I have a friend who managed to lose some photos a while back, but they "appear" in his iPhoto library. The thumbnails are there but the photos aren't. The photos seem long gone, but the thumbnails seem fairly large- large enough to maybe be useful for some of them. Is it possible to retrieve the thumbnails?


As a side note you can (~/Pictures/iPhoto Library; cmd-click iPhoto Library > Show Package Contents) check to see if they actually still exist. There should be a folder titled "Originals" and "Modified" in there.

Each folder should have subs for years, etc. Obviously Originals are the photos minus any edits while Modified would be the versions of edits (not certain if all versions of edits or only final edit).

Hope this helps.


According to this website, the thumbnails are stored inside ~/Pictures/iPhoto Library, which you can access by right-clicking iPhoto Library and choosing to view the package contents.

The first location to check is inside of the Thumbnails folder, as mentioned by OP below.

The second place to look would be in Thumb64Segment.data, or ThumbJPGSegment.data. Therefore, I would back up these files and see if there are any applications which can read this file format. I haven't been able to find one after a brief search on the Internet, but I'll update this answer if I do.

A third option might be that this may be happening because of a corrupt iPhoto Library. There's a tool called iPhoto Library Manager, which has a feature called First Aid that let's you:

Rebuild or extract photos from corrupted iPhoto libraries

I haven't tried the software, so I don't know if it will work in your case, but they do have a trial version available.

  • Thanks! I've had a look at the .data files. The JPG one seems fairly straightforward; if I have a library with only one thing in it, it's just a JPG with a big header in front of it. The 64Segment file seems to have bitmaps? Not sure. BUT. The JPG in question is smaller than the preview I can get in iPhoto. If I import a photo then trash the imported version, I can still get a 360x240 preview. The JPG is 130x100 and the preview is clearly not an upscaling of the JPG. – Roy Mar 28 '12 at 4:36
  • Oh. There's a thumbnails folder too, has what I'm looking for. As JPGs. Doy. – Roy Mar 28 '12 at 4:43
  • @Roy: Good find! Can't believe I missed that. – Senseful Mar 28 '12 at 4:53

If you can still view them in iPhoto you should be able to export them. Just select the thumbnail and click file => export.

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protected by Community Mar 28 '15 at 10:40

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