I have a question about duplicate photo libraries that seems the opposite of a previously asked question. In my case, after converting iPhoto library to Photos library, the computer at one point asked if I wanted to convert Photos library to iPhoto library. So I said yes and now have two libraries. In this case I think each one is taking up 130 GB of space rather than each library pointing to the same photos, and I would like to remove one of them. Is it safe to remove the iPhoto library? Would this also delete the photos used by the Photos library?

  • Can you please provide a link to the other question that you're referring to? Nov 5, 2015 at 19:20
  • apple.stackexchange.com/questions/180176/… I think this is the thread. In this case the iPhotos library was converted to Photos and some of the answers referred to links pointing to the same photos. My computer made that same conversion, but later I somehow allowed it to convert back to iPhotos, leaving me the two libraries. Both are on an external drive and drive info shows each one using 130 GB and space left available on the drive is shown as being reduced by that amount. That is why I think I have two databases instead of one.
    – John Perry
    Nov 6, 2015 at 21:14

1 Answer 1


If you make a time machine backup, you can be sure that you can recover from anyone's guess as to whether you have two libraries or just that the files are linked together.

Photos is designed to use hard links in some cases to avoid duplicating every photo during the transition period. When you eventually delete the old library, then you no longer have linked files. Keep in mind - when files are hard linked, you have two pointers to the same one file. No duplication happens other than at the level you are accustomed to seeing things in Finder and open/save dialogs.

  • Good idea. But the problem is that right now Time Machine is on the same external drive as the two photo libraries. I do have the photos in iCloud now, so that can be a backup. But if I one of the libraries it might delete photos from iCloud as well.
    – John Perry
    Nov 6, 2015 at 21:17
  • Yes @JohnPerry - you're going to want to get a third drive to either back up the photos or hold them separate from the backups - at least for the time while you work out the merging. File IO speed on the photo library files isn't the most critical and you'll only do the split/merge once so moving them all the the boot volume isn't needed if you can't fit them due to space constraints.
    – bmike
    Nov 6, 2015 at 22:05

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