My wife has a MASSIVE iPhoto library -- thousands of snapshots of her cat and food and flowers, vacation photos, and so on, all taken at the highest resolution on her digital camera (up to 12 Megapixels).

The library is taking up tonnes of space and it's bogging down iPhoto and her old iMac.

She only ever uses these photos for Facebook and things like that -- maybe some of them might get printed as 5"x7" prints for a photo album or something.

So I'm thinking it would be nice to reduce all of the images down to a max size of 1920 pixels (height or width, depending on landscape or portrait orientation).

Is there an easy way to reduce the size of all photos in the iPhoto library?

I was thinking of doing a massive export of all photos to a folder on an external drive with those max dimensions, but my concern is that I would lose all the iPhoto album organization.

Any thoughts?

3 Answers 3


Because these digital images represent irreplaceable data, and exporting in smaller resolutions in essence deletes some data, I'd move these images to an external HD to keep them in their original sizes.

For data-dense backups, inexpensive external dual-layer Blueray burners can store 50GB per disc.


sips offers a handy way to do this via command line. That plus a quick bash hack should probably do it. Drop a comment if you'd like help writing the script to do this.

for i in /path/to/your/library/*; do
    sips -z 1920 1920 $i

Note that if you want to maintain the aspect ratio of your photos, drop the second 1920 in the command.

  • Thanks! Looks just right ... I'll try it and report back. Sep 2, 2015 at 2:40

An export creates new photos and leaves the originals untouched, so that would likely make your problem worse. You'd have to export, remove originals, then reimport the exported, smaller photos. And you'd have to account for your organization, since from iPhoto's point of view those are new photos.

You might try making separate libraries, and storing some of those photos elsewhere. External storage is probably cheaper than your time spent trying to crop or resize or even cull all of those.

  • Thanks. I don't mind the idea of exporting, then deleting the originals, and importing the new smaller photos. But after thinking about it, I realize I'd lose all date info, and all organized-by-dated-albums usefulness. So that won't work for me. Be great if I could just select an album and tell it to shrink all those photos to max 1920x1920 size. Sep 1, 2015 at 20:53
  • The exif creation date shouldn't change if a JPEG is exported; the FILE creation date would, but that's different.
    – 211Oakland
    Sep 3, 2015 at 16:04

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