Where iPhoto Pictures are Located and How to Access the iPhoto Library and Picture Files

Aug 30, 2011 - 13 Comments

iPhoto pictures location iPhoto is a great picture management app, but you may still occasionally want to access the original picture files for a variety of purposes, either to import them into another app or for backup purposes. This is easily done in Mac OS X, but what exactly you are looking for depends on which version of iPhoto you are using. Whether you’re using the latest iPhoto or an earlier version, we’ll show you exactly how to access your raw photos out of the iPhoto app, stored locally on your Mac.


Do note this location will change when iPhoto app turns into Photos app for OS X.

Where iPhoto Pictures Are Stored

iPhoto pictures are stored within the home /Pictures/ directory, in a file called iPhoto Library. But with newer versions of iPhoto, iPhoto Library became a package file rather than a folder, so in order to access the original picture files you have to go one step further in one of two locations:

iPhoto 11 (9.0) Photo Library Storage Location:
In the latest versions of iPhoto you will find your pictures stored in the user library Pictures folder inside a self contained Iphoto library package, that file and location is the following:

~/Pictures/iPhoto Library.photolibrary/Masters/

Inside that directory you will find the originals, sorted by date, and broken into subfolders for additional pictures. This is the same with all new versions of iPhoto.

iPhoto 10 picture library:
~/Pictures/iPhoto Library.photolibrary/Masters/

iPhoto 9 pictures location:
/Pictures/iPhoto Library/Masters/

iPhoto 8 and prior versions pictures location:
/Pictures/iPhoto Library/Originals/

Accessing the iPhoto Picture Files and Originals

You can either access the directory from Go To Folder command within the Mac OS X Desktop by hitting Command+Shift+G or by opening the directory manually:

  • Open /Pictures/ and locate the “iPhoto Library” file
  • Right-Click and select “Show Package Contents”
  • Navigate to “Masters” or “Originals” to find your original iPhoto pictures

Picture Organization by /Year/Month/Date/
Regardless of the version of iPhoto, the pictures are stored and organized by folders based on dates, broken down by year, month, and day. For example, pictures imported on August 30th 2011 would be in the folder “2011” followed by “August” and then within that directory, another named “30”. If you know exactly what import date you are looking for you can specify that as a full path and go directly to it, like so:

/Pictures/iPhoto Library/Masters/2011/August/30/

The precise path format varies slightly in iPhoto versions, and older versions may contain full dates in the directory in the format of “August 30, 2011″ but it’s not any more difficult to work with. These directories are also the same regardless of the device the pictures originated from, whether it’s from an iPhone or a digital camera.

Once you’re in the directory, you can copy these files over to elsewhere and it will not impact your iPhoto library assuming the originals remain in the library.

Enjoy this tip? Subscribe to the OSXDaily newsletter to get more of our great Apple tips, tricks, and important news delivered to your inbox! Enter your email address below:

Related articles:

Posted by: William Pearson in Mac OS X, Tips & Tricks

13 Comments

» Comments RSS Feed

  1. Mark says:

    Hold option on launch and you can select a new library too, if you want to store it on another hard drive

  2. Munas says:

    I think that in text iPhone should be replaced with iPhoto
    “But with newer versions of iPhoto, iPhone Library became a package file rather than a folder, so in order to access the original picture files you have to go one step further in one of two locations”

  3. Ben says:

    Aperture does this too, it kind of annoys me because I like actually having access to my files. Makes me worried that Apple is moving away from that, like iOS.

    • minsterkermy says:

      yea, i agree. i dont see why iphoto, aperture and even picassa have to create a ‘library’ of sorts basically duplicating all your photos. its stupid.

  4. bArt says:

    Give users what they want? Phooey! Plain filing systems are belong to Apple. You need obscure library system to be happy.

  5. DD says:

    how would you merge 2 libraries?

  6. […] ~/Pictures/ and locate the “iPhoto Library” package, the icon looks like the image to the right – do not open the package you will want […]

  7. slamdunk says:

    Even easier, safer and actually supported: File -> Export…

  8. jk says:

    *EVEN* Easier! *Completely* Safe – And *totally* supported!:

    From your Open/Choose File dialog box:

    Media -> iPhoto

    (ie: Don’t go hunting for folders, get to all your iPhoto piccies by choosing ‘Media’ on the LHS of the window).

  9. Matt says:

    Yah, then try deleting files from iPhone and go look at the masters folders. The files are still there. So just what are you deleting…just the thumbnails?

  10. Tex says:

    Thanks so much! It was very helpfull!

  11. Beth says:

    THANK YOU!

Leave a Reply

 

Shop for Apple & Mac Deals on Amazon.com

Subscribe to OSXDaily

Subscribe to RSS Subscribe to Twitter Feed Follow on Facebook Subscribe to eMail Updates