Before the rush

Before the rush
by evan-pak

Submit your Photo
Hall of Fame

Please participate in Meta
and help us grow.

Photography Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for professional, enthusiast and amateur photographers. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

I have about 10k photos in iphoto, carefully organised into albums and rated and tagged. How can I export all that organisation data if I wanted to move my library to another photo management system?

Mainly I'm thinking about long term backup. It is conceivable that iphoto or osx will not exist in 20 or 30 years (I have pegasus mail archives on Iomega zip disks). Can I save the iPhoto organisation info into some generic format?

share|improve this question

I typed the answer below without clearly reading your question. It might be useful to others. What I think you're looking for doesn't exist, but this appears to be close - phoshare.

I know that out of the box the iPhoto library can be opened in Aperture.* That does give you some flexablity as you can switch between the two apps and the organization and metadata is kept intact.

The other thing to consider is that the iPhoto library is really just a collection of folders and and databases for reference. If the software that support is were to disappear tomorrow, you'd still be able to access your source photos.

If you navigate to your ~/Pictures folder and right (or control+) click on your iPhoto Library you can view its contents. Select "Show Package Contents" and you'll see the innards of your Library.

There's a folder called Masters, which is where all of your unedited photos are stored - in a hierarchy of folders by date.

In theory, you could extract and then import that into any myriad of tools down the road. You would obviously lose lots of reference data and organization, but you'd still have your files to do as you see fit.

*As of Aperture 3.3.2 and iPhoto 9.3.2

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.