After searching here, I'm still confused about how the Photos App library works. I'd like to copy (or simply move) all of my photos (10k+) from the Photos app to an external drive, so that I can then use Lightroom to manage them. I need to do this to free up space (approx. 26gb) on my hard drive.

I've found the Photos App library and have copied it over to an external drive, but now I'm wondering how I "open" this file so that I can then import these photos into Lightroom. Is there a way to view all the original, individual photos in a simple folder that I can then work more easily with?

FWIW, I do have iCloud and my photos are automatically backed up there. There are approximately 10K photos in the Photos library. Any advice on how to best proceed?

1 Answer 1


Is your Lightroom installation also on your Mac OS partition?

If you want to edit the files in Lightroom without having to "extract" them into a separate folder, you should:

  1. Open the folder containing the Photos library in Finder.
  2. Right-click the Photos Library and click "show package contents".
  3. Open the Masters folder and right-click on a year folder and select "make alias". (This is necessary, since the "make alias" option doesn't exist when you right-click on the Masters folder for no apparent reason.)
  4. Command+I on the new alias and click "choose destination", then drag the Masters folder into the dialogue that opens.
  5. Rename your alias and drag it wherever is best for you.
  • Thanks for the reply, @cjm. Here's what I ended up doing: 1. Copied the Photos Library to an external drive (then threw out the original to make room on the drive) 2. Opened Lightroom and created a new catalog 3. Chose File > Plug-in Extras > Import from iPhoto Library ... 4. All photos were imported by default as a Collection labeled "From iPhoto" This was the best solution I could figure out for now. Interestingly, when viewing the "Masters" folder for the Photos App, it showed folders arranged by month > day, but there wasn't anything inside of any of the folders? Why is that?
    – Duskus
    Commented Nov 11, 2015 at 19:26
  • Oh, and yes - my Lightroom is installed on the same partition as my OS. Its not that I want to "edit" the files in Lightroom, its more that I do want to "extract" them into a plain-to-see folder structure that I can manage however I choose. With them being bundled up in one Photos App file, I can't do that. I've only recently started trying to more seriously use Lightroom for general photo management and workflow via catalogs and am still trying to figure out the most ideal way for me. Thanks!
    – Duskus
    Commented Nov 11, 2015 at 19:33

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