iPhoto lost my files, help please!

Discussion in 'Mac Apps and Mac App Store' started by cerealito, Jul 15, 2013.

  1. cerealito, Jul 15, 2013
    Last edited: Jul 15, 2013

    macrumors newbie

    Nov 26, 2012
    toulouse, FR
    Dear Forum,

    About 1 month ago my dad came to me with this odd problem: many of his photos on his iPhoto library were shown in the thumbnails but when you clicked on them, the actual photo would not show up. A big, gray exclamation mark would be displayed instead.

    I googled the problem and I found a couple of posts of people with similar problems. Apparently iPhoto can sometimes lose its structure and you may need to "repair" or "rebuild" the library. No big deal - I said. I followed the advice in the posts and made a copy of the whole iPhoto Library folder "just in case". (step 1)

    I restarted iPhoto (while holding alt+cmd) and tried every single repair option without success.
    I started to worry a bit more.

    - "show in finder" option will not work for the lost photos.
    - I tried using spotlight with a name of a lost file but it will only get me thumbnails or previews, not the original file.
    - I finally used the terminal and browsed around a bit:

    For what I get there's a MASTERS directory at the root of the iPhoto library that contains subdirectories named after the year of import, so for example I have folders MASTERS/2012 and MASTERS/2013

    Judging by the photos that I'm missing, there should have been a MASTERS/2011 directory that is now gone. This should represent about 4Gb worth of data.

    Solving my problem now:

    1. Do you guys see anything that I could have missed? Do I have any hope to find my original photos somewhere else in the hard disk?
    2. Otherwise, could someone recommend a good data recovery software (ideally free or not very expensive)?

    Unfortunately even specialized software might be unable to recover my photos as I made a huge copy of the iPhoto library at
    step 1.

    Preventing disaster from happening again:
    Backups of course. But in order to avoid repeating such an unpleasant experience I need to understand what exactly happened and why. Is the drive damaged? Do I have a virus infection?
    Is there a way to accidentally erase a whole MASTERS directory from iPhoto?
    Is iPhoto simply SO unreliable?

    thanks a lot for reading, hopefully someone can help me out here.

    PS. I'm using iPhoto 9.1.5 on a 2011 imac with Lion
  2. macrumors regular

    Aug 14, 2008
    Vermont, USA
    Same Problem Here!

    I, too, am interested in the cause of this problem and it's solution. The appearance of the "big, gray exclamation mark" after clicking a thumbnail seems random and not associated with a particular event in my iPhoto 08 and in its recent updating to iphoto 11.
  3. thread starter macrumors newbie

    Nov 26, 2012
    toulouse, FR
    Macmonter, go check your MASTERS folder inside your iPhoto library.

    after some discussions in the apple support forums https://discussions.apple.com/message/22489778?ac_cid=op123456#22489778

    I've come to the conclusion that this is most probably me a software bug.
    If you can't find your original files in the MASTERS directory you better start looking for a data recovery software.

    I will try a couple my self and tell you.

    Also, I will start using something other than iPhoto, i can't trust this software anymore.
  4. macrumors regular

    Aug 14, 2008
    Vermont, USA
    Thank You

    Thank you, Cerealito, for your reply. I searched my Masters folder and the exclamation point pic is missing. What's unusual is that the pic was one in a group of pics taken at the same event and filed within the same album/event as the others that are still viewable. The only explanation I have is that I somehow erroneously deleted that pic, but I would have expected the thumbnail also to be deleted.
  5. macrumors 6502

    Sep 1, 2010

    I agree with your assessment that iPhoto cannot be trusted. I too have lost many a photo due to the weird sync process between devices where photos are overridden.

  6. macrumors regular

    Aug 6, 2008
    I know this doesn't help NOW, but this is the reason I use a referenced library. I don't have to worry about iPhoto (or in my case Aperture) taking control of my photos and screwing something up. I can store them wherever I want and I can easily back them up.

    I'm sure you have already thought of this, but did your Dad happen to have time machine enabled?
  7. thread starter macrumors newbie

    Nov 26, 2012
    toulouse, FR
    super late reply but I think it's worth discussing.
    Hello musukosan, do you think a referenced library is more thrustworthy than the 'default' (non-referenced) ???
  8. macrumors regular

    Aug 6, 2008
    I do. When you use a referenced library your original pictures remain intact. iPhoto doesn't store them in a database. So if something happens to the database, then I don't loose my photos. Keep in mind, though, that any edits you do to the photo in iPhoto are still stored in the database so you can loose those if something goes wonky. Unless you export the photo after it's been edited.
  9. macrumors 65816


    Apr 13, 2011
    If you're looking for files that may be hidden in odd places, get yourself a copy of Find Any File or Easy Find. Apple's Spotlight, and even Finder search are not only cranky, they exclude too many folders from search results to be useful when you really want to know if something still exists on your hard drives.

Share This Page