How to Create a New Photo Library in Photos App for Mac
The Mac Photos app allows for the creation of entirely new photo libraries, which means it’s easy to make a separate photo library if you want to keep some pictures outside of a primary image collection. This can be helpful for many reasons, whether to differentiate a personal photo library from a work picture library, or perhaps to keep a private photo library separate from other less private pictures on the same computer.
Making a new Photos library is really quite simple in Photos for OS X, but it’s not entirely obvious. No, you don’t go to the File menu, where you can create new albums and folders for pictures, and is another reasonable management method, but instead you must use a key modifier while the Photos app is launching. To be completely clear, making a new photo library means none of the existing libraries images will be included in the new picture library, unless specifically added. This allows for completely different and unique collections of images.
How to Make a New Photo Library in Photos for Mac OS X
- Quit out of Photos app
- Re-launch the Photos app in OS X while holding down the Option key, start holding down the option key immediately
- At the “Choose Library” screen, select the “Create New…” button
- Give the new photo library a name and choose a location on the Mac to store the new photo library (the default will be the users Pictures folder where the other photo libraries are stored)
- Photos app will launch with a new and completely blank photo library, ready for you to import pictures into and giving the familiar fresh launch screen with four options:
- Connect a camera or memory card and import pictures from that
- Drag pictures into the Photos app to import by file
- Use Import from the File menu
- Turn on iCloud Photo Library and import pictures from an iCloud account
Remember, this new photo library is separate from whatever the default photo library was, whether it was set up as new or imported from iPhoto or Aperture. That means it will not contain any of the previously imported pictures unless they are added again.
There does not appear to be a limit to how many new photo libraries you can make in the Photos app for Mac, but juggling between tons of them could become unwieldy, so it’s usually best to make a new library for specific purposes. Having a unique library for each work, personal, private, for example.
Switching Between Libraries in Photos App for OS X
Now that you have multiple photo libraries, you’ll likely want to switch between them sometimes. This is quite simple and similar to creating a new library to begin with.
To select a different library, simply hold down the Option key when you launch Photos app again, then choose the desired photo library. All libraries that have been used by the Photos app will show up on this selection screen, making it easy to juggle between different libraries should the need arise. If a library is stored on an external volume, you’ll obviously need to connect that drive or volume to be able to select and switch to that photo library in the Mac Photos app.
Those migrating to Photos app from iPhoto and Aperture apps will likely recall that the Option modifier on launch was used the same way to create new libraries or to choose different photo libraries, which allowed for moving libraries to other volumes amongst other things. It still works that way in OS X with the Photos app.
The new Photos app for OS X shares much in common with the iOS Photos app, making many Photos tips relevant to both platforms, particularly since iCloud Photo Library will sync the libraries together seamlessly.