Like many others, the number of photos that we are storing these days is growing. Also, we have multiple iPhoto libraries on various computers.

So it makes sense to consolidate photos into a single library on an external drive and have every computer reference this library.

For starters, I moved the biggest iPhoto library to the external drive. Then, using the hold-down-option-button method, I changed the referenced iPhoto library for the iPhoto app. Aside from some expected extra latency, all seems to work.

The problem lies when I attempt to attach a photo to an email or upload a photo to the website. The file chooser dialog's media browser does not seem to work with with the new iPhoto library location. In other words, when I go to the Media section and select Photos, I do not see my photos.

Is there some extra step that I am missing? Or does the media browser only work with local files? I cannot seem to find the answer to this question, though I know many will probably run into this.

I am currently using the iPhoto Library Manager to rebuild the iPhoto library, however it is taking a long time. I'm uncertain whether it will even work once its completed; probably should have tested with a tiny library to see, but I didn't.

Any help or references to resources would be appreciated.


1 Answer 1


Couple of things:

  1. What format is the external? iPhoto needs to have the Library sitting on disk formatted Mac OS Extended (Journaled). Users with the Library sitting on disks otherwise formatted regularly report issues including, but not limited to, importing, saving edits and sharing the photos.

  2. Is that a wireless connection to the disk? A strong warning: If you're trying to edit the Library (that is, make albums, move photos around, keyword, make books or slideshows etc.) or edit individual photos in it via Wireless be very careful. Dropouts are a common fact of wireless networking, and should one occur while the app is writing to the database then your Library will be damaged. Simply, I would not do this with my Libraries.

  • 1. The format is HFS+ Journaled, which I think is the format you are suggesting. 2. I hear what you are saying, but are you suggesting that whenever anyone wants to make an iPhoto change that they use a wired connection? Seems rather inconvenient. I was thinking the software might be a bit more fault tolerant. Feb 1, 2012 at 17:07
  • Thing is, it's not. If the app is interrupted while writing to the db then it will corrupt. iPhoto is a very good app for very simple set ups. Once you move it out of its comfort zone you run into problems very fast.
    – terrydev
    Feb 1, 2012 at 19:02
  • Can you cite any references to why you believe this to be true? Yes it sounds like common sense, however, I see lots of references to people doing this. Feb 1, 2012 at 20:26
  • I post on the Apple Discussions site for iPhoto. It's not an uncommon issue there.
    – terrydev
    Feb 1, 2012 at 20:56

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