Understanding how "Pictures" folder works

Discussion in 'macOS' started by kwhitenton, Jan 13, 2012.

  1. kwhitenton macrumors newbie

    Jun 17, 2009
    I'm hoping someone can help me understand how image files/folders work on Mac OS.

    -Bought a macbook a couple of years ago, moved all my stuff over from a PC, imported most (maybe all) of my pictures into iphoto.
    -Since then, uploaded many new pictures from an iphone (synced to iphoto) and a digital camera (uploaded to a pc then transferred to mac, saved in random different locations, some imported to iphoto).
    -Now: computer is on it's last legs, so trying to get organized to back everything up to the cloud.

    It appears I have two pictures folders in two different locations:

    Users/(username)/Pictures which is 22 GB
    Users/(username)/Documents/My Pictures which is 3 GB

    I want to consolidate and get rid of "My Pictures" - not even sure why this exists, maybe it's a holdover from my PC data transfer?

    Found a folder that is duplicated in both, so I deleted it from "my pictures." But when I did that, the folder also disappeared from the "pictures" folder.

    ???? if these are two different folders, why does deleting something from one affect the other??? even if I rename one, they are still somehow linked and changing one affects the other. sometimes I really hate apple.

    here's a screenshot of the folders I am talking about - called "a Few recent pics":


    I also discovered that the folder called 'august' in "my pictures" - this folder is not listed in "pictures" but if I search for the image name it shows up there.

    So my question is:
    -How does this 'my pictures' folder relate to the 'pictures' folder?
    -how can i get rid of "my pictures" without losing anything or creating a lot of duplicates?
    -where do the pictures in my iphoto library actually live, the ones i transfer directly there from my iphone? (there's an iphoto icon in the "Pictures" folder but it just launches the application. I want to actually see the files and know where they are, how big they are, so I can back them up and potentially transfer them to a non mac system.

    any advice is much appreciated!
  2. smirk macrumors 6502a


    Jul 18, 2002
    Orange County, CA
    Hi there.

    Well first of all, the photo you posted isn't viewable unless you have a Dropbox account, which I don't. So I'm not sure if I'm understanding everything you wrote.

    /Users/<you>/Pictures is the folder that gets automatically created when you create a new user account in OS X. Likewise for /Users/<you>/Documents.

    /Users/<you>/Documents/My Pictures is something you added. You probably made a copy of your My Pictures folder from your Windows PC and placed it there.

    OS X has a concept called an alias, which is similar to a Shortcut in Windows. I'm wondering if you have an alias to your Documents/My Pictures folder inside of your Pictures folder, or vice versa. Do you have any icons with a little arrow in the lower left hand corner? This is the only thing I can think of, within the realm of what you could have done, that would "link" these two folders together. This is not a normal occurrence, so something funky is happening here, or perhaps you got confused with all the files and folders and simply thought that deleting a folder from one also removed it from the other.

    Why don't you post some screenshots somewhere where we can see them, and we'll take it from there? Oh, also, iPhoto stores all of its photos and data inside of a file called "iPhoto Library" in the Pictures folder.

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