iPhoto - orphaned files - repointing links - lost photos - exclamation mark etc

Discussion in 'Mac Apps and Mac App Store' started by spiketrain, Jun 4, 2009.

  1. spiketrain macrumors newbie

    Dec 3, 2008
    Edinburgh, Scotland
    So I browsed the threads on this and many sites before I thought I'd report back on my day with iPhoto - just so that those of you out there can benefit.

    Basically, and for those noobs that don't know the gen, iPhoto and iTunes both have an interface that work on showing you what you have by way of thumbnail or album sleeve image - then, upon selecting, linking your requirement to see or listen to the actual file itself buried somewhere else.

    This is a great system for a number of great reasons - that is until your links break. You see a thumbnail of a picture of uncle Bob you want to see so you double click it. You are rewarded not with a high rez image of Bob but instead a rather unimaginative and rude exclamation mark (exclamation point for you Americans). The link is broken - you have an orphaned file. It might not be lost or deleted - in fact it is probably still somewhere on your machine or external drives etc.

    This normally happens because you have changed something in your file structure by renaming a folder or moving a file or group of files. For example, if you edit a picture file saved somewhere in a program other than iPhoto, then, quite often you will find that iPhoto no longer recognizes it and needs it re-pointed - a chore which can have nasty consequences if you are using the rather nice face mapping software (iPhoto 09) and/or the image belonged to a group of specific albums. This is data which you can lose very easily.

    The kind of person who this is most likely to happen to is someone like me. That is, a computer savvy bohemian who is always on the move and is changing external drives, computers and tidying various structures all the time.

    Also, before the invention of iPhoto, us restless types probably already had a neat directory of saved images in a nested set of logical folders. These folders might have been named with searchable and useful information identifying individual events and helping to tag images that are otherwise simply called DSC00344 or whatever. What I'm saying here is that, though iphoto has got some great ways to manage and sort pictures, you have started using iPhoto years ago, and not immediately wanted the program to rename and sort all your previous hard work.

    I was one of these people. Apple rather generously allow people like me their file sorting freedom by providing a check box under advanced options in preferences. it is labeled "copy the items to the iphoto library". This means, once you uncheck it, that you can keep your directory tree and nested folders where they are and just have iPhoto point to them. My advice to you (now with long suffering hindsight) is to never uncheck this box! Let iPhoto do its job and make sure you do all your labelling and tidying inside the app.

    One of my iPhoto libraries consisted of a hotch potch of hundreds of various imports, over the years, some with the box checked and others without.

    When I was using both Macs and PC and sharing images across two laptops and PC networked NAS and about 8 different firewire drives, it kind of made sense.

    iPhoto had no broken links and I was happy.

    When I then tried to consolidate and tidy the library whist moving it from a firewire external drive to a new mac, I realized the folly of my ways!

    There is the official option to rebuild your library. If you close iPhoto then hold down cmd and alt and then click on the app it will pop up a box with some repair options (don't release the cmd and alt buttons until this box appears). These options might work for you - they didn't for me.

    What iPhoto (and iTunes) are both missing is a proper automated repair service for orphans. Since the alias files contained in the iPhoto library contain a thumbnail of the original as well as file size, file type, filename and the location where it at least expected to find the image before it was moved or altered, it really should be able to do a "Spotlight" kind of search to re-point the image without troubling the user too much. It's an obvious oversight in these programs and I have no idea what Apple think they are doing here!

    My story is that I copied over the iPhoto library (containing some images and, I think ALL the peripheral data) as well as all the pictures still in their corresponding directories and nested folders into one place on my new hard drive of my new Mac Pro.

    I wiped the original firewire drive (that had originally been formatted MS dos) and reformatted it as OSX journalled. I then returned all my folders and files back to the same drive - but attached it to the new Mac Pro. The drive name and directory tree etc were exactly the same as before. It was of course a gamble at this point!

    iPhoto was not happy and orphaned all the files that were stored outwith the library file.

    I did a rebuild by doing many of the fix options (the holding down cmd/alt thing above) but my files remained unlinked. Why does this NOT work?

    In desperation one night (after many web searches) I opened the first pic thumbnail file in the whole image db. It returned the exclamation mark and asked if I wanted to locate it myself. I did so, and manually re-pointed this one image back to the master file which was in a separate folder right where I thought iPhoto would expect to find it (but obviously didn't). I don't know why I did this - since I had no intention of manually repointing all 10,000 or so other pix in the library. At this point however, and I have no idea how or why, this was the jog it needed and it immediately and with no fanfare of any kind, re-pointed all other orphans and broken links across the entire huge library. Phew! Lucky!

    So onto where you are now - I am working on various methods of work arounds so that I can first re-build an album that was previously made up of many different file sources into one library file whilst maintaining all the important peripheral library and album data. Then I will migrate the album properly so that I don't rely on the firewire drive - which I think there are plenty of threads on already.

    Really - apart from the general education that I have laid out here to the poor lost souls in iPhoto world, the main thing for you to know is that you really shouldn't un-check the box to leave your images outwith iPhoto if you ever intend to change, move or export the core data or images.

    I know I took a long time to say this - but perhaps the longwinded report may also serve to prevent legwork to others who are desperately Google searching what to do with crooked iPhoto libraries.

    I have yet to achieve this consolidatory migration. I will check back when I do. Sure you're very excited!


  2. mrkgoo macrumors 65816

    Aug 18, 2005
    A reason why I tell people that to copy to iPhoto Library is the only way to go. Much less headaches. When I switched over to iPhoto from using my own structure, of course it was a huge effort to restructure, reorder, and re tag (and I have subsequently redone it every time iPhoto adds a new feature), but it's worth it. The more you wait, the more that needs to be done.

    I have had very few issues with iPhoto, and I have a reasonable organisation flow within it.
  3. skybolt macrumors 6502a

    Feb 20, 2005
    Nashville, TN, USA
    I agree! I have never understood users that make so much extra work for themselves! The software (at least for the mac) is created so that the life of the user is easier. Let the apps do their jobs! That is one of the best things macs have going for them, rather than windows. Sit back and let the app do it for you! :p
  4. yoak macrumors 65816


    Oct 4, 2004
    Oslo, Norway
    Thanks for this post. I will try it if the rebuilding of my library dosen´t work.
    I get the exclamation marks when clicking my jpegs, but the RAW version of the same image still has the link.
    I think this happened when I started trying out Light Room and imported some files from iPhoto.
    I made alias of my original iPhoto folder, but this didn´t seemed to have left the structure untouched.
    Never had problems with iPhot before, but now I have started palying with different softwware (Aperture and LR) it´s not such a smooth ride anymore
  5. bikerwannabe macrumors newbie

    Jul 7, 2009
    I should probably start a new thread, but this one seems very relevant so I'll try here first.

    I too am new to MAC and have used both a managed library and a referenced one. I NOW understand that is not a good thing. I'm trying to get a new plan going forward BEFORE I fix all my errors.

    My QUESTION / ISSUE: I want to store my photos on an external drive and use the entire library of photos on BOTH my MAC and my PC. (I have PC for work and home and MAC for personal use only.)

    If I store my iPhoto library and all the files on the external drive- will the PC be able to access them?
    If not- do I need to maintain TWO libraries? And if so - how can access any photos I edit using iPhoto from my PC?

    (fyi- reason I STLL need to access on PC - 1) not allowed to attach any non company hardware to work network, printers, etc. 2) have software on PC that is not available for MAC)

    Hope all of you smart folks can help me get a new plan before I make thinsg any worse:)
  6. rugbygreg macrumors newbie

    Sep 20, 2009
    iphoto deleted all my existing photos

    I was uploading new photos into iphoto and selected delete originals on camera memory card. The upload worked fine but all the existing photos already in iphoto were deleted! They are not in trash and I can't find them. Help!

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