Shrinking iPhoto/Photos library

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by ftaok, Jul 13, 2015.

  1. ftaok macrumors 601

    ftaok

    Joined:
    Jan 23, 2002
    Location:
    East Coast
    #1
    Just wanted to share with the community the small project I spent much of last week doing.

    My iPhoto library had gotten too large and messy over the years. I have a 2013 MBA with the 256GB SSD, and my iPhoto library file had grown to 171GB, leaving very little space for anything else. My wife's rMBP (256GB) is in a even worse predicament with a 200GB iPhoto library.

    After a few days of researching, I had decided that I would start splitting my iPhoto library into chunks of years and off-loading older libraries onto external drives and optical media. This was taking forever to do since I'd have to copy the library file several times to chunk it up.

    But since it was taking so long, it allowed me to stumble upon JPEGmini. It works great and can shrink files down to 20% of the original file size.

    But anyways, I was able to shrink all 35,000 photos down and import them into the new Photos.app with a library size of 50GB.

    Here are some things I learned.

    1. iPhoto will mess up your old MPG videos upon export. I don't know what it does, but the file that gets exported requires conversion to view in finder. Luckily, I noticed and was able to find and copy the videos directly from the iPhoto library files that I had backed up.

    2. iPhoto will mess up the "Date Created" on exported video files. This was a PITA to fix, I was able to find where the videos "slot" by the filename and estimate a creation date for each video. I only had about 30 of these old videos.

    3. iPhoto's file structure is so confusing. Especially if you started with very early versions of iPhoto. Somewhere along the line, they swtiched from the "Originals" folder to the "Masters" folder. Turns out, the Masters folder is set up by import sessions. So all photos/videos are put in the same folder per import. It has nothing to do with the actual date of the photo. The take home point here is that you can't go through the Masters folder to pull out, let's say, all photos from 2012. They may be spread out through several folders. You have to use the export function from within iPhoto.

    4. Random files seem to persist in my chunked up iPhoto library files. I have a separate iPhoto library for each year, beginning with 2002. The early files are pretty clean, but the more recent years have files that show up in multiple years. I have no idea why, but it adds to the amount of HDD space used. I don't have a solution for this, and rebuilding the database didn't help.

    5. Don't run your iPhoto library straight through JPEGmini. The photos in the Master folder will be shrunk, but the small and large thumbnails will actually grow in size. I thought this was weird, but since I was going to abandon iPhoto alltogether, I wasn't too concerned with figuring this out.

    5a. However, with my situation fixed, it's time to fix my wife's Mac. She's not interested in switching to Photos, so I'm going to run her Masters folder through JPEGmini to see how much that will help. I will use a test library first to see if it breaks anything in the iPhoto database.

    Anyways, I hope this helps someone who may be in the same situation as I am/was. JPEGmini wasn't free, it's $20, but it beats shelling out $400 for a 512GB SSD, or $250 for a 200GB microSD card.

    ft
     
  2. v3rlon macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2014
    Location:
    Earth (usually)
    #2
    jpg is a well developed, researched, and maintained compression standard for photos. It still sacrifices quality and loses information. If you are compressing them down to 1/5th the size, I would worry about loss of information.

    You mileage may vary, but a 1TB external drive is cheap. Move the library off the system.

    Also, how often do you look at all 35,000 photos? It quite possibly warrants a good pruning. All the other kids at your child's piano recital 8 years ago will probably never be needed again, for example.
     
  3. ftaok thread starter macrumors 601

    ftaok

    Joined:
    Jan 23, 2002
    Location:
    East Coast
    #3
    The concerns you've expressed are valid and I had considered them. Which is why I am keeping a backup of each original photo on an external drive or two. I just won't be keeping them in the iPhoto or photos.app library format. Just a straight dump from the memory card.

    As for the shrinking of the jpegs. The theory goes that a camera, especially older ones, uses the same standard compression for each shot. A computer can scan each file and apply custom compression that's more efficient. Several publications, including Macworld, ran tests and showed that the original files were exactly the same as the shrunk ones. but even if there is some info loss, I still have the back ups.

    And yes, I do need to prune the library to get rid of unwanted pictures.
     
  4. v3rlon macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2014
    Location:
    Earth (usually)
    #4
    The jpeg mini site states "no perceptual loss compared to jpeg" so something is getting lost.
     
  5. ftaok thread starter macrumors 601

    ftaok

    Joined:
    Jan 23, 2002
    Location:
    East Coast
    #5
    I agree that this might not be the best option for critical photos, but for my iPhoto/Photos library, it's good enough. And if I do have heartache over it in the future, I have the originals backed up for safe keeping.

    The only downside is that I'll have to change my workflow a little bit going forward. I think I'll upload using Image Capture into a folder which I'll save for posterity. I'll also shrink those photos down before importing into Photos.

    I'll let my wife do her typical workflow and wait until the following year to shrink the previous year's imports, after backing them up.

    Either way, I think I'm covered and I have all of my photos on my main drive. Maybe, one day, I'll trim my library of the clunkers and random garbage photos, but I've been able to push that day off for a few more years.

    ft
     

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