I used to import photos from my DSLR camera (Canon 50D) via Photos Library and then copy them from ~/Pictures/Photos Library.photoslibrary/Masters/ directory. They were grouped by year/month/day of import and all files had their original file names eg. IMG_123456.jpeg

Recently I've noticed that Masters directory is missing (probably after update to Catalina). Imported photos seem to be located in ~/Pictures/Photos Library.photoslibrary/originals/ directory, however directories structure is illogical and file names are some hash values eg. 33487C0A-C816-4EE1-9F8D-49E20E1A06A4.jpeg.

Does anyone know why is that? Can the "previous" approach with "Masters" directory be restored? How to retrieve files with their original names from Photos Library?

2 Answers 2


Is there a reason you want/need to do this via the Finder, exploring the Photos Library.photoslibrary package database?

If you are going to do that, why not just "import" the files from your SD Card using Finder? Skip importing via Photos entirely.

If you are importing into Photos, I'd suggest you also export via Photos.app rather than exploring its folder structure. Select the photos you want, then select File > Export. This will export the photos using their original metadata and filenames.

  • "Is there a reason you want/need to do this via the Finder" actually yes, I often forget my CF card reader and then I would like to import photos directly from my camera via USB which is only recognized by Photos app. Also the way how Photos app organised imported files in directories was very handfull. The new approach with originals is poor. I didn't know about the File>Export option - this seems to be satisfying solution for now. A little more about it can be found here: support.apple.com/guide/photos/…
    – Krzysiek
    Commented Nov 5, 2019 at 16:45

Although it looks tempting (guilty as charged here), you should never directly edit the Photos Library.photoslibrary bundle in which Photos.app manages photos, screenshots and movie clips.

I suppose that the fundamental changes in the bundle structure and file naming (GUID based) in Catalina were in part motivated due to people directly interacting in the bundle, potentially breaking the Photos.app library, as Photos.app never assumed someone would interfere.

If you want to manage your photos with Photos.app, then the only official way is to import the photos from within Photos.app.

Keep in mind that Photos.app will "stack" originals and modified photos where only the most recently modification will show (hiding the master and the older modifications). For some this works, for some not.

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