Where are Apple Photos stored?

Ever wondered where Apple Photos stores photos on your Mac? You most likely have, as these images are not found on your system as regular files.

The reason you can’t access Photos app photos as normal files is that they’re stored inside the gallery file. These files don’t work like regular folders, so you can’t access them directly to view your photos.

However, there are ways to access the contents of these libraries, move these Apple Photos libraries to other locations like an external drive, and even change and create new libraries.

Apple Photo Library Location

Unless you or someone else has changed the path, you’ll find the Apple Photos library on the following link on your Mac. You need to replace username with your username to access the library.

/ User / / Picture /

Go to folder

You will see an entry named Photo library in that directory. That’s the Photos app’s library for your pictures, and that’s where Apple’s photos are stored. It contains the entire collection of photos you see in the Photos app.

How to back up photos from Apple’s photo library

One of the ways to export photos from Apple’s Photos library is to use the Photos app itself. There is an option that allows you to export photos from your library to any location on your Mac or external drive.

However, if you don’t want to go that route for some reason, there’s another way to view and back up certain photos from your Apple Photos library. This method doesn’t require you to open the Photos app at all.

  1. Go to the following path using seeker to access your Apple Photos library.

    / User / / Picture /

  2. Don’t double-click the gallery or it will open in the Photos app. Instead, right click on it and choose the option that says View Package Contents. It will allow you to see what’s inside the library.
Show Package Contents in the right-click menu
  1. You will find several folders inside the library file. Find the folder with the contents Master and double click to open it.
Main folder in Photo Gallery
  1. You’ll see different folders for your photos. These are the folders where your gallery photos are stored, and you can open any of these folders to access and view your photos.
Contents in the Master folder
  1. When you find the photos or photos that you want to back up, right-click them and select Copy.
Right click on the selected menu Copy
  1. Open the folder where you want to save the picture, right-click any empty space and select Paste Item.
Right click on the selected menu Paste Item

This method allows you to use images in Apple’s Photos library like regular files on your Mac.

Change Apple Photo Library Location

If your Photos library is taking up too much memory space on your Mac, you can move it to an external drive and save space on your machine. Your library will continue to function as it is.

You can also delete libraries from folder to folder on your Mac using this method.

  1. Access your Apple Photos library at the following location on your Mac.

    / User / / Picture /

  2. Right click on the library file named Photo library and choose Copy Photo Gallery.
Right click on the menu selected Copy Photo Gallery
  1. Navigate to the folder you want to move your library to on your Mac or external hard drive, right-click anywhere on your desktop, and select Paste item.
Paste Item into right-click menu
  1. Once the gallery is completely copied, double click on this copied library file and it will open in the Photos app. The app now knows you’ve changed your library location and this will reflect in the app preferences panel.
  2. Once you have confirmed everything works with the newly migrated library, you can delete the old library file. Go to the following directory using seeker on your Mac.

    / User / / Picture /

  3. Find your library file, right click on it and select Move to Trash.
Right click on the Move to Trash menu
  1. Right click on Garbage icon and select Empty the trash to remove duplicate library for good.
Menu Empty Trash

Use other libraries in Apple Photos

Apple Photos gives you the freedom to open and work with any library on your Mac or other drives. The only thing you need to do is select the gallery you want to open while launching the Photos app and that’s all.

  1. Click Launchers in the Dock and search Picture application. The application has not been launched.
Spotlight Search Photos app
  1. Press and hold Right to buy on your keyboard and click on the app.
  2. You’ll get a prompt asking which library you want to open with the app. Click the button that says Other Libraries to select a library to load in the app.
Other libraries are marked in Choose a library
  1. Select the library file anywhere on your Mac or external hard drive and it will open in the Photos app.

Create a new gallery in Apple Photos

You may sometimes experience an issue where the Apple Photos app refuses to load your default library. This can happen due to many reasons, but a common reason is that your library file is corrupted.

If that happens, you can create a new library and launch the application successfully.

  1. Press and hold Right to buy on your keyboard and click Picture app in Launchpad to open it.
Spotlight Search Photos app
  1. Click Create new to create a whole new gallery of your photos.
Create new in the Select Library window
  1. On the following screen, enter a name for your library in Save as Please select a folder where you want to save the library from Where drop down menu and finally click ALRIGHT to create a library.
Save As dialog box

Define specified system library in Apple Photos

To use features like iCloud Photos, Shared Albums, and My Photo Stream, you need to define a specified system library in Apple’s Photos app. If you do not do that and you try to access these features, you will receive a message that resembles the following.

iCloud for Photos features are only available in the System Photo Library

The good thing is that you can set any of your libraries as the default system library.

  1. Press and hold Right to buy on your keyboard and click Picture application.
The Photos app in the Spotlight Search window
  1. Select the sub-library that you want to set as the default library and click Choose a library. The library you selected will open in the app.
Select the Gallery button with Gallery 2 selected in the Choose Library window
  1. Click Picture in the top left corner of the screen and select the option that says Interests.
Options in the Picture menu
  1. Click Shared at the top if you’re not there already.
  2. You will find a button that says Use as System Gallery. Click on it and it will make your current library the default system library for the Photos app.
Use as System Gallery in General window

Now that you know where Apple Photos are stored, what do you plan to do with your photos? Will you move them to a new location like an external hard drive or cloud storage? We’re curious to know in the comments below.

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