iPhoto library disappeared

Discussion in 'Mac Basics and Help' started by maldesh, Jun 12, 2014.

  1. maldesh macrumors newbie

    Mar 25, 2014
    So today I opened up iphoto and was presented with a box telling me that I had no iphoto library and needed to create one or choose one from the options below...there were no options.

    I searched my computer (including the trash can) for "iphoto" and "library", I also went looking for an "originals" folder on the advice of a google search. I could not find anything. I poked around the iphoto package contents and could not find any trace of my old pictures. I had several years' worth stored in iphoto, it's where I dump all the pictures from my iphone and my digital camera.

    Is there any other option I can use to try to get all my old photos back? I didn't have them saved anywhere else... I don't have Time Machine enabled... I'm afraid this is simply a lost cause and that I've lost every single last one of my photos.
  2. r0k macrumors 68040


    Mar 3, 2008
    I'm sorry to hear this. A similar thing happened to me some years ago. First of all, pick iPhoto Library in Finder and do "Get Info." If the file size is tiny, like only 1 or 2 megabytes, then perhaps everything really is gone. If not...

    Try "show package contents" but this time check every. single. folder. inside iPhoto Libary. The pictures might still be there and the only reason iPhoto can't find them is the xml file that describes them has become corrupt. So whatever you do, DO NOT DELETE YOUR OLD IPHOTO LIBRARY. yet.

    Spend some time combing through it making sure you have looked under every rock. Once you find something, even if the filename is jibberish, go ahead and copy and paste it to a normal finder folder and then use quickview to see what it is. I seem to remember finding folders in iPhoto Library named for events but I can't recall right now if the file names were the same as the names shown in iPhoto or not. In other words, if you have spent some time labeling photos "Aunt Bertha's Birthday", there won't be a file called auntberthasbirthday.jpg in iPhoto Library. There might be a photo called img2299.jpg with metadata in an xml file inside iPhoto Library that says img2299.jpg has label "Aunt Berth's Birthday".

    Only after you have gone through and proven to yourself that iPhoto Library is really and truly empty should you consider deleting it. BTW, if you created a new iPhoto Library, go in Finder and set it to show all files. Then look for an older iPhoto Library and use show package contents to go looking around inside the old one. Basically on OSX, nothing is deleted until you drag it to trash, empty trash and click OK to delete forever. In fact, photos in iPhoto Library have a separate wastebasket that is not emptied when you Empty Trash in Finder your Mac.

    I had this happen once but since I had been keeping things in my own folder structure, I decided to quit trying to resurrect iPhoto Library and I also decided to only use iPhoto for metadata and keep using my folders from now on. Nowadays I manage metadata for almost 500 GB of photos in an iPhoto Library that barely approaches 12 GB (including recent Photostream photos).

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