iPhoto Library Manager > Help > Merging libraries

Merging libraries

iPhoto Library Manager allows you to merge the contents of multiple libraries together into one, while preserving all your albums, events, and photo metadata. For a full list of what items can and can't be copied (which varies depending on what version of iPhoto you're using), look here.

To begin a merge, click the "Merge Libraries" toolbar button, or select "Merge Libraries" from the Library menu. This will present you with the following view for setting up your merge:

There are four main parts to setting up your merge

Choose Source Libraries

To specify one or more libraries whose contents you would like to merge into another library, drag the libraries from the library list on the left and drop them onto the area labelled “Choose Source Libraries”

Choose Destination Library

Then, you must specify what iPhoto library you want to receive all the photos and other content you're merging. You can either drag one of your existing libraries to where it says "Drop destination library here", or if you wish your existing libraries to be merged into a brand new library, click the "Merge into a new, empty library" button. You will then be prompted to choose a name and location on your hard drive to store the new library. If you wish to change this location later, just click the "Change location" button to do so.

Duplicate Handling

When merging libraries, iPhoto Library Manager provides an option to only import a single copy of any photos which are duplicates and appear multiple times among the libraries being merged together. If the “Eliminate “duplicates while merging checkbox is off, then all photos will be imported, regardless of whether they are duplicates. Similar to when using the Find Duplicates command, you can specify a list of criteria for iPLM to use when deciding which photo from a group of duplicate photos should be kept. You can read more about how these criteria work in the duplicate rules chapter of the manual.

Note that unlike when using Find Duplicates, you do not specify an actions (e.g. flagging, moving to trash, etc.) when merging, since iPLM is simply using the rules to choose a single photo to import from each group of duplicate photos. You can read more about how this works in the Handling Duplicates When Copying section of the manual.

You are also given some options to customize how iPhoto Library Manager determines that two photos are duplicates of one another. You can read more about these in the Choosing keepers with duplicate rules section.

When merging into an existing iPhoto library, if a group of duplicate photos contains one photo that is already in the destination library, that photo will always be the one to be kept rather than a photo from any of the source libraries being merged. The reason for this is because there is not a reliable way to replace an existing photo with a different one in iPhoto, including making sure that photo appears in the correct place in albums, keepsake items, web galleries, and other various aspects of the library structure. The best way around this limitation is to merge into a new library rather than an existing library.


Some other options are configurable when setting up your merge:

Once you have set up your merge, click the "Preview" button to advance to the preview screen, where you can see what the results of your merge will look like.

Merging tips and tricks

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