I use a 2020 iMac 27" with MacOS Big Sur 11.2.

Under the iCloud setting, "Photos" is activated and all my photos are synced between this iMac and all my other Apple devices over my iCould.

Since I am afraid of losing data (e.g. when the "Photos" setting gets deactivated and I do not download all photos within 30 days). I wonder if it is possible to sync all photos of the Photos app to an external hard drive (e.g. with GoodSync). With sync I mean a one-way sync from the iMac to an external hard drive.

I know that is is possible to export all photos at once (https://support.apple.com/en-gb/guide/photos/pht6e157c5f/mac)

However, I look for an automated way to back up all my photos to an external hard drive that is independent of the iCloud.

What I am actually looking for is the folder path of all photos that are stored within Apple Photos app.

Thank you for your help.


I found some information here: http://www.rawinfopages.com/mac/content/where-are-your-photos-really-stored-os-x

Open a Finder window and go to your home folder and then open the Pictures folder. You’ll see an item called Photos Library.photoslibrary. It does not look like it, but this is actually a folder on the drive. Double clicking it just opens the Photos app, so you must Ctrl+click it and select Show Package Contents. ...

All the photos are stored in the originals folder in subfolders named 0 to F. These subfolders contain files with what looks like random filenames ...

It seems like Apple has done its best to prevent you from accessing photos directly by obscuring the names, dates and folder structure.

However, I am not sure if in these folders all the Original photos are saved and how I could cope with the imaging names (that are altered in these folders)

Update 2:

Thanks to @fsb I learned that all original photos are saved under Photos Library.photoslibrary > originals once "Download originals to this Mac" in the Photos app setting is activated. I can access this location with a sync program. However, I still do not know how to keep the original names during sync.

  • 2
    If you have "Download originals to this Mac" checked then you should have the original photos locally (if there's enough available drive space). Did you look into the folders indicated in the link you provided and do a spot-compare with the iCloud versions?
    – fsb
    Commented Feb 2, 2021 at 17:17
  • Thank you for your comment. Yes, I this setting is checked and the number of images stored there matches the number of the iCloud Photos
    – captcoma
    Commented Feb 2, 2021 at 17:24
  • Just to be sure, pick an older few pictures and validate the image size and exif info between the two. If they're identical (and you've waited a few days for all photos to download to your Mac) then you can be comfortable that running a SuperDuper (or similar) copy of the folder to an ext drive will have exact copies.
    – fsb
    Commented Feb 2, 2021 at 17:37
  • Thank you for your comment. So once I can only sync these weirdly named photos and then use another tool to restore the original file names from the exif info? It is not possible to sync the photos with their original name?
    – captcoma
    Commented Feb 2, 2021 at 18:28
  • 1
    Take a look at the answers on this post and see if they help. I'm not sure what exists outside of what's mentioned there but maybe someone else can help in that area.
    – fsb
    Commented Feb 2, 2021 at 19:27


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