPhoto images when trying to set the Desktop picture.

I even tried deleting all cache files, rebooting, and (a very time consuming process) rebuilding the iPhoto library. Nothing fixed the problem. (This seems to be related to the size of the iPhoto library; I've only ever seen the issue on my main Mac, which has over 25,000 photos and videos, using 235GB of drive space.)

The workaround: While I still haven't solved the problem (as it seems to be a bug in OS X itself), there is a workaround. As posted by mrkgoo in this thread on Apple's Discussion site, here's what to do:
  • Open the Desktop & Screen Saver panel in System Preferences.
  • Click on the Screen Saver tab. You probably won't see iPhoto listed here, but just wait -- potentially quite a while, but keep waiting. Eventually, you will see a fully-functional iPhoto entry.
  • Click on the Desktop tab, and bingo, notice you now have an iPhoto entry there, too.
  • Choose the album you want to use for the images on each connected monitor.
  • Click back to the Screen Saver tab -- if you don't, then you'll have to repeat this process the next time you open the Desktop & Screen Saver System Preferences panel.
While this is moderately annoying, it definitely works. Why does the workaround work? I'm not sure, but to my non-technical eye, it seems that the Desktop tab has a short timeout for loading the iPhoto library, while the Screen Saver tab has no such limit. Once the data's been read in, though, the Desktop tab is quite willing to display and use it.

[crarko adds: I haven't tested this one myself.]
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A workaround for an iPhoto/set desktop bug
Authored by: pwsloss on Jan 13, '12 09:10:17AM

The problem -- evidenced by the delay in iPhoto appearing -- may be that the utility has to scan and index all the photos in the iPhoto library. If you have a huge collection, that can take considerable time. The list of iPhoto albums and events takes a while to show up in Lion, too.



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A workaround for an iPhoto/set desktop bug
Authored by: robg on Jan 17, '12 12:05:41PM

I've given it _hours_ before (opened System Preferences, let it sit there while doing other work), and it never showed. But click over to Screen Saver, and it shows up within a couple of minutes.

-rob.

---
Now: at Many Tricks, maker of useful apps
http://manytricks.com. Previously: founded this site.



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A workaround for an iPhoto/set desktop bug
Authored by: ershler on Jan 13, '12 11:11:33AM

I have a similar sort of problem with Lion on my MacBook Pro. I use the screen saver that shows iTunes art work. It will run fine for days and then suddenly the screen saver reports that "Your iTunes Library has no art work". At this point I just get that message and a black screen. My work around is to go to the screen saver preferences, select another screen saver and then select iTunes Art Work again.



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A workaround for an iPhoto/set desktop bug
Authored by: yahooer on Jan 14, '12 05:47:38AM

Thanks for posting. After recent Firefox update, we lost pinch to expand. Your workaround got it back.



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A workaround for an iPhoto/set desktop bug
Authored by: AMCarter3 on Jan 17, '12 11:00:04AM

I'm on OS 10.6.8 and have the same issue. I found a backdoor approach that is easy and it works. Just open iPhoto, select a batch of photos from an event (or just one photo). Then click in the menubar on SHARE > SET DESKTOP. The photos will then appear in your Desktop & Screen Saver preference. It even works with dual screens - you can select one of the photos for one screen and do a random rotation on the other screen.

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Cheers, Mac



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A workaround for an iPhoto/set desktop bug
Authored by: zydec on Sep 26, '12 12:09:45PM

Had the same issues. Combining some of these suggestions worked for me. First, I selected some images in iPhoto, used the menu bar to "share to desktop" then closed and reopened System Preferences. When I did, the iphoto library content was again visible.



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