I just imported 32GB of images (my local Images folder) from the past 10 years into iPhoto. I was honestly surprised that the result was an iPhoto library of 65GB. I have no RAW images and am surprised that the space is double what I expect. But on a SSD, this is really taking too much space.

One of the explanations though, was that the library consists of iPod/iPhone cache files, preview files and thumbnail files. Those folder minus 65GB results in still 51GB of images.

I extendedly compared the local folder with the 'show contents' folder from the iPhoto library and I couldn't really find any differences, but the file size of the folders themselves..

So who knows how to reduce those 65GB to a regular 32GB or can give a decent explanation..


2 Answers 2


First thing to know : There is no possibility to reduce the size of an iPhoto library without corrupting it.

What you can do is explore your iPhoto library in ~/Picture/iPhoto Library => right click => show package content.

In this directory you'll see multiple directories :

  • Masters : holds in the original of your pictures
  • Preview : holds in a low resolution preview of your pictures
  • Thumbnails : holds in thumbnails like the ones used on faces.

These 3 directories are the main reason of the weight of your library. The other files/directories are way lighter.

  • Thanks for your reply. However, As I (tried to) state, the Library, preview and thumbnail folder excluded, thus the master still contains 51GB of files, while the imported folder is just 32GB plain. So where are those extra 19 GB coming from, I'm wondering.. :s Commented Jun 3, 2014 at 22:31
  • I'm not 100% sure, but I'm 90% confident I found the boogyman.. Within the imported folder, there was a shortcut to a different folder on my drive. A shortcut is just 1KB, but the linked folder is 20GB, which reflects those missing gigabytes.. wow.. Commented Jun 3, 2014 at 22:34

After exploring the imported folder, I noticed an alias file. This linked to a folder, which contained an additional 20GB of images. That, apparently was the boogyman.

Tip if you experience an similar situation:
Explore the folder and check for links to other folders, hidden files or iPhoto libraries. There may be files/folders excluded from calculation of folder size, but are added in the iPhoto library.

This is slightly painful and shameful, but this is the truth..

  • Is the shortcut a symlink or an alias ? Commented Jun 3, 2014 at 22:40
  • I'm not 100% sure, but I just created an alias to test out, and it works exactly the same as an alias. Therefor, I put my vote on Alias. I'm updating my answer immediately. Commented Jun 3, 2014 at 23:57

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