Where Photos Files Are Stored on Mac
The Photos app in Mac OS aims to manage all images found within the application, including pictures copied from an iPhone or memory card into the Photos app and those imported into the app as well. But have you ever wondered where those actual Photos files are stored on a Mac?
We’re going to show you how to locate the image files that are contained within the Photos app on Mac OS. This is specific to Photos app, if you don’t use the Photos app to manage pictures on your Mac then your photos will not be stored within the applications package library and instead you’d likely find them through Finder in the generic Pictures folder or elsewhere in Mac OS.
Photos File Location in Mac OS
Photos image files are stored in the following location in macOS Big Sur, Catalina, and newer.
In macOS Mojave, High Sierra, Sierra, El Capitan, Yosemite, etc, the photo originals are in the following location:
The ~ tilde represents the users home directory, if you’re going to use the excellent Go To Folder command to access that directory don’t skip the ~ prefix.
This obviously focuses on local image files and not anything stored within iCloud, which are instead accessed through iCloud Photo Library or the Photos app.
How to Access Where Photos Files Are Stored in Mac OS
If you are going to manually navigate to the Photos file location using the Finder you would use the following steps;
- Open the Finder in Mac OS and go to your home directory
- Go to the “Pictures” folder
- Locate the file named “Photos Library.photoslibrary”
- Right-click (or Control+Click) on “Photos Library.photoslibrary” and choose “Show Package Contents”
- Open the folder named “originals” or “Masters” (depending on the macOS version) to find the image files contained within Photos app
The Masters folder contains directories of photos organized by date in year, month, and day subfolders. Within each folder are the image files from that specific date.
Note if you delete a picture from the masters directory it will no longer be accessible in Photos app. This is not recommended for obvious reasons. Copy a file from the directory if you wish to edit it.
This package folder is not intended to be user-facing which is why it is hidden, nonetheless you can access your files directly if you so desire.
If you’re confused, the video below shows the right-click / control-click approach to accessing the Photos master image files:
Another approach to finding the original file from Photos app on Mac is using the “Show Referenced” function, which will open a Finder window directly to a file that was chosen from the Photos app.
Savvy Mac users will notice that Photos app images are located in the same package style containment as other common Mac apps, and in the same parent directory as where iPhoto images are found and where Photo Booth files are located.