Changing the iPhoto library location

This content is 18 years old. I don't routinely update old blog posts as they are only intended to represent a view at a particular point in time. Please be warned that the information here may be out of date.

Apple iPhoto is one of the iLife applications that ships with Mac OS X to facilitate importing, organising, editing and sharing digital photos. I use Adobe Photoshop for my digital photo work but the integration of iPhoto with Apple Front Row was enough to make me want to look at iPhoto a bit more closely.

By default, iPhoto copies digital photos to a new location in order to work on them, leaving the originals intact (sounds like a good idea to me) but because Mac upgrades are horrendously expensive, my Mac Mini only has an 80GB hard disk (and I take a lot of photos) and I keep my data on a 320GB external hard disk. Unfortunately, there’s nowhere in the application preferences to set the library location but I did find a way around this. By deleting the existing iPhoto library and launching the application, I was prompted to create a new library:

Apple iPhoto

Then, selecting a location on my external hard disk allowed me to set up a new library exactly where I wanted it.

6 thoughts on “Changing the iPhoto library location

  1. Actually, holding Option when launching from Dock will allow you to set or choose any library location you want, and select from multiple libraries at once.

  2. Mark,
    I had been suffering so. My back up hd collapsed (I hadn’t formatted it for a Mac du-uh) and lost a LOT of ipod stuff I thought was also elsewhere.
    Then I installed Keyword Assistant (I’m using Tiger 10.4.9) and it made all my iPhoto library disappear.
    I finally found the right combination of words to use with Google (you need to first say Abracadabra and spin to the left three times :)) and found your blog.
    Thank you. I had re-installed my iphoto library on another drive but could not find out how to re-point iPhoto.
    So tuvm, keep up the great work.

  3. To change the default file store location, go to terminal and type:
    defaults write RootDirectory /path/to/desired/location

    To remove the change default:
    defaults remove RootDirectory

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