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How do I backup a complete iPhoto ('09 version 8.1.2 (424)) library with all its metadata from iPhoto of OSX 10.5.8 and then after a clean new install of the latest OSX 10.8.2 on the same machine, restore that library into the latest (then empty) iPhoto.

Is there a simple tutorial somewhere? Are there any pitfalls I need to watch out for? It would be a real shame if the photos and/or the metadata get lost on the way.

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This is really easy*. But the version of the OS doesn't matter. it's the version of iPhoto that does.

So, if you have iPhoto 6 or earlier:

Go to your Pictures Folder and find the iPhoto Library Folder there

iPhoto 08 or later:

Go to your Pictures Folder and find the iPhoto Library icon there

In either case then drag the iPhoto Library from the Pictures Folder to another Disk. The Disk should be formatted Mac OS Extended (Journaled).

Once that's done test the back up - open it and view the Photos: To choose a Library to open: Hold down the option (or alt) key key and launch iPhoto. From the resulting menu select 'Choose Library'

Assuming the Library is working okay that's the back up part.

Then the restore:

Drag the Library from the External back to the Pictures Folder. Then Hold down the option (or alt) key key and launch iPhoto. From the resulting menu select 'Choose Library' and point iPhoto at the Library in Pictures.


*Easy that is unless you have a referenced Library. A Referenced Library is when iPhoto is NOT copying the files into the iPhoto Library when importing because you made a change at iPhoto -> Preferences -> Advanced. (You unchecked the option to copy files into the Library on import) The files are then stored where ever you put them and not in the Library package. In this scenario you are responsible for the File Management. 

IF you have a Referenced Library then you have a much more complex job. You'll need to convert it to a Managed one, and the do the steps above.

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I have iPhoto '09 version 8.1.2 (424) – bitbonk Oct 25 '12 at 21:04
Then it comes under the heading of iPhoto 08 or later... – terrydev Oct 26 '12 at 14:40

iPhoto library is (at least at user level) self-contained database file. So just copy it over.

And second: it doesn't matter which version of OS X you have since it's not bundled with OS. It's bundled with hardware. So maybe you will not be able to install your hardware supplied version of iPhoto on new system. Maybe you'll have to buy it from App Store.

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The iPhoto Library is only a self-contained element if the User is running a Managed Library, it's not so in the case of a Referenced one – terrydev Oct 26 '12 at 14:41
I agree with your comment. It's important. – iskra Oct 26 '12 at 17:07

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