In Finder, right-click the
Photos Library.photoslibrary file and click
Show Package Contents. Inside you will find a folder named
Masters. It contains all your originals, organized by date. If you’ve made no edits to your photos, then that’s all you need.
Masters fails, you can try copying individual subfolders until you’ve isolated the corrupted folders/photos. This will at least allow you to salvage the vast majority of your photos, instead of losing the entire library.
-36 error in Finder is often caused by corrupt
. files (typically
.DS_Store). Thankfully there is a handy command-line utility named
dot_clean that will attempt to fix this issue for you. It’s a good idea to have a backup of your photos before using any repair tool, so do this after you’ve copied your
Masters folder somewhere safe.
Open a Terminal session and type the following:
dot_clean ~/Pictures/Photos\ Library.photoslibrary/
This is assuming your Photos Library is in the default location. Since you’re using an external drive, replace
~/Pictures with the correct path (prefixing spaces with
Now try copying your
Photos Library.photoslibrary file once again. If this still fails, try repairing your external drive using Disk Utility and running First Aid on it.
And as a last resort, you can try repairing your Photos Library. Quit out of Photos completely by pressing ⌘ cmd q. Then relaunch the app by holding ⌘ cmd ⌥ opt while clicking the icon in your dock. Finally choose
Leave the app alone while it does its thing and don't interact with it in any way.