I have two libraries from the Photos app (version 1.3 on OS X 10.11.2).

Is it possible to merge them or to move pictures from one library into another?

  • I've added OS X and photos version - please edit if I guessed wrongly. – bmike Dec 28 '15 at 20:38

I use PowerPhotos from FatCatSoftware to merge my libraries. I've merged more than 12 libraries and 500 GB of photos.

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    This is the "best tool" I've known for managing both Photos and iPhoto libraries in the sense that they have been around, don't abuse customers, and don't cause lots of issues when people use the product. I'm sure not everyone is 100% happy with it, but it's a great option if you want a tool to help merge libraries. – bmike Dec 28 '15 at 20:42

If you use iCloud Photo Library and first upload one library and then make the second library the system library, the first library will get downloaded into the second library (if that makes sense).

  • OP never mentioned using iCloud Photo Library and most libraries are too big and would therefore cost too much to upload to iCloud. – aidanb.01 Dec 28 '15 at 20:34
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    @aidanb.01 I would say $3 for one month of space isn't a bad trade off - especially if your time is worth something at all or you are considering buying a tool to merge things. I get lots of people are hesitant to pay for anything, but time is precious and a one month charge isn't really onerous IMO. – bmike Dec 28 '15 at 20:35

I would export all the photos from the smaller library, into a folder. Then go into the larger library and import the photos. This keeps metadata and location info in place.


The only Apple merge of libraries appeared in Aperture. You could use a third party option like iPhoto allowed, but the main method of merging is to export the photos in whatever organization you want (album oriented) on one Library to the filesystem and then import those into the remaining library.

This loses ratings, albums, faces, etc... but not geolocation and edits if you are exporting the edited photos and not the originals.

I have had limited success putting photos into iCloud Photo library and then deleting that local library after switching the other library to be the "system library" but I did have about 3% duplicate photos - so that was several dozen items to find and prune by hand. I wouldn't recommend this since it's not easy to fix iCloud library if it messes up badly. For what it's worth, my cloud library is now 80 GB and 20k items - so unless you are much smaller or larger, you could try that after backing things up.

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