When you first create your OS X login account it takes a picture of you. Where does that picture get stored? I can't find it in ~/Pictures or ~/Library.

  • Are you looking to replace the photo or you just want to know where it is to use it? Nov 3 '10 at 15:00
  • My wife likes the photo it took of here. She wants a copy to use elsewhere.
    – Ian C.
    Nov 3 '10 at 15:06
  • possible duplicate of Where does the Mac store account pictures?
    – mmmmmm
    May 15 '12 at 17:07

The photo can be found in the /Library/Caches folder, if you haven't cleared this folder yet. Otherwise, I recommend typing:

dscl . -read /Users/short_username JPEGPhoto | tail -1 | xxd -r -p > 

on one line in a Terminal window, from Chealion's brilliant answer here. In the above example, a JPEG copy will be saved to /PATH/TO/accountImage.jpg.

  • With the caveat being that the user hasn't cleaned that out (like I do every month), even though my account image remains the same. Nov 3 '10 at 19:13
  • Is this answer valid anymore on Lion? The command is nice, but fails on most of my 10.7.3 and 10.7.4 machines to yield a workable jpg for accounts with custom pictures.
    – bmike
    May 15 '12 at 16:26
  • 1
    to clarify short_username === YOUR_USERNAME. works like a breeze Jul 24 '15 at 4:49

Unless your account is a network account from a server such as OSX Server using directory services (or AD on Windows or LDAP on *nix), then it gets stored in the plist file that stores the local directory services data on your Mac.

Before Lion, these files were simply text formatted xml files stored as shortname.plist in the directory /private/var/db/dslocal/nodes/users

The image is encoded as a JPEG file under the key:


If you selected a stock picture instead of a custom one, you may be able to locate that file with the following command:

    dscl . -read /Users/shortname Picture

The system also caches more than a handful of previous pictures so you can usually go back to a favorite picture using the system preference graphical tools. If your plist is stored in binary format, you may use a command like this to dump a xml version of the binary file to /tmp:

    plutil -convert xml1 shortname.plist -o /tmp/shortname.plist

take a look in ~/Library/Images/iChat Recent Pictures

  • There is no ~/Library/Images/iChat Recent Pictures directory. I did find ~/Library/Application\ Support/AddressBook/Images/ but the one file in there isn't an image file.
    – Ian C.
    Nov 3 '10 at 15:38
  • I looked there, too, and didn't find anything. This is an odd one, to be sure. It might an invisible file to hide it from nefarious characters such as ourselves since the system uses it in a variety of places. Nov 3 '10 at 16:03
  • darn...it appeared to be in there for my current profile picture. You could try fs_usage while accessing it and see if that reveals the location
    – Kevin
    Nov 3 '10 at 16:14

Get image from profile

  1. Open new terminal window
  2. Add the following command

dscl . -read $(pwd) JPEGPhoto | tail -1 | xxd -r -p > $(pwd)/Pictures/profile-photo.jpg

Put image into profile

enter image description here

  1. Open the “Users & Groups” preference panel as usual
  2. Drag and drop an image file into the existing profile picture thumbnail
  3. Adjust as necessary and click “Done” to set the image as the profile picture

open finder, click: command,shift,G



then click the folder that is titled as your user name.

then click the SKAvatar Cache folder.

it should be the first image.

Good luck!

  • 2
    This doesn't answer the OP's question.
    – Scot
    May 22 '13 at 4:54

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