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Learn iPhoto Week: Genius Bar

In the climactic final Learn iPhoto Week post, we answer all your questions about iPhoto, whether you're having a problem or just want to know a little more.

iPhoto for Mac and iPad

It’s the end of Learn iPhoto week, and we hope that the posts over the last seven days have been helpful. However, if we haven’t covered something that you particularly wanted to know, or if you are having a problem with one specific part of the app on either iPad or Mac, this is where we can help you.

iPhoto for Mac and iPad

We’ve put together a few questions that we received this week through emails and tweets, and if you want some answers yourself all you need to do is comment below and we’ll get back to you and hopefully help you to solve the problem. We’ll deal with everything from the trivial to the complex, so don’t be afraid to ask away, whatever your problem is. Of course you can still email us if you prefer at, or Tweet us @iCreateMagazine or post on our Facebook wall.

For now, let’s dive straight into the questions:

Hi iCreate,

My iPhoto library is getting really large, but I have a lot if time invested in organizing my library (faces, events, places, etc.) Is it possible to move my iPhoto library to an external hard drive and still be able to use all of the functionality on my iMac? I don’t want to lose all of my organization.

Thanks and love the magazine,

Michael Vaughn

Hi Michael, thanks for your email. There is indeed a simple solution to your problem. If you open Finder and open your user folder, you will see a folder called Pictures. Click this and inside you will see a file called iPhoto Library. This file contains your whole library, including all the organisation that you’ve spent so long putting together. If you drag this file onto your external hard drive it will copy all of this data over.

Once you’ve done this you will need to rename the original file to stop iPhoto automatically opening it up when you open the app. Head back into the Pictures folder and rename the iPhoto Library file to something along the lines of iPhoto Library.old. Now open iPhoto and you will see a dialogue box appear, asking you which library you want to use. Choose the one you just copied onto the external drive, which should still be called iPhoto Library.

We’d advise you to wait for a few weeks to make sure everything is running smoothly before you delete the original iPhoto Library from your Pictures folder, and bear in mind that it’s always worth keeping a backup of that file just in case your External Drive dies for some reason.

Also note that if you place your library on an external drive, it will need to be connected every time you want to use iPhoto. If you regularly disconnect the drive this may not be a great plan!


I wanted to reinstall iLife and now I don’t access to iPhoto anymore, what can I do ? Have I lost everything? The iPhoto library is still there, but with a white icon. iPhoto has a sign on it saying I can’t open it.

@_Bene_B via Twitter

First of all, DON’T PANIC! The first thing you should do is make a copy of the iPhoto Library file in your Pictures folder. It can be copied to anywhere, even the desktop, but make sure you have a back-up of the file before going any further. Then, try installing iLife again from the disk or downloading it again from the Mac App Store (depending on how you got hold of the app). This will almost certainly solve the problem with iPhoto itself, and the iPhoto Library file should then correctly open as before. If not, replace the file with the back-up you made and try again. We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again – keeping a backup of the iPhoto Library file is really important if you value your photos.


Hi guys, I’m using iPhoto on the iPad and having a few problems with my photo libraries. When I view my photos using the album view or through Events etc I have no problem, but when I choose Photos there are about 8 versions of every image! Why are there so many copies of my photos floating around on my iPad, and how can cut them down so I don’t have to scroll through thousands of images every time I enter this view?



Hi Claire,

Thanks for your email, oddly enough we’re actually having exactly the same problem! The issue arises because of the way the Photos app works. When you take a photo it is saved into the Camera Roll by default, but if you have Photo Stream switched on (which we’re assuming you do) then it will also be added to that album automatically. Adding those photos to Album within the Photos app will duplicate them again. We’re thinking that the rest of the versions come from either the edits we’re making in the Photos app, or the edits we’re making iPhoto itself. Because the app is ‘non-destructive’ when it comes to editing, it saves the original image alongside the edited version so that if you want to, you can go back to the original at any time. The result is a splintering of an image into tens of versions, all almost exactly the same. The only real way to remove them from iPhoto is to delete them in some locations on your iPad, whether they’re from Albums, your Camera Roll or just the Photos section of the Photos app. Depending on where you delete them from in the Photos app you will be asked whether you want them to be deleted from the specific place you’re viewing, or from everywhere on the iPad – pick and choose where they’re deleted from and hopefully the number of duplicates will dwindle.


Hello! Congratulations for the work you have been developing. iCreate has helped me greatly improve my Mac and better understand some applications. Recently my iPhoto has given me problems and I do not realize what is happening. When I double click a photo it does not appear … or rather the background is black and only the zoom window appears. How to solve this? I’ve done a restoration of the library, but the problem remains. Thanks and good job.


Gonçalo Zarco


Hi Gonçalo,

Thanks for getting in touch. Your problem is a strange one! We haven’t come across this one before, so we’ll do our best to help. First of all, open the event so that you can see all the photos in a grid (as in the first screenshot above). Choose a photo and drag it out of iPhoto, onto the desktop. It should copy it to the desktop. Try viewing this image with Preview. If it works, we know at least that the photos themselves aren’t broken, and that it’s a problem with iPhoto.

We assume you’ve tried zooming in and out on the photo? Try pressing 0 to view the entire image. Also check the photo information – it shouldn’t be corrupted but if it is that may be the cause of the problem. From what you said we assume that wasn’t happening to any photos before, but now affects your entire photo library?

At this stage if nothing has worked, the best way to work this out is a clean install of iPhoto. Back up your iPhoto library to your desktop (as detailed above in our answer to Michael) and re-install iPhoto from either the iLife disc you have, or the Mac App Store. The iPhoto Library file should be fine throughout this process – the backup is just a precautionary measure – so try opening it again after reinstalling iPhoto.

Sorry we can’t give a more definitive answer, but we aren’t really sure what the problem is without some more information. If you want to get back to us with some more info, and update us with your progress, we’d love to hear from you!