I currently have a Macbook Pro and Time Capsule 3TB (ac-wifi).

The easiest solution for me would be to use the TC for both media storage AND backups via Time Machine.

Would this be possible?

I am thinking that the system could be "confused" loading down photos from TC to Macbook, and at the same time making backups with those same files from Macbook to TC.

I also read that OS X Photos and similar don't work well with external drives.

Can someone please bring light to this subject for me?


  • You can use it for both. Remember that computers can not be confused, they simply do their job and move on. If you're using a Photos Library, it may be slow. – At0mic Oct 17 '15 at 3:20
  • I know they can't be confused, but there can be a lot of compatibility issues. If computers worked easily there wouldn't be 100 tech supports forum : ) – MacProGirl Oct 18 '15 at 0:44

You can setup your AirPort Time Capsule to be a file server. Just create several folders or as you require. Use port forwarding in the Airport side to forward your WAN or internet connection to the Time Capsule side. Use DynDNS to setup an account and then connect from anywhere in the world where the internet is not censored. You will want excellent security configured for the AP Time Capsule if you go this route.

Or you can just use the Back to Mac function that is available through iCloud and is native to OS X.


There was a time I used my TC for TM and storage. The TC is essentially a shared disk and TM backups are just plain accessible directories showing up in your finder, the same way as they would show up on a normal USB drive with TM activated on it. However TCs are not very known for breaking speed records. I have since switched to iCloud storage and use the TM only as wifi access point.

For the storage part I used both normal storage and a couple sparse images I created in Disk Utitlity. One for iTunes, one for Photos, etc.

While the iTunes disk is quite forgiving when starting up without mounting the image first (iTunes will complain it couldn't find the last known library and give you an option to fix it), Photos.app is not.

Chances are you're not always connected to your home network and, when you're back, chances are your Mac won't see the TC right away after connecting to your Wifi. Photos.app eventually will catch up automatically, but not without giving you random punishes along the line.

Photos.app gives you the option to store lower resolution pics on your iOS devices, but stores full resolution pics on the Mac.

Yes indeed there is an option that says "Optimize Mac Storage" but the fineprint under it says "Store full-resolution photos and videos in iCloud. Originals will also be stored on this Mac if you have enough storage". Apple understands that people have multiple iOS devices. They don't see to understand others also have multiple Macs.

Bottom line: If you're up for a frustrating ride, store your photos on your TC - in either way (direct of sparse images). Using external USB3.0 drives instead is not ideal either, but at least it will save you a lot of time.

  • Thanks for your comments! Using iCloud as storage would be nice, but for photos your would like and extra backup that you don't have to do manually at intervals. What are the drawdowns of a slow TC when dealing with photos? I mean in real life situations. Couldn't I have the directory of photos on my computer and store the photos (library?) themselves on the TC? What did you mean by storing my photos on TC either direct or sparse images? Thanks! – MacProGirl Oct 18 '15 at 0:48
  • And would any of these problems resolve if I got a NAS (Synology or WD My Cloud) connected to my TC? – MacProGirl Oct 18 '15 at 0:53

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