I can't access my Iphoto libraries from my hard drive. Every time I go to open the IPhoto file in the hard drive the error pops up as follows:

"You can't open Iphoto Back up because it is in Time Machine"

and when I try to open Iphoto with the Hard Drive plugged in the following error pops up:

"The iPhoto Library is a Time Machine backup, and so cannot be used as the main library. Relaunch iPhoto with key held down to choose another library."

I followed the directions but there is no library to choose. I'm not sure if I am going about the correctly but I am wondering if my time machine isn't compatible with Iphoto.

  • How did the iPhoto library get to the external drive? Via Time Machine backup, or by being dragged to the external drive via the Finder?
    – Dan J
    Jun 20, 2013 at 18:57
  • Time Machine Backup, Also I went into Time Machine to restore Iphoto and it doesn't bring back the pictures that I had now deleted and thought was backed up on my hard drive.
    – Priscilla
    Jun 20, 2013 at 19:07
  • When I called Apple support they said that my Iphoto isn't compatible with time machine. They were going to have to download the software to make it compatible. However, it wasn't cheap and I'm not even sure that they can still recover the photos. Because some people have said that it doesn't always save the photos from Iphoto.
    – Priscilla
    Jun 20, 2013 at 20:06

1 Answer 1


Right click the iPhoto library, pick "show package contents" then open the folder "Masters" or "Originals". They'll be organized by date in there. You can just drag the entire "Masters" folder into your new iPhoto and they'll get imported.

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