A similar question was asked before but doesn't go into the detail I am looking for- Backing up Photos library to external hard drive

I would like to backup my Photos library but I don't want to use the .photoslibrary because there appears to be a bunch of meta material. If I right-click and do "Show Package Contents" I see a "Master" folder which appears to have exactly what I am looking for. Just a folder hierarchy with all the original images. Can someone confirm if this is the case? As well, what would I be losing if I go this route?

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    In short, you would lose everything except the images themselves, all edits, tags, albums, etc
    – Tetsujin
    May 6, 2016 at 18:51
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    Are you backing up the Photos Library.photolibrary bundle in any manner, Time Machine maybe? If no then you might want to backup the entire bundle. If yes, then backing up just the Master folder gives you the original images but nothing else associated with Photos. May 6, 2016 at 18:52
  • Thanks. Losing the edits wouldn't be ideal, so ill keep backing-up both. I am already backing the photos up several other ways, this is more of a "last-resort" backup.
    – tbolt
    May 6, 2016 at 19:02
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    For 'last resort' I'd recommend Backblaze - cheapish, encrypted, unlimited storage, & not in the same building as your other backups. Doesn't back the OS & apps, just the irreplaceable stuff.
    – Tetsujin
    May 6, 2016 at 20:02

1 Answer 1


You'll have your original pictures without edits, if backing up just the "Masters" folder. From what I've seen, and depending on your configuration, this are some of the folders and educated guesses on what you will be losing:

  • Database folder: Database info on Albums, faces, persons, and sharing history, keywords, places
  • There seems to be information on your iPhoto database, probably there if you upgraded from it to Photos.app as I did
  • Previews (which may be there if you have iCloud Photo Library as I do)
  • Projects
  • Faces thumbnails
  • Thumbnails

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