Optimise Storage and importing more image files into Photos than my hard drive can accomodate

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by smileman, Jan 9, 2017.

  1. smileman, Jan 9, 2017
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2017

    smileman macrumors member

    Oct 23, 2011

    I've dabbled with Lightroom over the last couple years but I think it might be overkill for the amount of editing I do, so I want to give Photos a try.

    I haven't made many edits in Lightroom so I'm not worried about transferring my Lightroom work into Photos. What I am trying to figure out is how best to import all my photo files and utilise Optimise Storage. I have over 200GB of photos, which is more than the space available of my MBP hard drive that I want to edit the photos on. I'd like to take advantage of the Mac/Photos 'Optimise Storage' iCloud feature so that I can edit all my photos even if they aren't all on my laptop hard drive (I realise this will require an internet connection).

    When I try to copy my photos over to my Mac I get a message that my hard drive is full. There is a rather lengthy set of instructions which I believe cover how to import more files than your hard drive can accommodate on iMore -- see the comment by 'johnnydt' to 'Pete': http://www.imore.com/how-save-space-optimized-storage-and-icloud-photo-library.

    Is this the only or best way to accomplish importing all my image files given my hard drive space constraint?

    I would also like to continue to keep my RAW image files organised in individual folders based on period of time/theme (e.g. 2016 daughters's b-day ). Can anyone vouch for how well the below GitHub script works for importing a folder structure into Photos?


    I was also hoping to continue to keep my original RAW image files in folders on a separate drive. Ideally I could keep this drive synced with deletions/edits made on my MBP/iCloud. Is there any way to do that?

  2. Fishrrman macrumors G5


    Feb 20, 2009
    "...importing more image files into Photos than my hard drive can accomodate"

    Get a larger hard drive.

    I don't see any way around this.
  3. MCAsan macrumors 601


    Jul 9, 2012
    Stop using Photos where you can only have one consolidate library/catalog. Use something like Lightroom or Capture One Pro or , Photo RAW that will let you use folders in your file system that can be only any connected drive.
  4. Chancha macrumors 6502a

    Mar 19, 2014
    Unless you find the iOS or iCloud integration of Photos.app an essential feature, otherwise it makes no sense to move to it, especially from Lightroom. The limits you have already encountered is just the beginning, there will be more of them down the road. Cloud storage in general are nice to have for light usages, particularly when you want to sync files over multiple devices, but in the long term it is not an ideal solution for a growing photo library.

    Lightroom may be cluttered for your use case, but if you can put up with it and since you have already paid for it, unless you want to get off the CC subscription then I would suggest to just stick with it. If you are on the latest CC version you can also enjoy the iOS Lightroom Mobile app's cloud sync feature which pretty much behaves like iCloud photo stream for Photos, except with much more functions. If you specifically just want to edit photos off drive, then you can just Lightroom's Smart Preview feature which basically creates a small RAW file, which is a few times smaller than your actual RAW, you can do 90% of possible edittings on the road without access to your RAWs which can be sitting on an external drive at home.
  5. M. Gustave macrumors 68000

    M. Gustave

    Jun 6, 2015
    Grand Budapest Hotel
    iCloud Photo Library is just that, cloud storage and syncing. You upload your photos once, then put the hard drive, SD card, etc, safely away in a drawer somewhere. You don't store anything on your Mac except the thumbnails, and the occasional full size image file during editing, sharing, etc.
  6. MCAsan macrumors 601


    Jul 9, 2012
    No you put your SD back in the camera and format it for the next shooting session.

    You can do the same with any other editing program using Dropbox or storage from any number of online storage companies such as Microsoft and Google. No magic in Photos or iCloud.
  7. M. Gustave macrumors 68000

    M. Gustave

    Jun 6, 2015
    Grand Budapest Hotel
    I was referring to an archive of your photos on an SD card, not a card you use in your camera.

    Who said anything about "magic"? OP is trying to load up his local hard drive before setting up iCloud Photos, and I'm pointing out that it's not necessary.
  8. smileman thread starter macrumors member

    Oct 23, 2011
    Thank you, appreciate the feedback everyone.

    The consensus seems to be to purchase Lightroom (I don't already own it). To be honest, this was not what I was hoping to hear as I would like to reduce my photography costs and take advantage of iOS/Mac integration and sharing.

    Is there no one that will defend the use of Photos? I'm not sure I need the plugins available for Photos but I've read those can help bridge the gap to Lightroom should I desire to take my editing up a notch.
    --- Post Merged, Jan 16, 2017 ---
    Did you look at the comment in the iMore link I included in my original post? That seems to offer a way around limited hard drive space.

    Having said that, the Lightroom thumbnails option does sound like it could be superior.
  9. HDFan macrumors 6502a

    Jun 30, 2007
    What is your backup strategy? Having lost critical photos in the past I have to ask.

    With your lack of space are you planning to just keep the photos in iCloud storage if they aren't on your laptop hard drive? If your photos don't mean anything to you if they are lost then that's fine. If you really don't want to lose them it isn't a great strategy. For photos which you want to keep, like, forever, you want to store them on 3 separate devices (ideally like on-line, disk, tape) in at least two different locations. If two of the devices are disk then the disks should be from different manufacturers.

    What happens if you accidentally delete a photo from iCloud and it isn't on your disk? It's gone. You (heaven forbid) get hit by a car and are in a coma when your iCloud subscription doesn't renew because your credit card was reissued with a new number due to a data breech. Everything is lost.

    The consequence of this would be that you would need at least 2 external hard drives, 1 for storage. So if you have to have the drives you might as use it to handle your lack of space problem.
  10. davybe macrumors member

    Feb 16, 2015
    Not correct. Photos can have any number of Libraries, although only one syncs with iCloud. Also, any photo can be managed (inside Photos) or referenced (stored at your location and Photos simply points to it); only managed photos sync to iCloud.
    --- Post Merged, Jan 17, 2017 ---

    I'll take the Photos "defense" mission here. I understand your needs and you seem to want it all which is good. I suggest to separate your JPG/Photos world your the RAW world.

    To have all your photos in Photos while all don't fit on your drive I advise:
    - Only use JPG files
    - Do not abuse video, they get heavy fast (you can leave them aside first, then come back to them, use H.264 to compress efficiently)
    - Set Photos to 'optimize storage'
    - Import JPGs to Photos in batches but starting very small to test (bad idea to do a full batch the first time...)
    - Let the optimization happen (I do not know how to monitor this)

    Note: instead of importing to Photos you can upload to iCloud.com instead (again, in batches), this will skip the need to import in Photos your full resolution original via your limited drive, and rather if I'm not wrong, it will directly download the optimized version to your Mac!

    Note 2: The reason I advise for JPG is to use Photos with smaller files than RAW, and to leverage Photos where it is stong: browsing, viewing, sharing and making projects out of your 'finished' photos. Once you 'developped' your RAW file into a clean, full res, resulting JPG, there is no true need to carry the heavy RAW for life in Photos, unless you constantly revisit your RAW files.

    Note 3: alternatively, you could totally upload your RAWs directly to iCloud.com and Apple has a potent RAW handling and displays clean images. In that scenario your iCloud storage requirement will be bigger. While there is a cost, it is an attractive option in some cases, like for backup. I believe it remains compatible with 'optimized storage' where that shouldn't use too much of your drive (except when viewing/editing those photos in which case the full original is temporarily downloaded). This also would work with built-in editing and Extensions, and please note that Extensions that are RAW aware become more numerous and interesting (DXO, Luminar, Affinity Photo, Pixelmator, RAW Power just to name a few).

    Note 4: There is no need to bother with making time-based folders to prepare the import to Photos, it will span them on a timeline for you based on their date & time stamps, which I assume are correct (or fix them in LightRoom before moving to Photos). If you want additional metadata to carry from LightRoom (or other software) to Photos, I advise the use of Keywords as they do carry well and let you 'transport' some information with your Photos. After that you can view/edit keywords further in Photos itself. You can then make Smart Albums to find photos based on keywords, date, and much more. Bonus: it also works with Siri on iOS!!

    With that, keep your RAWs with LightRoom (and maybe other RAW software you may want to use some day) relocated on a big external drive for archive (and think of backing up) in the case when you want to go back to the RAW file. And if you do, I'm not aware of a way to push the latest version of your photo back to Photos automatically (and even less the other way around, but that probably matters less), but you could just export it to JPG, use the system shortcut 'add to Photos' and in Photos delete the previous version. Photos CAN detect duplicates (I've seen it do it sometimes) but I do not know if this could help in your case, hopefully yes. You can test this on a few photos to see how it works.


  11. MCAsan macrumors 601


    Jul 9, 2012
    My understanding: A Photos library can not spend more than one volume. You have to pick library to open when you start Photos.

    The libraries in Lightroom, Photo Mechanic, Photo RAW, Capture 1 Pro can span N referenced folders on Y drives.

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