I've been very successfully using unison to back up my personal data to a remote machine. The problem is that I cannot seem to be using it to back up my pictures as I always get the error

Error in scanning directory:
Operation not permitted [opendir(/Users/xxxx/Pictures/Photos Library.photoslibrary)]

Clearly system integrity protection is preventing unison from accessing the photo library, either on the local machine or on the remote machine (both are Macs). I have given full disk access to pretty much everything I could imagine: Terminal.app and unison on the local machine, sshd and unison on the remote machine, but without any success. I'm now running out of things to try... Any idea?

  • There are several daemons running on my Monterey MBA: cloudphotod, photoanalysisd, photolibraryd, com.apple.photos.ImageConversionService, com.apple.CloudPhotosConfiguration. Perhaps they are blocking unison from working by keeping the library open?
    – IconDaemon
    Nov 18, 2022 at 13:01
  • @IconDaemon Thanks for the suggestion, but many other files I'm backing up are also being accessed by other processes. I'm pretty sure that the number of processes that can access a file simultaneously is sufficiently large. Also, this would not cause the problem to be systematically only with the Pictures folder (and it probably wouldn't cause a "Operation not permitted" error).
    – Martin
    Nov 19, 2022 at 22:56
  • Have you written to unison support?
    – IconDaemon
    Nov 20, 2022 at 2:11

1 Answer 1


Just in case someone stumbles over this: the problem seems fixed in version 2.53 and later. This was probably related to the entry "The macOS binaries are properly signed" in the changelog.

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