In 2019 I did a clean install on my iPhone and continued to take photos and transfer them to my OLD laptop. From 2016 to today I have about 150 GB there.

I just got a new laptop and have transferred all the photos from my phone to it, but there are 100+ GB of photos on my old laptop that I want to move there as well.

I suppose I will have to move them first to a hard drive first (I don't use iCloud).

Question: I've never imported from a drive into Photos much less tried to merge them with existing photos. Is there a way I can do this transfer so that all the pre-2019 and post-2019 end up together again on my NEW laptop just like they are on my OLD laptop? I would like to just specify an ending date when either saving from OLD to the intermediate hard drive or when importing to NEW laptop

note: I ran out of space on OLD so there is a big chunk of photos in my phone that never made it there, otherwise I could just do them all at once.

all my photos

  • Find those photos you want to copy to the new laptop in the Finder on the old mac, and copy them to a USB-drive, then connect the USB-drive to the new mac and tell Photos to import those images found. In other words, do it outside any app. Jun 27, 2020 at 10:01
  • @ThorbjørnRavnAndersen Thanks! 100 GB of photos at 2 MB per photos is about 50,000 photos. I have found a single file called Photos Library, but how can I locate the individual photos with Finder? When I click this icon it just launches the Photos app. i.sstatic.net/DBZeY.png
    – uhoh
    Jun 27, 2020 at 10:11
  • 1
    Right click on the library and open its contents. macOS knows how to present certain folders like a single thing. Jun 27, 2020 at 11:04
  • @ThorbjørnRavnAndersen MacOS is so smart! :-) i.sstatic.net/xpH39.png So I can import them back into the same group in Photos on NEW where there are existing photos from my phone? I will assume that I can and proceed and let you know if it works.
    – uhoh
    Jun 27, 2020 at 11:23
  • @ThorbjørnRavnAndersen when I import from phone to laptop Photos may have some access to the iOS file system (I don't know) and get the dates that the photos were taken so they can be included in chronological order in Photos. If I export to an external hard drive and then re-import, to Photos, will it have access to the dates and times that the photos were taken so they can be displayed correctly? To be honest, since this is posted as a comment rather than an answer, other users may not have seen it and it can't be voted on, so I don't have any way of knowing if this is a good solution or not
    – uhoh
    Jun 29, 2020 at 2:43

1 Answer 1


This might sound crazy, but AirDrop might be the easiest solution for your use case.

50000 photos might sound like a lot but local Wi-Fi transfers can be even faster than hard-drive/USB drive copying on modern routers.

I just tested sending 100 photos from my wife's laptop to mine:

  1. The transfer finished in a few seconds
  2. I was presented with an import screen in Photos where I could choose what to import and where
  3. All photos were imported in their original chronological order and in the same folders they were on my wife's laptop

On the OLD laptop

share all photos through airdrop

On the NEW laptop

receive airdrop photos import shared photos into library

  • Crazy is good! Okay, I will try this this weekend.
    – uhoh
    Jan 6, 2022 at 15:42

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .