I spent a lot of time organizing my iPhoto Library with Events. Now, my events have been converted to "Folders" in the new Apple Photos system. I moved them up a level (making them Albums), and I've been using this kind of structure to keep my photos stored in different sets for several months. Now, I'd like to convert my Photo Library to a file-and-folder structure, so that I can move to a different program, such as ShotWell for Ubuntu. Unfortunately, it seems that they have been "converted" to a new Apple proprietary format (.photolibrary). Is there any way I can automate the creation of a folder structure like this:

Photos Library/Example_Album/IMG_0001.jpeg

Without losing any quality?

Here is what I tried:

  • Right-clicking onto Library and selecting "Show Package Contents": files seem to be in a wrong structure
  • Dropping all Albums from Photos to Desktop: does not export files with correct "Albums" folders

Help will be much appreciated!

  • 2
    .photolibrary isn't a "proprietary format," it is rather a bundle or package as you've discovered. It contains the original unaltered photos and metadata. The masters folder would have your photos, organized by date.
    – samh
    Commented Apr 10, 2016 at 17:09
  • And how would I export my files with the structure I created within the program? That information is stored in a proprietary format
    – Manchineel
    Commented Apr 10, 2016 at 17:12
  • Have you added new photos to Photos since converting?
    – samh
    Commented Apr 10, 2016 at 17:25
  • Yes. I also changed something in the albums. I can't go back to iPhoto Library. If there's no way at all, I will have to buy that program, delete the Photo Library and never use Apple software again. I'm very disappointed.
    – Manchineel
    Commented Apr 10, 2016 at 17:42
  • 2
    Nothing about Photos advertises a "folder and file" hierarchy. An album is an abstraction in Photos…a single photo can appear in multiple albums. Think about this: how much is your time worth, and how much time are you willing to spend researching this, and how good is that $13 looking? If you want to let Apple's failure to consider how you wished their software would work reason to swear off the company altogether, godspeed--it's really no difference to us. We're here for you if have any other questions.
    – samh
    Commented Apr 11, 2016 at 0:19

3 Answers 3


Sounds like this would solve this problem more simply:

set dest to "/Users/HOME/Desktop/PHOTOS-Albums/" as POSIX file as text -- the destination folder (use a valid path) 

tell application "Photos"
    set l to name of albums
    set albNames to choose from list l with prompt "Select some albums" with multiple selections allowed

    if albNames is not false then -- not cancelled  
        repeat with tName in albNames
            set tFolder to dest & tName
            my makeFolder(tFolder) -- create a folder named (the name of this album) in dest   
            export (get media items of album tName) to (tFolder as alias) without using originals
         end repeat
    end if
end tell

on makeFolder(tPath)
    do shell script "mkdir -p " & quoted form of POSIX path of tPath
end makeFolder

Although I haven't tested it myself, it is a script to export selected albums into a folder structure in Finder with he album names as Folder names.

  • I like this more since it elegantly uses built-in macOS functionality rather than obscure proprietary software which isn't even available anymore.
    – Manchineel
    Commented Sep 24, 2019 at 14:26

At the end, the only solution to this was to download Photos-to-Disk Software I mentioned above. It worked perfectly, creating the Folder Structure I needed. I recommend to do the same guys, if for some reason you have this issue.

  • Photos-to-Disk was great for Photos on macOS versions up to Mojave or High Sierra but has since been demised. An alternative for Macs running High Sierra onward (Mojave, Catalina, Big Sur) is Photos Takeout, described here: apple.stackexchange.com/questions/389572/…
    – MacEater
    Commented Jan 1, 2021 at 11:23

It's already there in that form. It's just a question of finding it, and then copying it.

  1. Go to your Pictures folder

  2. In that find the Photos Library probably called "Photos 3 Library"

  3. Right click, or control click, on Photos 3 Library and pick Show Package Contents. Do not alter, move or delete anything in here.

  4. Your photo masters are all in the directory Masters in a hierarchical date structure.

  5. Right/control click on Masters to find out how big it is. You're going to need that much space.

  6. Copy the whole folder (press alt and then drag it) to somewhere outside of the library, anywhere you want.

Et voila.

  • 4
    But it's not organized in albums
    – Manchineel
    Commented Jan 13, 2017 at 20:08
  • 2
    This was correct up to Photos 4.0 (on Mojave), but in Catalina and Big Sur "Masters" folder has changed to "Originals", and instead of year-wise folders and month-wise sub-folders, now there are folders named 0-9 and A-F etc. that contain unmodified original photos not with original but HEX based file names. And yes, you won't get organized folder structure by copying or drag n drop.
    – MacEater
    Commented Jan 1, 2021 at 11:29

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