I have just migrated to OS X and have a lot of photos to import from my previous machine. The photos are already organised in a directory structure that I'm very happy with (i.e. 2016-05-04 Glasgow Trip).

Is Photos making a copy of the photos in my existing directories, or is it copying them elsewhere?

I'm thinking of disk space use (are the photos stored twice?), and depending on that answer, will the originals and the Photos versions get out of sync?

  • It depends. You set that in the settings somewhere.
    – andrewmh20
    May 5, 2016 at 14:36

1 Answer 1


There is a way to tell Photos to make a copy when importing or not. In Photos --> Preferences check Copy items to the photo library.

Photos' default behavior is not to include original images in imports. It keeps links to them, so you can use Photos to edit or catalog them but still keep them where they are.

It reduce the size of Photos' library but if your goal is to clean up folders and disks with lots of photos on them, it can get confusing. To put everything actually in your Photos library, make sure to modify Photos' preferences to copy imported files to your Photos library. There's another important reason to do this if you plan to share those imported images on other devices: Only items copied to Photos' library will be uploaded to iCloud Photo Library. link

enter image description here

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .