I'm switching the system photo library. Following the instructions at Designate a System Photo Library in Photos

Once I press "Use as system photo library" I get a popup saying "Switching the system photo library will turn off iCloud photos". When I press OK on that I get the spinning beach ball for 12 hours before the system photo library is actually executed. (no updates, no upload, at least none on the surface).

What's going on? Why does setting up a system library take hours?

  • How are you determining "no updates, uploads, etc."? Just a suspicion: is it possible that most of your images are stored in iCloud and your Mac starts downloading all images which takes time, depending how big the library is.
    – X_841
    May 19, 2021 at 6:18
  • It's happening before even turning on iCloud. I just set it as system library with iCloud off, and this takes hours. May 19, 2021 at 20:04
  • 1
    Seeing the same behavior, my beach ball has been spinning for a couple of hours now.
    – NBW
    Mar 27, 2022 at 20:13
  • Did it ever complete? Running into same issue.
    – Andre M
    Dec 27, 2022 at 2:05

1 Answer 1


Ran into the same issue today. Here's how I solved it, in case anyone else has the same issue:

  • Force quit Photos using System Monitor
  • Restarted my Mac
  • Opened the photo libraries again. Had to click "Repair photo library" and that took like 15 seconds total.
  • Clicked on "Change System Photo Library" again.
  • Beach ball spun for about 5 minutes this time
  • Worked

I think the issue was related to some extensions being installed. In my case, it was Photomator.

  • Did you remove the extensions at any point int his process?
    – Oion Akif
    Jan 1 at 21:48

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