A new update for PowerPhotos is available today, to version 2.4. The main focus of this release is providing better handling for incomplete/missing items in a Photos library.
What exactly is an incomplete item?
Whenever you import a photo/video into your Photos library, there are potentially multiple photos/videos associated with each item in the library behind the scenes. For example, when you edit a photo, Photos does not directly modify the original photo, but instead creates a separate edited version of the photo alongside the original. This is what allows you to go back later and change your edits or discard them entirely using the “Revert to Original” command. Another example is a Live Photo, which has both a photo and a video component but is displayed as a single item in the library.
An incomplete item is one where there are supposed to be multiple components present, but one or more of them is missing. In the example above, if the edited version of the photo is present on disk but the original is missing, then PowerPhotos would consider this to be an incomplete item. If neither version is present, then it will be considered a missing item.
When do incomplete items occur?
The most common example happens if you have your library syncing with iCloud Photos and are using the “Optimize Mac Storage” option. With this setup, Photos will only download a small thumbnail used while browsing. Photos will only download the full size original when it needs to, e.g. when you go to view or edit an individual photo.
Normally this is fine, because Photos will handle downloading photos and other pieces of data as needed behind the scenes. However, if you make a copy of your Photos library (e.g. by copying using the Finder, using the Duplicate Library command in PowerPhotos, or making a backup with Time Machine or other backup software) that copy of the library will not have its own copies of the full size original photos. Since that copy of the library is not syncing with iCloud Photos, those originals cannot be downloaded on demand, meaning that the library may have quite a number of incomplete items.
How does PowerPhotos handle these?
In previous versions of PowerPhotos when it tried to copy a photo/video that was missing some of its data like this, it would log some generic errors to its log file and fail to copy anything across, which was not exactly ideal when it came to understanding what was going on.
In PowerPhotos 2.4, it will detect missing/incomplete items at the beginning of an attempted copy or merge, and do the following:
- The merge report that gets displayed when previewing your merge now includes columns saying how many incomplete/missing items are present in the libraries you’re trying to merge.
- For incomplete items, PowerPhotos will now try to copy whatever data it can find, rather than producing an error and not copying anything at all for the incomplete item. In the example above, now if an original photo is missing but an edited version is still present, PowerPhotos will copy the edited version by itself instead of copying nothing at all.
- An option is also included in the merge setup screen and the Settings window that lets you choose to skip incomplete items altogether.
- More detailed information for incomplete/missing items is now output to PowerPhotos’ log files, rather than a generic error indicating an import failure.
For more detailed info on incomplete/missing items, you can also read more in the PowerPhotos documentation here.
PowerPhotos 2.4 is a free update, and requires macOS 12 Monterey or later. Users already running 2.x can use the “Check For Updates” menu item within the app to download and install the new version, or grab the latest version from the PowerPhotos web page.