OK here's the story. My wife's old Mac -- a late 2010 MacBook Air currently running Yosemite. We get a new Macbook Air (high end model) running Mojave.

I use the Migration Assistant to transfer the data, it takes a while but it appears all is well, until we get to the photo library.

"Could not repair permissions" it says.

OK then. We have some photos on there but not all; it's stuff that was in iCloud storage. I think well, why not put all the photos from the old Mac into icloud and download it to the new one.

So I try this - we upgrade to 50GB but it says it isn't enough (even though when we upgraded it said it should hold the whole library).

All righty then, I think, I will see if I can't repair permissions on the old Mac and try again.

But here is where I am confused. Apple's support says that if I delete anything from iCloud it is "Not available on any device" even if I store the originals on the old Mac -- thank God I did a Time Machine backup. Does this mean that when I upload photos to iCLoud I give Apple complete control, and that deleting them removes them from every device? How do I keep the originals then? What happens when I connect the old Mac to the Internet, do all my photos get erased?

Secondly, I want to just transfer the photo library once I fix the permissions on the old machine and I am unsure how to do that without doing the whole migration process again. If I have to do that fine, but I'd like to know if I can do photos only and save some time.

Thanks for your help, I hope this isn't too similar to what other people have asked, and if you answer pretend I am the dumbest person you ever met. :-)

  • Currently this is rather broad and asking several things at once. Can you edit this done to the practical problem at hand, or ask seperate questions for both the practical problem of getting access to your library again and the more general question about how iCloud Photos work? – nohillside Jan 17 at 7:35
  • To maybe resolve one puzzle: "when I upload photos to iCLoud I give Apple complete control" isn't really accurate. iCloud Photos is a syncing solution so any action you do on a photo on any location (edit, deletion etc) gets synced across all devices connected through iCloud Photos. – nohillside Jan 17 at 7:37
  • As it happened doing a permissions repair resolved the issue. But I am still curious as to what happens when I upload to iCloud and it syncs to every device - is there any way to NOT sync so if something gets deleted from iCloud I can still have a local copy? – Jesse Jan 18 at 20:11
  • The First Part of the answer below seems to address that. – nohillside Jan 18 at 20:55

I suggest that you use the export function of photos.

  • from the photos app

    .. be sure you click on the photos tab

    .. command+a to highlight all photos

    .. click on file

    .. click on export

    .. export ... [ you can pick either of the first two. I don't know what you might want. If you have made photo edits in photos, you want the first one. ]

enter image description here

  • if you did't export the photos to an external drive, copy the photos to an external drive.

  • use the import function on the other machine.

My view, in short, is that placing you photos in iCloud is a method for loosing them. I recommend you get your photos out of the Apple ecosystem and store them as one photo per file on multiple external storage devices. For long term storage, don't rely on usb memory sticks nor external ssd drives. LoC does not have data on the reliability of usb memory sticks. Apple seems to be saying do not store photos on external ssd drives. One device should be off site. Using a cloud service is fine. Remember a lot of cloud services are sync services. That is should the file be deleted on the local device, the photo will be deleted in the cloud. For this reason, I never install the cloud service software on my computer. I use only file upload. For those who complain, my assessment is that the apple Eco-system doesn't match Library of Congress's requirements for digital archiving.

informative video: http://www.digitalpreservation.gov/multimedia/videos/personalarchiving-photos.html

printed version http://www.digitalpreservation.gov/personalarchiving/photos.html

General information on digital preservation: http://www.digitalpreservation.gov/personalarchiving/

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  • Thanks this helps. When I import photos on the second machine as you say to do, will the date they were taken (some of the metadata) be preserved? We haven't really organized our photos much except by that method. Also, and not to be obtuse, if I want to make sure that the photos say on my local machine no matter what happens to the cloud, what settings do I use? – Jesse Dec 29 '19 at 20:19
  • You export them and leave them in a folder. I believe you are going to loose all you photo organization. I recommend exporting all your photos. Place on an external drive. Detach drive. See if you can get someother method like iCloud to work. The metadata associated with your photos should be preserved. – historystamp Dec 29 '19 at 20:27
  • How does the second part about long-term archiving relate to the question asked? – nohillside Jan 17 at 5:02
  • @nohillside So it seems to me, this guy lost all his photos since he had to restore from time machine. My answer explains how to avoid loosing photos in the future. – historystamp Jan 17 at 19:11
  • @nohillside You guys are missing the point. icloud is for turning your photo collection into a borg collective. Any action from one machine effects all the other machines. To archive your photos, you need to follow the Library of Congress guidelines. – historystamp Jan 17 at 19:11

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