When I import photos from a shared library, either from my own Family album or one shared with other iOS users, they are imported as expected. I cannot reimport them again.

However, if you share a picture in a shared album yourself (e.g. originating from the Photos.app on on my Mac), you can import that photo again once in your library. Resulting in duplicate photos.

This occurs in the Mac OSX Photos app, version 1.0.1 (215.65.0).

I'm aware that 'duplicate' in the technical definition may not be accurate; the imported photo in this case will have a different filename and be of lower resolution. But from a functional perspective it IS a duplicate.

Is there any way to avoid importing these duplicates so every now and then I can safely select and import a bunch of pictures from a shared library, without having to cleanup the duplicates afterwards?

Note that I've seen a similar older question, which is only for iPhoto.

Update 11 Jan, 2016: This is still an issue with the latest version of Photos v1.3 (350.23.0)

  • 2
    good point with technical and functional ! +1 from me
    – Ruskes
    Commented Jul 22, 2015 at 20:28
  • I recommend a product to find and remove duplicates here. apple.stackexchange.com/questions/364610/… Would that be an answer for you?
    – bmike
    Commented Jul 20, 2019 at 0:27

3 Answers 3


I don’t have a full solution to what I analyze as a conceptual bug in iPhoto and Photos:

they don’t attempt to avoid duplicates, either real ones or false ones where there is simply 2 different names pointing toward the same internal file ( like link in the Finder do ).

My personal work around is purely organizational:

I strictly respect the following rules:

  • I only import photos from external sources ( camera, iPhone ),
  • On every import I always activate the delete after import option.
  • On every import I explicitly select a folder to import to.

Thus all my photos are sorted from the beginning, and I avoid any form of duplicate.

But to be honest, I feel that Photos needs a serious improvement for people who manage more than a few hundreds pictures.

  1. Open Photos app in OS X as usual.
  2. Pull down the “Photos” menu and choose “Preferences”
  3. Under the “General” tab, look for “Importing: Copy items to the Photos library” and uncheck that box to disable image copying.
  4. Close Preferences.

Happy snapping! :)

  • 2
    Thank you for the suggestion @Scorpion93. But would that not disable importing photos to my lib entirely? That wouldn't solve the original question.
    – Moriarty
    Commented Feb 14, 2019 at 15:09

MacPaw Gemini duplicate finder seems to be a good app for this job

  • Welcome to Ask Different! Please don't give one-sentence answers. We're looking for answers that provide explanations as to why it answers the question as well as why it's the best answer. See How to Answer for info on what makes up a good answer. - From Review -
    – fsb
    Commented Jul 4, 2016 at 17:06
  • 1
    I doubt that this is for removing duplicates in your file system instead of the library.
    – Sunny Miu
    Commented Feb 13, 2020 at 14:03

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