I have a new-ish Macbook Air with limited HD space. I take a lot of photos as a wannabe photographer. Even if I had more HD space, eventually I'd run out of space. I have and use Photostream, but I'm curious how other people manage their disk usage without losing images all together. Here's my usual process with photos:

  1. Take a crapton of photos w/ my DSLR.
  2. Import those photos into iPhoto (now Photos, of course) on my computer.
  3. Delete an embarrassingly high percentage of those photos.
  4. Edit the rest as needed.
  5. Organize them as desired.
  6. Share all of them via iCloud Photo Sharing.
  7. Share the ones I find particularly interesting or likable on Flickr.

This is all well and good, but about every 6 months or so I hit my (self-imposed) 64GB photo limit and now what? To date, my solution has been to archive that library to a MicroSD card and create a new library to start over again.

It's the last part that I just hate. I have to rebuild common folders/albums, smart albums and anything else that is not specific to any one 6 month period every time I start over.

Please tell me there's a better way.

2 Answers 2


You could upgrade your iCloud storage and utilize the iCloud Photo Library, this can be used/setup by checking the respective box in Preferences.

The other option would be to have your Photos library on an external hard drive. Then when launching Photos, hold the option key, choose other library on the bottom left, and you can point Photos to look at the external drive's Photos library. This will only display your library when your external drive is connected however.


I manage it by not self-imposing a (IMO pretty ridiculously low) size limit on how much space they take up. Storage is cheap - well, as cheap as it's ever been, anyway, even if not "cheap" as in $1 McChickens cheap.

Buy a decent 4 TB external hard drive and save photos nearly forever. At 64 GB per 6 months, you're looking at over a quarter of a century (even allowing for Photos library overhead) before you run out of space.

Also note Photo Stream is in no way a long-term storage solution. iCloud Photo Library, on the other hand, could be, but at your usage rate, you'd end up paying $20 a month pretty quick just for storage.

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