Clean Install - Photos iCloud Library won't Sync

melymel96

macrumors member
Original poster
Jul 29, 2010
66
5
Did a clean install on my 17 13" MBP. I cannot get iCloud Photo Library to sync. I've tried turning it off/on, reboot, etc. Sometimes it will download and then get stuck. The last time it loaded the low res photos but no albums. The only albums that seem to load are my shared albums.

Anybody have any suggestions?
 

Mayanja

macrumors regular
Jun 30, 2017
202
146
Photos is refusing to download my originals. I don't get it to move. There are major problems with Photos at the moment, if you browse through the iOS threads you will see them but it seems it's happening in macs as well.
 
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melymel96

macrumors member
Original poster
Jul 29, 2010
66
5
Interesting. I don't have it download originals to my iOS devices as my photo library is about 180GB. This is a bit ridiculous on apples part.
 

leventozler

macrumors 6502
Feb 18, 2009
308
106
Open Console and search 'com.apple.cloudphotod.sync.discretionary-when-background'

My 2013 iMac is apparently too hot to sync;

Code:
501:com.apple.cloudphotod.sync.discretionary-when-background:14D29C:[
    {name: ThermalPolicy, policyWeight: 5.000, response: {Decision: Absolutely Must Not Proceed, Score: 0.00, Rationale: [{thermalLevel >= 1}]}}
 ], FinalDecision: Absolutely Must Not Proceed}
 

melymel96

macrumors member
Original poster
Jul 29, 2010
66
5
What command do I run to see that output? I unplugged my laptop from my dual 4K’s and shut it down to cool off. Powered it up, it downloaded all the low res photos. No albums were downloaded and now its stuck on downloading 26,635 Photos. Super frustrating.
- - Post merged: - -

Open Console and search 'com.apple.cloudphotod.sync.discretionary-when-background'

My 2013 iMac is apparently too hot to sync;

Code:
501:com.apple.cloudphotod.sync.discretionary-when-background:14D29C:[
    {name: ThermalPolicy, policyWeight: 5.000, response: {Decision: Absolutely Must Not Proceed, Score: 0.00, Rationale: [{thermalLevel >= 1}]}}
], FinalDecision: Absolutely Must Not Proceed}
What command do I run to get that output?
 

melymel96

macrumors member
Original poster
Jul 29, 2010
66
5
Just open the 'Console.app' and paste the string to the search box.
Thanks. Looks like that error doesnt come up for me. However I think that possibly could’ve been my issue. I unplugged laptop from two 4K screens and shut it down for a while. Seems to be moving slowly but surely. Working off my iPad for the Day I guess. I’ll post an update later.
 

CTHarrryH

macrumors 68020
Jul 4, 2012
2,125
783
Initially photos didn't show up on my MBP when taken on my iPad. Then in photos on my mac I went into files and did and import on something and then photos started showing up on my Mac. Like it needed a nudge to start but once started it continued to sync photos
 

haginile

macrumors member
Dec 13, 2006
52
10
I had this issue and it’s really that – that the thermal threshold is set really low. If I unplug all my external monitors and quit all other apps, that message eventually stops and photos start coming in.

So the answer is that you just leave the computer as idle as possible and be patient.
 

zorinlynx

macrumors 603
May 31, 2007
5,724
7,075
Florida, USA
Some of this problem may also be server-side. Both my Mojave iMac and my Catalina Macbook Pro are syncing photos really slowly. I suspect servers might be overloaded with all the people upgrading to Catalina.
 

bxs

macrumors 6502a
Oct 20, 2007
948
384
Seattle, WA
I'm also having the same issue on my late 2016 15" rMBP13,3 running Catalina build 19A583 (GM). It's so annoying. I can see in my iCloud.com Photos that my iPhone X recently taken photos are syncing up to my iCloud, but not syncing down to my Mac.

I've tried starting/creating a brand new photoslibrary hoping to have all my iCloud photos downloaded to the new library and it does start but after a few minutes it stalls/stops and then nothing at all happens.

This is VERY annoying for me. Just how long should one wait for this syncing to start behaving correctly ?
 

scott_donald

macrumors regular
Nov 2, 2016
130
30
I am having a very similar experience, once they sync'ed fine, then the next time I open Photo on the Mac, nothing happens for 2 days, been on Catalina for a week now.

Trend seems to be syncing first thing in the morning when I turn the computer on. Or last thing at night after not using it for a while. doesn't work when connected to my two LG 5ks.

Must be a very simple fix.
 

melymel96

macrumors member
Original poster
Jul 29, 2010
66
5
I had this issue and it’s really that – that the thermal threshold is set really low. If I unplug all my external monitors and quit all other apps, that message eventually stops and photos start coming in.

So the answer is that you just leave the computer as idle as possible and be patient.
Confirmed. Left my MBP plugged in with no external monitors. Still slower than dirt but its moving. 7K pictures out of 25K to go.
 

Mayanja

macrumors regular
Jun 30, 2017
202
146
Is anyone able to download their photo library? Mine has been stuck for days. I decided to do a fresh install, and have it re-download my photos from the cloud. That isn't working.
 

Super Spartan

macrumors 6502a
Mar 10, 2018
509
219
Dubai
I FIXED THE ISSUE!

I deleted everything from my iCloud photos (I have a backup). Then I turned off Photos sync from my phone, rebooted it, then turned it back on.

Now, neither my phone nor the MacBook had anything! I then started creating albums one by one and adding the photos accordingly to keep things organized and they were synced to the iPhone Photos app instantly in the same order!
 

scott_donald

macrumors regular
Nov 2, 2016
130
30
I FIXED THE ISSUE!

I deleted everything from my iCloud photos (I have a backup). Then I turned off Photos sync from my phone, rebooted it, then turned it back on.

Now, neither my phone nor the MacBook had anything! I then started creating albums one by one and adding the photos accordingly to keep things organized and they were synced to the iPhone Photos app instantly in the same order!
I am scared to do that.

After doing the supplemental update this morning I was hoping it had fixed the issue but it is still there!
 

Mayanja

macrumors regular
Jun 30, 2017
202
146
I think I have found one cause that prevents my Mac from downloading originals: if the amount of free space on your HD is less than your entire photo library in the cloud, it stop syncing. Irrespective of how many photos it has already downloaded.

So in other words, if your library is 50GB, your need 100GB to get it downloaded.

This is in addition to all the other comments above about etc.

I was observing the console log, and was getting `Marking activity with identifier com.apple.cloudphotod.sync.discretionary-when-background as done` messages all the time, which would stop the photo download background task, and this happened every time when the disk space was reaching the size of my photo library.

Would be nice if others could confirm this too...
 

scott_donald

macrumors regular
Nov 2, 2016
130
30
I think I have found one cause that prevents my Mac from downloading originals: if the amount of free space on your HD is less than your entire photo library in the cloud, it stop syncing. Irrespective of how many photos it has already downloaded.

So in other words, if your library is 50GB, your need 100GB to get it downloaded.

This is in addition to all the other comments above about etc.

I was observing the console log, and was getting `Marking activity with identifier com.apple.cloudphotod.sync.discretionary-when-background as done` messages all the time, which would stop the photo download background task, and this happened every time when the disk space was reaching the size of my photo library.

Would be nice if others could confirm this too...

I have 53 photos I am trying to sync, I clean out my photos every month. I keep some memorable ones on the phone.

my photos seemed to align over night again, computer was in sleep mode with the 2x5K monitors attached.

Just deleted 3 photos there from my Mac and they did not update to the cloud.
 

ricosuave

macrumors 6502
Mar 27, 2007
385
12
In front of my mac
I FIXED THE ISSUE!

I deleted everything from my iCloud photos (I have a backup). Then I turned off Photos sync from my phone, rebooted it, then turned it back on.

Now, neither my phone nor the MacBook had anything! I then started creating albums one by one and adding the photos accordingly to keep things organized and they were synced to the iPhone Photos app instantly in the same order!
Nice solution. However I have not found a way to backup Portrait or burst photos. After I import them, they are no longer considered portraits or bursts within my library.
 

lakerchick4life

macrumors 6502a
Oct 14, 2007
807
164
For whatever reason, since catalina, I cannot import new photos to the photos app. I do what I always did before, take my photos from my USB stick, plug it into macbook, open photos app, file, import, it shows the 4 photos I want to import for review, I click that and nothing happens..it just continues to show the photos from October 13th
 

scott_donald

macrumors regular
Nov 2, 2016
130
30
well added the update to the computer and now on 10.15.1 and still my photos library is only syncing when the computer is just turned on.

Last night I was trying to sync and it was just stuck updating whilst I was working on on 5k and the baseball was on a second 4k.

To me it certainly seems heat related as mentioned before.

I have tried starting from scratch with the photos and the problem still exists. I would do a fresh install but I think the problem will still be there. Its annoying as I use the photos app to import then edit photos all the time.
 

exmophie

macrumors newbie
Oct 23, 2019
5
12
Clean install of Catalina 10.15.1 (19B88)
Trying to download all originals from iCloud, as moving the Library volume to my new computer would trigger a total library comparison re-upload; I can't do that since you'd need 2X the library space in iCloud Drive.

  • System uptime: 3 days
  • Downloading 87,898 Originals of 91,976; fast download progress fell off after first couple of hours.
  • Remaining count doesn't go down and downstream is sporadic blips while being next to the router.
  • Library full of Originals totals 640GB on backup volume copy and on iCloud profile.

Workaround to force download of originals:
  1. Under your iCloud profile, find the total size of "Photos and Videos" stored in your iCloud Storage.
  2. Attach a spare external hard drive equal to the total size of that.
  3. Go to your Photos library and hit Command + A to select all items.
  4. Click File > Export > Export Unmodified Originals for XXXXX Photos and dump them to the External Drive
  5. Leave computer running with proper cooling for the next couple of days.
  6. Reformat the External Drive when Export is complete.
Forcing the export of the entire library Originals forces Photos to proactively pull of each Original from iCloud into your Photos Library first before making a dump of unsorted copies into the external drive, the Export function is used as a pawn to trigger this priority thread (console process com.apple.photolibraryd.backgroundjobservice.highpriority).


Happy Halloween. Photos is definitely being spooky with our data. :)
 

exmophie

macrumors newbie
Oct 23, 2019
5
12
While it isn't visible in the app itself, there is something very odd with how Photos is rebuilding Libraries from iCloud in Catalina:

If you drill into "Show Package Contents" and compare to previous library file structures Photos is updating the Masters folder into the "originals" folder with a HEX filing method that is far less human-readable than before (see diagram).

Why does this matter?
If you've ever wanted to port your photo library to Windows, an easy trick was to copy the Photo Library to an NTFS drive, mount it in Windows and Apple had already made Bridge-friendly folder system under the Masters folder for browsing. With this new structure, the original photos must be "processed" by the Photos app Export function to be ported over and the organization can't be foldered by day, but only by generated "Moments".

This feels like a subtle platform lock-in by technical grief.
 

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