I set iPhoto to not copy photos when I add them to my library (because having two copies is not helpful, wastes space, and makes more work for me).

I then happened to delete some photos using Picasa, and now iPhoto gives me errors saying:

The photo “DSC00028.JPG” could not be opened, because the original item cannot be found.

Is there an easy way to automatically purge all these deleted files from the iPhoto library? I wish it just kept itself with sync with the filesystem, like Picasa does, because I use multiple apps, I may delete photos or move them to Dropbox or an external disc, etc.

  • You might want to try asking this question over at Ask Different - the Stack Exchange site for Apple products. Oct 16, 2013 at 7:32

1 Answer 1


The way that iPhoto works is that unlike other photo managers (i.e., Adobe Bridge) is that iPhoto creates it's own unique library that is usually stored in your Pictures folder as a single file, where as other applications directly access the photos themselves in your User directory. When you import photos into iPhoto, it generally copies those photos into the library, or in your case since you have that option disabled, it creates a symbolic link, or shortcut much like the ones you would find on a desktop, to that file/picture that you imported. When you delete or move the photo from the location that it was imported, the next time you open iPhoto and try to access that particular file, it will open the shortcut, but the link will have nowhere to go and iPhoto will prompt you and ask if you want to find that photo. Essentially, iPhoto cannot sync with your filesystem as it maintains its own.

In my experience iPhoto isn't really the best for photography because of the way that it manages photos. It's really best suited for the casual vacation photographer who does minimal to no editing. If you're going to be using external applications, I recommend that you use an application, like Adobe Bridge, that works directly with your filesystem directory. If you want to continue using iPhoto, then I would recommend that you copy your photos into the iPhoto Library and set iPhoto to use external photo editors instead of the built in one. But that's just my honest opinion. Keep in mind tho, if you do copy your photos to iPhoto, then you will want to keep a backup of those photos separate from iPhoto. I've had instances where the Library file would become corrupt and I lost photos even after repairing the file.

Hope this helps. Good luck.

  • Just remembered that there might be another option. You may be able to look into an Automator workflow to have iPhoto automatically scan through your photos and delete any links that don't have a locatable source file. Just another option that could be your solution.
    – JoshT
    Oct 20, 2013 at 12:27

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