Take the 2-minute tour ×
Ask Different is a question and answer site for power users of Apple hardware and software. It's 100% free, no registration required.

I took a picture to add to my account on Mac.

Now I want to use it on messenger, but I can't find it. On the account config, it's too small. I need to find the original.

Where are the accout pictures stored on a Mac?

share|improve this question

migrated from superuser.com Mar 21 '12 at 15:56

This question came from our site for computer enthusiasts and power users.

8 Answers 8

up vote 44 down vote accepted

Mac OS X 10.5+ stores user's account pictures within the Directory Service with the exception of an account that has not modified their user picture from when first created. When first created an account contains a 'Picture' attribute in their user record that is a path to the image in question. This can be read using the dscl command (dscl . -read /Users/short_username Picture).

If a user has modified their user picture at any time the account picture (aka cropped version if appropriate) is stored in the 'JPEGPhoto' attribute of their user record.

Original files can be found at /Library/User Pictures if you're looking for an Apple provided picture, while your personal original files should be found at ~/Library/Images/iChat Recent Pictures/. If the files are ever removed from the iChat Recent Pictures folder it will not affect your user account's image whatsoever.

If you wish to extract a version of your account picture you can do so by running the following command: dscl . -read /Users/short_username JPEGPhoto | tail -1 | xxd -r -p > /PATH/TO/accountImage.jpg. The resolution can vary depending on the original size of the photo and what version of the operating system you're using when it is saved.

If you are running Mac OS X 10.4, my memory is failing me as I don't recall if the user picture was stored in NetInfo or not.

share|improve this answer
    
Strange, my custom user picture is NOT situated in ~/Library/Images/iChat Recent Pictures. –  Uwe Honekamp Oct 17 '09 at 8:03
    
@Uwe Honekamp - If that folder is ever cleared out it doesn't help as the actual image is stored in the JPEGPhoto attribute of your user record. –  Chealion Oct 17 '09 at 16:55
1  
I used this command: -read /Users/short_username JPEGPhoto | tail -1 | xxd -r -p > /PATH/TO/accountImage.jpg Ty Chealion –  Zote Oct 18 '09 at 1:36
4  
Just go straight to dscl . -read /Users/short_username JPEGPhoto | tail -1 | xxd -r -p > /PATH/TO/accountImage.jpg -- works as advertised, just that you get a 256x256 px version of your account picture. :) –  Marius Butuc Jun 29 '12 at 14:00
1  
@MariusButuc: My home computer gives me a 96x96 px version of a very old picture, but on my work computer it gives me the 512x512 px version of one of Apple's default pictures. I'm unsure what and where decides what sized is actually saved. –  Chealion Jul 5 '12 at 6:23

Take a look in

your account...Library...Images...iChat...Recent Pictures
share|improve this answer

If you click on the icon in the "Accounts" preference page a context menu appears that offers "Edit picture ..." as the top-most option. This opens a dialog that - at least in my case - shows a larger version of my user icon. I guess for the specific purpose of creating a messenger icon it would be feasible to simply screen-shot this picture.

Admittedly, without having the technical background to answer the actual question I'm really not sure whether the actual user icons are stored in a regular file. If this file were located inside your user account (i.e. ˜/Library) the preference page would have to crawl deeply in your account for displaying the icon if another user merely opens the "Account" preference page.

If, OTOH, the file were be stored somewhere in /Library it would probably be difficult to set the icon individually for each user who doesn't have administrator rights. Someone else shed some light on this, please.

share|improve this answer
    
User details are stored in Directory Service (accesible for dscl - .plist files stored at /var/db/dslocal) –  Chealion Oct 17 '09 at 6:22
    
Thanks for the information –  Uwe Honekamp Oct 17 '09 at 8:07

Running Snow Leopard 10.6.8

I have found my captured picture for user login at the following location. Both the original and the cropped were found in ~/Library/Caches/com.apple.iChat/Pictures

share|improve this answer

I found the default pictures in /Macintosh HD/Library/User Pictures

There are six subdirectories under this directory. You can put your own set of pictures in as part of the default collection.

Create a new empty subdirectory with your name and since this is a directory outside your account and can be accessed by any user, you will have to enter your administrator password.

Then copy and paste your pictures to this new subdirectory, again entering your admin password.

Your own pictures should now show up in the default collection. Then you will have to go into the contacts app and change your photo. Then go into the Users and Groups under system preferences and change the photos. To change the photos select edit and then default and then scroll down.

share|improve this answer

On Mac OS X 10.8.2 Mountain Lion, they exist as files that are a mix of jpegs and tiffs on my Mac. Thus, they can be copied to another location.

The full set of user photos are in two different locations. However, the user photo in question, does not necessarily correlate with the respective user folder. So it's a bit quirky.

Look at: Macintosh HD/Users/user0/Library/Images/iChat Recent Pictures/ By 'user0' I refer to the name of the first-defined user on the system (see below context). In this location are 3 user photos, for 3 of my 4 users. 3 jpegs, all good quality. Intriguingly, it is for all users except for user0. The jpegs are called the exact names as follows: 'Recent 1.jpg', 'Recent 2.jpg' and 'Recent 3.jpg'

For user0, this photo is in: Macintosh HD/Library/Caches/ It is a tiff, poor quality. The tiff is called exactly 'com.apple.user501picturecache.tiff'

Importantly, here is the system context to above: - An Apple iMac 20" early 2009 which originally ran Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard - The first-defined user was user0. Nor the name, nor the photo, have been changed. - All other users followed shortly after. Again, nor the names nor, nor the photos, have been changed. - It has been updated with every new Mac OS X when released. - Currently running Mac OS X 10.8.2 Mountain Lion.

Note: When I updated to Lion I recall that the user0 photo did not look so good at login. It looked poorer quality. So something happened there. I expect that Lion rearranged where the photos were and did something to the photos - I have no proof of this, it's just a hunch.

share|improve this answer

I was having difficulty finding the account picture cache on Mountain Lion 10.8.3. They were not found in

~/Library/Caches/com.apple.iChat/Pictures

or

~/Library/Images/iChat Recent Pictures/

Presumably this is because iChat became Messages in Mountain LionSo I used the command line tool fs_usage to find them. By running the command

sudo fs_usage -w | grep .tiff

And then clicking and setting a new account picture you can see the path to the file that is written to disk when you change account pictures.

Turns out that in mountain lion 10.8.3 the recent account pictures have moved to:

   ~/Library/Containers/com.apple.ImageKit.RecentPictureService/Data/Library/Images/Recent Pictures/
share|improve this answer
1  
~/Library/Containers/com.apple.ImageKit.RecentPictureService/Data/Library/Image‌​s/Recent Pictures/ worked for Mavericks –  tolitius Nov 16 '13 at 20:21

That's the way to find it on OS X 10.8.3:

~/Library/Containers/com.apple.ImageKit.RecentPictureService/Data/Library/Images/Recent Pictures/

share|improve this answer
    
No such directory on my 10.8.3 –  Mark May 8 '13 at 9:38
    
@Mark Interesting...following the given path, I do find it on my 10.8.3 –  Buscar웃 May 8 '13 at 10:32
    
I am on a Mac Mini with no camera so picture was copied from a file. I found a copy in /Library/Caches/com.apple.user501pictureCache.tiff –  Mark May 8 '13 at 10:39
    
@Mark – Yes, I think that folder is just for the images taken with camera. –  Wolfango Jul 2 '13 at 14:41

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.