Help Me Deal with Lots of Photos
August 28, 2012 4:52 PM   Subscribe

How do you use iPhoto on a regular basis if you keep your library on an external drive?

I have a MacBook Air with a 250GB hard drive. My iPhoto library is currently 108GB of that.* I only have about 6GB free, and I can't continue this way.
I want to move my iPhoto library to an external hard drive. (I figure I'll grab a 2TB one.)
But that means I'll only be able to view my photos when I'm connected to the hard drive, which I'll almost certainly leave at my house. What will happen at work when iPhoto launches when I connect my iPhone? Do I simply need to tell iPhoto not to open when I connect my phone? Or is there a way to keep thumbnails on my Air but keep the actual photos on the external drive?

* I have a two year old son and take lots and lots of photos of him. He is, of course, adorable.
posted by GatorDavid to Computers & Internet (3 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
Can you spring for Aperture or Lightroom? They do exactly what you're talking about quite easily-- store small versions locally for viewing and editing. I don't think "vault" capabilities (as they're called in Aperture) are built into iPhoto.
posted by supercres at 5:05 PM on August 28, 2012 [3 favorites]

One option: Have two libraries. A big one on your external hard drive, and a small one with recent photos on your internal drive.

It is also possible to store some of your photos on an external drive, while still having the thumbnails for them in the library on your internal disk. iPhoto should prompt you for the external disk if you try to access a photo that isn't stored on your main folder. However, I found this approach developed problems when I moved the photos to a new, larger external drive, and I can't find any mention of it in the iPhoto documentation any more.
posted by Good Brain at 5:58 PM on August 28, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: To use your existing iPhoto library with an external disk:
1) quit iPhoto
2) move library from current location (default is ~/Pictures) to the external.
3) hold down the option key while launching iPhoto.
4) remain holding option until a dialog box appears; one of the choices is to select a different location.
5) navigate to the new iPhoto library location you chose in step 2
6) iPhoto will now automatically look for this new location every time the program starts.
6a) if there is no iPhoto library found (eg. if the external is not connected), a new empty one will be created in the default location.

To select which photo programs launch when your iPhone/camera is connected to your Mac:
1) connect your iPhone/camera to your Mac
2) launch the Image Capture program. This default application is found in the Applications folder.
3) Image Capture has two sections along the left side, Devices and Shared. Your phone/camera should be listed under Devices
4) Choose your phone/camera. Along the left side, at the bottom of the current window, there will be a drop down menu asking which program to automatically launch when the device is connected. Do nothing is a possibility.

By default iPhoto keeps all pictures and needed files in one monolithic package. You can actually look inside this package by right-clicking on your iPhoto library and choosing "Show package contents". It is generally a bad idea to do this.
posted by now i'm piste at 10:54 PM on August 28, 2012 [1 favorite]

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