Is there any way to set iPhoto library on external HDD instead of main HDD. I have a lot of photos and am running out of space on my MBP.

I was thinking to achieve it by symlinks or something. It this possible at all?

If not, I'd be glad if anyone could recommend a iPhoto-like program which supports having photo library on external disk.

(I'm using Snow Leopard with iPhoto'09, but aby solution would be great as I'm about to upgrade to Lion)


3 Answers 3


You can simply copy the iPhoto Library to an external hard drive and access it form there. Of course you need to have the external HDD connected whenever you want to run iPhoto.

To copy the library: Quit iPhoto. In your Pictures folder there should be a file (actually a special folder called a package) called iPhoto Library. Copy this folder to the new location on the external HDD. Since you're using iPhoto '09 you can just double-click on the library in its new location and iPhoto will open it and use it as the default library from now on.

This Apple Support document also covers the copy process.

However, you need to be very careful if you have images that are not contained in the iPhoto Library (referenced images) as these won't be copied to the new location. If you have the "Copy Photos to Library" option checked in iPhoto preferences, and have always had it checked (it's the default), then you shouldn't have a problem.


Michal, it's possible to do this with symlink.

What I did is to have my iPhoto Library folder moved to an external HDD (you could also choose a USB thumb drive). When I next launched iPhoto.app, it prompted me and asked where is the missing iPhoto Library which I then specified. The only catch is you need to remember to plug-in the external HDD before you launch iPhoto else it'll prompt you.

  • No need to use a symlink, just move the library and tell iPhoto where the new library is when it asks.
    – mluisbrown
    Commented Jan 5, 2012 at 12:42

You can move your iPhoto library when iPhoto is not running:

$ mkdir -p /Volumes/DEVELOPMENT/Pictures/
$ mv ~/Pictures/iPhoto\ Library.photolibrary/ /Volumes/DEVELOPMENT/Pictures/

The next time you open your iPhoto, press ALT and click the iPhoto icon. Then you can specify the new location in the GUI. This way I made over 5GB room on my startup disk.

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