How Can I Save an Alias File as an actual Photo?

Discussion in 'Mac Apps and Mac App Store' started by clay238, Dec 13, 2011.

  1. clay238 macrumors newbie

    Dec 13, 2011
    I don't understand how the iphoto system works.

    I have upgraded to version '11.

    For some reason it seems I have a lot of photos that when I click on them it says it can't find them. If I understand correctly, these are considered "alias" photos....

    First of all, if the actual photos don't exist, why did it keep the alias photo.

    Secondly, I have lost the external drive that I believe these aliases are looking for.

    Sadly many of these are of my wife of 32 years who passed away recently from cancer.

    Is there any, any, any way to save these aliases to become any kind of photo I can open up and save?

    Thank you for any help you might be able to give me.

  2. Mal macrumors 603


    Jan 6, 2002
    The "photos" you see in iPhoto are simply references pointing to wherever the library is stored. If you didn't change any settings, then they are stored in your home folder, not on an external drive. If this is the case and you can still view them in iPhoto, they are still there, and you can drag and drop them from iPhoto to anywhere else on your computer if you want to use them for some purpose. If you changed the default settings in iPhoto such that it was using your external drive to store the photos, then no, they are lost. Hopefully you didn't do that.

  3. Dave Braine macrumors 68040

    Dave Braine

    Mar 19, 2008
    Warrington, UK
    That is the danger when not selecting the option to Copy to iPhoto Library in iPhoto Preferences.
  4. warvanov macrumors 6502a

    Oct 13, 2011
    I haven't used iPhoto a lot, so I don't know if this is 100% accurate. When importing pictures iPhoto creates a thumbnail. It's a small, low res version of the image that iPhoto displays to make it smoother and faster to scroll through hundres of photos in your library.

    It sounds like when importing these photos into iPhoto they weren't moved from your external hard drive, but the thumbnails were created and stored in the iPhoto library. Unfortunately, if they weren't backed up in another location then they may be lost.

    A few questions:

    1) Have you run a Time Machine backup at all on your system at any point? Even an old backup might have some of these photos.

    2) When you say the external drive in question is lost, do you mean that you are physically not able to find it? If so, do whatever you can to track it down. Or did the drive itself fail? You might be able to take it somewhere that does data recovery on damaged drives. This might cost a few hundred bucks but you might be able to recover at least some of the pictures.

    3) Finally, there's a slim chance that the photos are right where they should be but iPhoto has just forgotten how to find them. Something similar has occassionally happened to me in iTunes. Use the Finder to navigate to where the photos should be, or start with a photo that isn't missing and click "Reveal in Finder" (I believe it's a menu option but I'm not in front of my Mac right now to know exactly where.)

    If all else fails, you should be able to find these thumbnails in the Finder and at least have low res versions of these pictures that you can back up and save. They might not look great when printed out but at least it's something.
  5. warvanov macrumors 6502a

    Oct 13, 2011
    Ok, I'm back at home and maybe I can provide a little more help.

    One thing you can do is to go to your Pictures folder in your <username> folder and right-click on the iPhoto Library and select "Show Package Contents." Inside you'll find a number of files and folders. You're going to be concerned with Masters, Previews and Thumbnails.

    The folders are arranged by the date that they were imported into iPhoto. For instance, photos imported on November 5th will be in the folder Masters > 2011 > 11 > 5 > subfolder > photo001.jpg

    Scour through these folders to find whatever you can. If you are able to find preview or thumbnails for the missing photos then you can look in the corresponding location in the Masters folder for those photos. If you can't find the Masters (i.e. the full resolution versions of those photos) then you can at least save the previews or thumbnails. (I'm honestly not sure of the difference between preview and thumbnail at this point.)

    One thing to be careful of is don't remove photos from these folders or move things around at all as this may cause additional problems for finding your pictures within iPhoto. An easy way to make a copy of the photos that you do find is to hold the Option key and drag the photo to the desktop.

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