Newbie?: IPhoto verses Picasa storage question


macrumors newbie
Original poster
Dec 4, 2009
Obviously I'm a newbie to Mac - had it all of two days now and am trying to understand the basics of IPhoto - which seems like a really cool program.

My question is this: I store all my photos on an external server / hard drive accessible to multiple computers with our family. When I import them into IPhoto, am I actually copying them onto my Mac (thereby having two copies of my photos - one on the external HD and one on my Mac) or is it like Google's Picasa that just stores thumbnail info for organizing, etc?

Also, I like to use Adobe Photoshop Elements to edit, play with the photos, and thus, when I save a changed copy of the photo to this external hard drive (while keeping the original), do I then need to import the copy over to IPhoto or does IPhoto have a scanning feature similair to Picasa that will scan the drive and pick up new additions?



Moderator emeritus
Aug 16, 2005
iPhoto is copying the images. Picasa won't. That's the primary reason I don't use iPhoto.


macrumors 68000
Mar 20, 2009
Near London, UK.
iPhoto is copying the images. Picasa won't. That's the primary reason I don't use iPhoto.
You can set iPhoto up not to copy the images, but just to refer to them in their original locations, its a single checkbox somewhere.
However, given your requirements for multiple users to access I'd say Picasa would be the way to go. I have just got PSE8 and its a bit of a PITA to edit out of iPhoto with it, I suspect it would be easier if you are using Picasa (though I dont use that), because iPhoto doesn't have the scanning feature you mention, you have to explicitly import a photo into it (even if that import is just a reference to an external location)


macrumors 6502a
Aug 9, 2008
New Zealand
Just remember that if you use Picasa you are handing over all the rights to your photos etc to Google.
Check their Terms and Conditions.
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