Normally, when using Photos on your Mac, you have a single Photos library that holds all of your photos. As your library grows over time, it can become hard to manage, and Photos can get slower due to the large number of photos in the library. PowerPhotos lets you instead divide your photo collection among multiple Photos libraries. This allows for more fine grained organization, as well as improving the performance of Photos when browsing and editing. If you sync your photos with iCloud Photos, creating separate libraries lets you keep a smaller selection synced with iCloud, while still keeping the bulk of your photos on your Mac. You can also easily browse and search your photos and find duplicate photos in your libraries.
There are four main parts to the PowerPhotos window:
Library list: This is a list of the photo libraries that PowerPhotos knows about. The “+” button lets you create a new, empty library, or add existing Photos libraries to PowerPhotos. You can rename the items in the list by selecting the library, then clicking the name and typing in a new name. The “-” button lets you remove a library from your library list (though the library will remain where it is on your hard drive).
Album list: This displays the list of albums and moments in the selected library. You can select an album or moment to view the photos it contains in the photo browser on the right.
Photo browser: The photo browser takes up the majority of the window, and allows you to browse through the actual photos stored in whatever library you have selected. There is both a grid view, which lets you browse photos much like in Photos, and a list view, which provides an easy way to view your photos’ attributes, such as dates, ratings, keywords, etc. The View menu contains options for sorting and viewing different photo attributes.
Info pane: The pane in the lower left corner of the window will show more detailed information about whatever item you currently have selected in the window. This can display information for a photo, an album or moment, or a library, depending on what you have selected most recently.
PowerPhotos can be run from anywhere on your hard drive, though usually you’ll want to store it in the Applications folder, along with the rest of the applications on your Mac. Once you’ve downloaded the PowerPhotos.zip file to your Mac, Safari should automatically unzip it in your Downloads folder. You can drag PowerPhotos from there into your Applications folder to install it. To uninstall, drag PowerPhotos from your hard drive to the trash. If you are upgrading a previous version of PowerPhotos, you can simply replace the old version with the new one, and your list of libraries and all your settings will be retained automatically. You can also use the “Check For Updates” menu item from within PowerPhotos to automatically check for, download, and install new updates.
PowerPhotos requires macOS 10.14 or later. PowerPhotos does not run on iPhone or iPad.
Many of the features of PowerPhotos work without a registration code, but if you find PowerPhotos useful and/or wish to use some of the advanced features only available to registered users, a license can be purchased for $29.95 by clicking the “Purchase Now” button in the upper right corner of the main window, or online at https://store.fatcatsoftware.com. The differences between a licensed and an unlicensed copy of the program is outlined below
|Create new libraries||Yes||Yes|
|Use existing libraries||Yes||Yes|
|Find duplicate photos||Find duplicates only||Mark duplicate photos for deletion|
|Copy photos, albums, and moments||20 photos at a time||Unlimited photo copying|
|Merge libraries||Preview only||Yes|
|Delete photos||20 photos at a time||Unlimited photo deletion|
|Migrate iPhoto libraries||2 libraries at a time||Unlimited libraries at a time|
Unregistered copies of PowerPhotos can be used on as many computers as you’d like. A license for PowerPhotos is for a single user, but allows for use on two machines (e.g. a desktop and a laptop). If you intend have more than one user using the registration-only features of the program, you should purchase a registration code for each person who will be using the program. If you buy a code for multiple users, the number of users the registration covers will be shown in the registration window.
Licenses for iPhoto Library Manager 4 and PowerPhotos are interchangeable. If you previously owned iPLM 4, you can use the same serial number you received to register PowerPhotos as well. If you have iPhoto Library Manager already installed on your machine, PowerPhotos will automatically read your existing iPLM registration. Otherwise, you can manually enter your name and serial number into the registration window in PowerPhotos. If you need to retrieve your registration information, visit our https://www.fatcatsoftware.com/lost_license/.
Similarly, if you purchased PowerPhotos, you can use that serial number with iPLM 4 too, if you should need to do any work with your iPhoto libraires before migrating them over to Photos.
Photos stores all of the photos and information about your photo collection in a Photos library. When viewing a Photos library in the Finder, it appears as a single icon, known as a package, but in reality, that package contains a whole hierarchy of folders and files inside of it. When you import photos into Photos, they are copied by Photos into the library package, and Photos takes care of organizing them within that library and keeping track of where they are. Photos also creates a handful of its own data files in the library along with the photos themselves. These files contain information such as how you have your photos organized into albums, the title, favorites, keywords, and other information you assign to your photos, and much more.
A Photos library is a self-contained unit, so all the photos and related data are all stored within that one library package. This means that you can backup, move, or copy the library by simply copying or moving the library package using the Finder, just like you would copy any other file or folder.
Typically, while working with Photos, it keeps all the details of the library package hidden from you. You can just use Photos’ interface to manage your photos, and you never even need to look inside the Photos library package itself. However, in some cases, especially if you encounter problems with your Photos library, in can be useful to know a little bit more about what goes on inside the library. If you wish to delve into the library package’s contents, you can do so by control-clicking on it in the Finder and selecting “Show Package Contents” from the contextual menu. If you choose to do so though, do not move, rename, or delete any items within the library package. Altering the library contents in this manner can cause Photos to become very confused, and thus is not recommended.
If you have been using iPhoto Library Manager to keep track of your iPhoto libraries, PowerPhotos can help you with your move to using the new Photos app.
Migrating your iPhoto libraries
In order to see your libraries in PowerPhotos, you will first need to migrate your libraries from iPhoto to Photos. PowerPhotos can assist with this process if you select “Migrate iPhoto Libraries” from the File menu. The migration assistant will list all the iPhoto libraries on your machine and let you migrate any number of libraries to Photos in succession. You can read in more detail about how this works at Migrating iPhoto and Aperture libraries.
If you have already migrated some or all of your libraries before downloading PowerPhotos, you can also select “Add Existing Library” from the File menu to add any of your existing Photos libraries to the PowerPhotos library list.
Merging, rebuilding, or copying photos between your libraries
Just as iPhoto Library Manager can copy and merge photos between iPhoto libraries, PowerPhotos can be used to copy/merge with Photos libraries. Due to limitations in the new Photos app, there are some pieces of data that iPLM could copy that PowerPhotos cannot. You can read more about that in Copying limitations. There is no way to copy photos directly between an iPhoto library and a Photos library. You must first take the iPhoto library and migrate it to Photos, then copy the photos from the migrated library to your other Photos library.
PowerPhotos 1.x is being made available for free for all existing iPhoto Library Manager customers, so you can just use your existing iPhoto Library Manager serial number in PowerPhotos to register your copy. Read more about registering PowerPhotos here.
Feature comparison The feature sets of iPhoto Library Manager and PowerPhotos are slightly different. Below is a summary of the features each program supports.
|iPhoto Library Manager||PowerPhotos|
|Manage multiple libraries||Yes||Yes|
|Browse and view metadata||Yes||Yes|
|View and reveal full size photos||Yes||Yes|
|Search across multiple libraries||Yes||Yes|
|Copy photos between libraries||Yes||Yes|
|Rebuild corrupt libraries||Yes||No|
|Find duplicate photos||Yes||Yes|
|Migrate iPhoto libraries||No||Yes|
To create a new library, either click the “+” button in the PowerPhotos window and select “Create New Library”, or select “New Library” from the File menu. You will be prompted to choose a name and location for the new library. When the library is first created, it will initially be empty, with no photos. To open your newly created library, double click on it, and PowerPhotos will open the library in Photos for you.
If you have a Photos library already on your disk, you can add it to your list by clicking the “+” button and selecting “Add Existing Library”, or by selecting “Add Existing Library” from the File menu. PowerPhotos will automatically search your computer using Spotlight for any libraries that are not already in your library list. You can select one or more libraries from the list it displays and then click “Add” to add those libraries to your library list.
Spotlight is not able to search some drives, such as network drives or other drives excluded from Spotlight indexing. If a library you want to add does not appear in the search results, click the “Choose Manually…” button, and that will let you select a specific library to add to the list.
To remove a library from your list, select it then either click the “-“ button or select “Remove Library” from the File menu. Note that this will only remove the entry for the library in the list and will not delete any of your files from the disk. If you really do want to move the library to the trash, you can hold down the option and shift keys, and the “Remove Library” command will change to “Delete Library” instead. This will both remove the library from the library list and move the library to the trash for you. Note that you’ll still need to empty the trash via the Finder or Dock in order to delete the library permanently.
By default, PowerPhotos will warn you when you are about to remove a library from your list. If desired, you can turn this warning off in the preferences.
If you want to make an exact copy of one of your libraries, either as a backup or as part of moving a library to another disk, you can do so one of two ways.
Referenced Photos If you have unchecked the “Copy items to the Photos library” checkbox in the Advanced section of Photos’ preferences, then when you import photos into your library, those photos don’t get copied into the library package, but are instead referenced in whatever folder they were originally stored in.
Any such referenced photos will not be copied when duplicating the library. The duplicate copy of the library will simply reference the same photos in the same external locations. If you’re duplicating the library with the intention of transferring it to another machine, the duplicate library will not be able to find any of the external photos if they are not available from that machine.
If you want to fully copy a library with referenced photos, you can first use the File > Consolidate menu item in Photos to copy your referenced photos into the library package. When you then duplicate the library, all the photos will be included in the duplicate copy.
iCloud Photos If you have a library that has iCloud Photos enabled, then it is possible that the library will not have downloaded all the full size versions of each photo from iCloud at the time you duplicate the library. This is almost always true when the “Optimize Mac Storage” option is enabled in Photos’ preference, but can also be the case for a small number of photos even if “Download Originals” is checked instead.
If you duplicate such a library, then when you first open the duplicate copy of the library, Photos will tell you that it has to “Delete Incomplete Items” from the library before it can be opened. This process removes any photos that had not been fully downloaded before the library was duplicated. Unfortunately Photos does not tell you exactly how many photos will be affected before doing so, so the only way to know is to let it delete the incomplete items, and check the photo count of the library afterwards. This process does not affect your original iCloud library though, only the copy of the library that you’re working with here.
Duplicate a library on an APFS volume Apple introduced a new volume format called APFS (Apple File System) starting in macOS High Sierra. APFS supports a feature called “cloning” that can save space when making copies of large files and folders. Instead of making a separate copy of all the library data up front when duplicating a library, a “clone” is made that references the same data as the original library. As further changes are made to one copy of the library or the other, APFS will automatically copy individual files as they are modified, making sure that the changes you make to one library don’t apply to both libraries.
The end result of this is that:
If you wish to move one of your libraries to a new location on a single drive, PowerPhotos will automatically track the library when you do so. Select the library you want to move in PowerPhotos and select “Reveal Library in Finder” from the File menu to show the library in the Finder. Then, use the Finder and move the library to the new location on the drive. You will see PowerPhotos update the path for that library as soon as you bring its main window back to the front.
If you wish to move your library from one drive to another, you will need to copy the folder to the new drive and then add the copied library to PowerPhotos’ list. After you have opened up the newly copied library with Photos and confirmed that it displays correctly, you can go ahead and delete the original copy of the library. Another way to do this is to use PowerPhotos’ “Duplicate Library” command in the File menu to make a copy of the selected library on another drive.
If you try to move a library that is currently open in Photos, or try to move the system library, the Finder will put up a window saying it’s “preparing to move” the library. This window will remain open as long as the library is in use, so you will need to quit Photos first if the library is open there in order for the move operation to proceed. If the library is set as the system photo library, you will need to change Photos to use a different system photo library before you will be able to perform the move.
You can assign any name you wish to each of your libraries in the list by first selecting the library, and then clicking on its name to begin editing it (just like renaming a file in the Finder). Alternately, you can control-click on the library and select “Rename Library” from the contextual menu that pops up.
When you first add a library to PowerPhotos, it will be given the same name as the library package has in the Finder. The Finder name and the name in PowerPhotos are separate though, so you can change one without having to change the other. For example, if you’ve added a library that belongs to another user, and that library is named simply “Photos Library”, you can give it a different name in PowerPhotos such as “Bob’s Library” without affecting the name of the actual library on disk.
When renaming a library in PowerPhotos, you have the option to either just change the name as it appears in PowerPhotos, or also change the name of the library on disk at the same time. You can control this setting in the preferences window.
You can also change the name of the library on disk via the Finder. When you bring PowerPhotos to the front, it should see the change and update the path for the library to point at the new location. PowerPhotos will not automatically change its own display name for the library in this case.
If a library shows up in red in the list, it means that the package for that library does not exist on the disk (e.g. it was moved or deleted), or the disk the library resides on is not currently available. If the library is kept on another disk, insert or connect the disk, and the library name should change back to black, indicating the library is now available. If it’s a library that you intentionally deleted or no longer need to access, you can use the “Remove Library” command to remove the library from the list.
To share your Photos library across a network, you first need to decide where the library itself will be stored. Choose which computer will hold the library, then open System Preferences on that computer and enable Personal File Sharing in the Sharing pane. Details on enabling file sharing on macOS can be found on Apple’s support site at these links:
How to connect with File Sharing on your Mac
Once that’s done, go to another computer that you’d like to access the library from and go the Finder. To connect to the shared computer, follow the directions on Apple’s support site at:
Connect to shared computers and file servers on a network
When you connect to the remote machine, it’s easiest to log in with your default admin username and password, since that will let you access any hard drive on the machine, and thus let you store your photos anywhere you want on the machine. Once you’re connected, you can open up PowerPhotos and set up your machine to use the remote library. Note that Photos requires both read and write access to a library in order to open it, even if you don’t intend to actually make any changes, so make sure you log in as a user that is able to modify the library.
If you have a Photos library set up on the remote machine that you want to use on your machine, all you have to do is add the library from the network drive to PowerPhotos just like you would any other library, either by clicking the “Add Existing Library” button or by dragging the library into the library list. Once the library shows up in PowerPhotos, you can access it just like any other library.
When accessing this library, the machine where the library is stored must be awake and available on the network, and the other machine must be connected to that machine via file sharing, otherwise Photos may display an error when you try to open the library. PowerPhotos will automatically attempt to connect to the remote machine when you try to open the library. The machine still must already be awake for this to work, and you’ll need to type in the appropriate username/password to connect to the machine, but this can save you from having to remember to connect to the machine manually before opening the library.
Note: whichever library is designated the “System library” on the Mac where the library is stored will effectively always be open by macOS in the background. Since there is no way to fully close the library in this case, your system library cannot be opened from another Mac. If you wish to access a library from more than one Mac, you must designate another library to be your system library instead. This also means there is no way to create a setup where a library is both synced with iCloud and accessible locally from multiple Macs.
PowerPhotos lets you manage multiple Photos libraries, but only one of your libraries can be open in Photos at any given time. In your list of libraries, whichever library has a green checkmark appearing next to it is the active Photos library. Opening Photos, either by using the “Open Photos” button in PowerPhotos, or by clicking on Photos in the Finder or on the dock, will display the active library in Photos.
To switch to another library, just double click the library’s icon in PowerPhotos, and it will take care of quitting Photos, changing the active library, and then reopening Photos to display the library that you double clicked. PowerPhotos keeps a separate copy of your Photos preferences for each of your libraries, and will swap the preferences whenever it switches to a different library. This allows you to have different settings in the Photos preferences window on a per-library basis.
An alternate method is to double click the library itself in the Finder to open that library up in Photos. This works, but using this method will not swap out the Photos preferences like PowerPhotos does when switching libraries.
If you have multiple Photos libraries, at any given time there will be only one that is designated as the System Photo Library. This library is the one that is made available by macOS for other applications to access directly. This library will appear in the photo browser in apps like Mail, iMovie, and Pages, as well as other services like your screen saver preferences. Applications that offer to import into Photos will import into the system library. The system library is also the only library that can be synced with iCloud.
To specify which library you want to be the system photo library, open the library in Photos, open the preferences window, and click the “Use as System Photo Library” button. (if the button is disabled, that means the library is already the system photo library) Simply opening a library in Photos will not switch the system photo library, so you can feel free to open and work with other libraries without changing which library is set as the system photo library.
For more information on the system photo library, visit this support article on Apple’s website.
Apple offers a service called iCloud Photos that allows you to easily sync the photos you have on your Mac with those you take on your iPhone, iPad, or even another Mac. Using iCloud Photos is optional, and is off by default - you can store your photos on your Mac without doing any syncing to iCloud if you wish.
Only one library can be synced with iCloud at any given time. You must first designate that library as the system photo library in Photos’ preferences, at which point you can enable iCloud Photos, also in Photos’ preferences. When viewing your libraries in PowerPhotos, an “iCloud Library” label will appear below the library’s name.
There are currently not any options provided by Photos to sync a subset of your library with iCloud - it’s all or nothing. PowerPhotos can help with this limitation by allowing you to create separate libraries to store the photos that you don’t want to have synced with iCloud. For example, if you just want a relatively small selection of photos to sync with iCloud, you can set up a library just for that, then store the bulk of your photos in other libraries that are not synced. This helps save storage space used on your iCloud account.
Optimize Mac Storage Photos also provides an option to “Optimize Mac Storage” when using iCloud Photos. When enabled, if your disk starts to run low on free space, Photos will not store the full size original versions of photos on your Mac. It instead leaves the full size copies on iCloud, and only downloads the ones it needs on demand (e.g. when you view or edit a particular photo). When you have this option enabled, PowerPhotos will only be able to display photos that are fully downloaded on your Mac. Other photos in the library will not appear at all in the PowerPhotos image browser.
In addition to iCloud Photos, Photos offers two other way to transfer photos between devices: My Photo Stream and Shared Albums. These two features can be enabled or disabled independently of iCloud Photos, but like iCloud Photos, they can only be enabled for your system photo library. Photos from these sharing options will not appear in PowerPhotos.
One of the primary uses of Photos is to import and organize photos you have taken with your digital camera. There are a couple things you should know about how this works when you have multiple Photos libraries.
If you have Photos set up to launch automatically as soon as your plug your camera in, this will cause Photos to open whichever library you had last chosen to work with in Photos. This can sometimes cause the wrong library to be opened up, at which point you have to quit Photos, go open up PowerPhotos, switch to the correct library, and then open up Photos again. If this happens to you a lot, you might want to instead set PowerPhotos to open up when you attach your camera rather than Photos. This way, you can be sure that you have the right library selected before opening up Photos, and avoid importing photos into the wrong library.
To set this up, open up the Image Capture application located in your main Applications folder on your hard drive. Plug in your camera, and it should appear in the “Devices” section. Select the device, then use the pop-up menu at the bottom of the list and select “Other…”, at which point you can select PowerPhotos in your Applications folder, and click OK. Now, when you plug in your digital camera, PowerPhotos should automatically open instead of Photos. Note: on some systems, even after selecting PowerPhotos to open, the pop-up menu may still read “No Application”, but PowerPhotos will still launch when plugging in the camera.
It is common for Mac users to want to store their photo libraries in a folder managed by a cloud syncing services, such as Dropbox, Box, or Google Drive (just to name a few). Theoretically, having your library stored here would allow you to access your whole photo collection from multiple Macs and keep them easily synced. Unfortunately, the Photos library format is not designed with this in mind, and storing your library in one of these services can result in corruption of your library. This is not due to any fault of the cloud services provider: the library format simply doesn’t mesh well with the per-file syncing engine used by these services. It is highly recommended that you do not store your library in one of the folders managed by a cloud syncing service.
Apple’s own iCloud Drive feature (not to be confused with the iCloud Photos feature of the Photos app) has similar issues to the ones experienced with third party cloud syncing services, but the behavior you’ll see is slightly different, and depends on what version of macOS you have installed. On Yosemite and El Capitan, both Photos and PowerPhotos will simply refuse to create a new library in iCloud Drive. On Sierra and later, it will allow you to create a library in iCloud Drive, but you will see a small￼ icon next to the library in the Finder, indicating that the item is “ineligible” for iCloud Drive syncing. Your library will remain there and function fine, but its contents will not sync to iCloud at all, and you will not see it appear on other Macs you use with iCloud Drive.
Simply put, if you wish to sync your photo collection across multiple Macs, iCloud Photos is the best solution available.
The grid view of the photo browser allows you to look through your photos much like you do in Photos, with your photos arranged in a grid, showing a small preview of each photo with some basic information below the photo itself. The slider in the lower right corner allows you to change the size of the photos, and selecting an individual photo will display that photo’s information in the info pane in the lower left corner of the window.
You can customize the appearance of the grid view by using the various commands available in the View menu. These include:
In addition to the Photos-style grid view, PowerPhotos also provides a list view, which is useful when you’re more interested in looking through your photos’ attributes, such as keywords, faces, descriptions, and so forth. You can switch between grid view and list view using the control in the upper right, next to the search field.
You can customize the appearance of list view using the commands available in the View menu. These include:
In both grid view and list view, PowerPhotos provides a few different options for seeing the full size version of one of your photos.
If you double click a photo, or select one or more photos then hit the space bar, that will open a QuickLook panel that shows you the full size version of the selected photo(s). Note that the QuickLook panel has a button that lets you expand it to fill the screen, which can be useful for a quick, full screen slideshow of multiple photos.
If you want to reveal the actual photo file in the Finder, control-click on a photo, and select either “Show File” or “Show Original File”.
If you want to do something with a particular photo in Photos itself, control-click on the photo, and choose “Select in Photos”. That will open up that library in Photos and select the image in Photos’ main window, so you can then do whatever you want with it.
In the lower left corner of the window, you’ll find the information pane, which will display detailed information about whatever object you have selected in the rest of the window. You can use this to see information for a library, album, moment, or individual photo. The following information is displayed here:
Libraries: the library’s name, version, size, and location on your computer.
The size shown is for the entire library package, including all of Photos’ own data files. Note that this size will be larger than the size shown in Photos itself, which only adds up the space taken up by the photos themselves.
If you see “From unsupported macOS version” in the Version field, that means that the library is from a version of macOS not yet supported by the copy of PowerPhotos you have installed. The most common instances would be a very recently release patch or a public beta build of an upcoming macOS version. If you are running a non-beta macOS, select the “Check For Updates” menu item to download the latest version of PowerPhotos.
Albums: the album’s name and description, and the number and size of the photos it contains.
Moments: the moment’s name, date, and description, and the number and size of the photos it contains.
Photos: all of the photo’s attributes (name, date, favorite, keywords, description, faces, place, kind, and size) as well as the full paths to both the original and edited versions of the image.
The search field in the upper right hand corner of the window allows you to search your Photos libraries for photos directly from within PowerPhotos. Simply type the text you’d like to search for in the search field, and your photos will be filtered down to only show those matching what you typed.
By default, all supported attributes are searched for the text you typed in. This includes the photo’s title, filename, description, keywords, faces, place, and the names of the albums/event to which the photo belongs. Once you’ve started a search, a search scope bar will appear at the top of the photo browser. You can narrow your search to look at just a single attribute (e.g. faces, keywords, etc.) by clicking that attribute’s name in the scope bar.
To cancel your search and resume normal photo browsing, click the “X” button located inside the search field.
In addition to searching a single library, PowerPhotos can also search all your libraries at once, by clicking the “All Libraries” button in the search scope bar. This will begin a search in all the libraries in your library list, and display all photos matching the search in the photo browser. A progress indicator is displayed next to each library’s name in the library list while the search is still in progress for that library, then once the search has completed for that library, a number will be displayed next to the library name, showing how many photos in that particular library match the search criteria.
You can customize the display of your search results in many of the same ways as when you’re just browsing a single library. There are a few differences:
When browsing in PowerPhotos, you may sometimes find a set of photos you’d like to do something with, such as editing or deleting them. While these operations can’t be done directly in PowerPhotos, what you can do instead is create an album that contains a selection of photos, then open that album in Photos and do whatever you want with them there.
To create an album, first select the photos you’d like to work with in the PowerPhotos photo browser. Then, control-click one of the photos and select “Create Album With Selection” from the menu that comes up. You’ll be prompted to enter a name for the new album, then PowerPhotos will open the library, create the new album, and populate it with the photos you selected.
macOS 10.15 Catalina or later
To delete photos from one of your libraries, select them then either press command-delete or control-click the photos and select “Delete Photos” from the menu that appears. The photos will be deleted from the library, which will also remove them from any albums they belong to.
The photos are not deleted permanently when doing this though, but rather are moved to the “Recently Deleted” album in the library and will be automatically deleted by Photos after 30 days. If you wish to immediately delete the photos (e.g. to free up disk space), open the library in Photos, select the “Recently Deleted” album, then click the “Delete All” button in the upper right.
You can also “undelete” photos from the Recently Deleted album by selecting them and clicking the “Recovery” button. This will move the photos back into the main library, and add them back into any albums they belonged to before they were deleted.
macOS 10.14 Mojave or earlier
Due to technical limitations, photos cannot be deleted directly from PowerPhotos on earlier versions of macOS. Instead, double click your library to open it in the Photos app, then delete whatever photos you want from there.
Using the Find Duplicates feature in PowerPhotos consists of three main steps.
Searching for duplicates The first step is to tell PowerPhotos what libraries you would like to search for duplicate photos, and how you would like it to compare photos to determine whether they are duplicates or not. You can read about this step in “Starting the duplicate finding process”. Once you start the duplicate finding process, PowerPhotos will perform an analysis of your photos and try to determine which photos are duplicates of each other. The result of the analysis is a list of duplicate groups. Each duplicate group contains two or more photos which have been identified as duplicates of one another. These groups will be shown to you in PowerPhotos’ duplicate browser.
Choosing keepers Next, PowerPhotos will choose a keeper from each duplicate group. You can customize how keepers are chosen from each duplicate group by choosing a duplicate rule, which will look at various attributes of the duplicate photos and choose one of them based on those attributes. A bunch of built-in duplicate rules are included with PowerPhotos, or you can create your own custom duplicate rule. You can read about this step in “Choosing keepers with duplicate rules”.
Trashing duplicates After choosing which photo(s) you want to keep from each group, the rest will be marked to be trashed. You can read about this step in “Deleting your duplicate photos”.
To begin finding duplicate photos in your Photos libraries, either click the magnifying glass button in the toolbar, or select “Find Duplicates” from the Library menu. This will present you with a view to set up your duplicate finding.
There are two areas you need to set up to begin your duplicate search
What to search The Find Duplicates command can search one or more Photos libraries at once, looking for duplicate photos. To search a library, drag it from the library list on the left into the area labelled “Choose Libraries to Search”. To remove a library, click the X next to its name.
You also have the option to exclude certain photos from being included in the search. Click the “Exclusions…” button, and you will be given the option to skip looking at photos that are already in the “PowerPhotos duplicate trash” album (e.g. if you performed a previous duplicate search already), or are marked as hidden.
How to compare photos PowerPhotos has two methods that you can use to compare photos to each other and determine whether they are duplicates. Refer to the duplicate comparison options chapter for details on how these work.
Once you’ve set up your search, click the blue “Begin Duplicate Search” button in the upper right corner of the window, and PowerPhotos will begin analyzing your libraries for duplicate photos.
When copying photos, merging libraries, and searching for duplicate photos, you are given some options that let you control exactly how PowerPhotos identifies duplicate photos in your libraries.
Note that there can be some cases where there are two photos that look the same visually to the human eye, but are not actually identical, e.g. if one copy is a scaled down version of the other. Since they are not 100% identical though, the “Exact match” option won’t identify them as duplicates. The filename + date search can help find these sometimes, but if either one of those pieces of information has also been changed, then there’s no easy way left for PowerPhotos to tell that the two photos “look” the same.
Once PowerPhotos has determined which photos are duplicates, it will display those duplicates to you so you can see what it has found.
Your duplicate groups are displayed in a grid, with each group separated from the others. Just like when browsing a regular library, you can zoom in and out on the photos, select an individual photo to see its attributes in the information pane, and so forth.
Once your duplicate rule has successfully chosen keepers from your duplicates, icons will appear above each photo.
- indicates the photo has been chosen as the keeper for that duplicate group
￼- indicates the photo will be trashed
The “View Log” button will display information logged by PowerPhotos during the duplicate analysis. This lets you see in more detail the paths of the photos that were identified as duplicates, which photos have been marked as keepers, and which ones will be marked to be trashed.
PowerPhotos uses a rule-based system to choose a keeper from each group of duplicate photos. The keeper will typically be the one photo that you want to keep around, with the rest of the duplicates getting moved to the trash, or having some other action performed on them. You can choose from several built-in duplicate rules using the pop-up menu down at the bottom of the window.
Once a rule has been chosen from the pop-up menu, PowerPhotos will evaluate all the duplicate groups based on that rule. In the duplicate browser, you will see a checkmark above whichever photo from each group has been chosen as the keeper.
The built-in duplicate rules include:
The built-in rules are a good start, but since everybody’s photo collection is unique, you may need to create a custom duplicate rule to choose keepers according to what makes the most sense for your own photos. To create a custom rule, click the rules pop-up menu and select “Edit Rules…” from the bottom of the menu. This will present you with the following window:
You can view (but not edit) the built-in rules to see how they are implemented. To create your own rule, click the gear button in the upper right and select “New Rule” from the menu that appears. If you’d like a rule similar to one of the built-in rules, select that rule from the pop-up menu, then click the gear button and select “Duplicate Rule” to make a copy of that built-in rule. You can specify a name for your new rule by typing it in the “Name” field.
Each duplicate rule is made up of one or more criteria that you’d like to use to compare the photos in each duplicate group. By evaluating these criteria, one or more photos from the group will be chosen as the keeper from that group. The criteria available to compare include the photos’ rating, modification date, size, format, and much more. See the Criteria Details section for more information.
Because in many cases the duplicate photos will also have identical values for many of these attributes, you can specify multiple criteria to evaluate the photos by. If the first criteria is identical for some or all the photos in the group, the evaluation will then proceed to the second criteria, and so on, until they have all been evaluated.
How rules are evaluated
In the example above, we have three photos that have been identified as duplicates by PowerPhotos, and the four criteria from the rule displayed above that were specified to evaluate the duplicate photos.
The first criterion says to choose whichever photo has a custom title. However, none of the photos have a custom title set, so this criteria does not choose any photos, and evaluation continues to the next criteria.
The second criterion says to prefer RAW photos over other formats such as JPG. There are two RAW photos in the duplicate group, and one JPG, so PowerPhotos will not choose the JPG as being the keeper. This leaves the two RAW photos as possible keepers, and we proceed to the next criterion.
The third criterion says to prefer photos that have been favorited. The photo in the middle is marked as a favorite, so that photo is choosen by PowerPhotos as the keeper.
Since we have now narrowed down the group to a single photo to keep, the fourth criteria is not needed, and is skipped. The middle photo is chosen as teh keeper and will appear with a checkmark over it in the duplicate browser, and the other two photos are marked to be trashed.
Single vs multiple keepers
By default, only a single photo is marked as a keeper from each duplicate group. If your duplicate rule does not narrow things down to just a single photo, then PowerPhotos will pick one of the remaining photos for you as the keeper. However, if you uncheck the “Always choose only a single keeper” checkbox, then all the photos that make it to the end of criteria evaluation will be marked as keepers.
For example, let’s say you have a duplicate group with two photos from “Library A”, and two photos from “Library B”, and that you have a duplicate rule set up with a single criteria that says “Library is Library A”. Both photos from Library B will be eliminated by the criteria, leaving just the two photos from Library A. If “Always choose only a single keeper” is checked, then PowerPhotos will only mark one of the two photos from Library A as a keeper; if it is unchecked, then both photos from library A are marked as keepers.
The following is a list of the criteria that can be used in duplicate rules to select photos from among a set of duplicates.
While duplicate rules provide a very flexible way to decide which duplicate photos to keep and get rid of, sometimes you may still want to make some decisions yourself, rather than leaving everything up to the automated rules.
You can do this by selecting one or more photos, then clicking either the “Keeper” or “Trash” button at the bottom of the window to mark your selection to either be kept or trashed. Alternately, you can also control-click a photo and use the contextual menu, or press the return key to toggle a photo between keeper and trash.
Note that while duplicate rules will always leave at least one keeper in each duplicate group, if you’re changing actions manually, it is possible to mark all photos from a group to be trashed. Be careful when doing this, since you want to be sure you’re not deleting all copies of a photo unless you really want to get rid of them all.
Once you’ve finished choosing which photos to keep and which to trash, click the “Trash Duplicates” button in the upper right corner to get rid of your duplicate photos. You can specify how to deal with your duplicate photos in the “Options” section at the bottom of the window.
Delete duplicate photos (requires macOS 10.15)
PowerPhotos can directly delete the duplicate photos from your library for you, so there are no additional steps you need to take. You will see an additional confirmation warning displayed by macOS before the deletion is finalized.
Keep albums intact
When deleting photos from your library, it’s possible that some of those photos currently belong to one or more albums in that library. Deleting the photos will also remove those photos from their albums, but with this option enabled, PowerPhotos will replace each deleted photo with the corresponding keeper photo from the same duplicate group. The end result is that all your albums will remain intact with the same number of photos even after doing your duplicate deletion.
Note that this option only applies when the trashed photo and the keeper belong to the same library. If your duplicate search spans multiple libraries (let’s call them “Library A” and “Library B”), then if the photo being trashed is in library A, and the keeper is in library B, then any albums in library A that contained the trashed photo will not have the photo be replaced.
Add duplicates to album
On earlier versions of macOS, Photos does not provide a mechanism for PowerPhotos to directly delete the duplicate photos that it has found, so the final step of deletion must be performed manually. You can also choose to use this option on macOS 10.15 if you’d rather not delete your photos right away.
PowerPhotos will create an album named “PowerPhotos duplicate trash” in your Photos library and populate it with all the photos that have been marked to be trashed. PowerPhotos will then walk you through the steps needed to delete the photos from the library. Note that all these steps are done in the Photos app, and not from within PowerPhotos.
1．Select Trash Album Bring Photos to the front and select the “PowerPhotos duplicate trash” album in your album list. PowerPhotos can perform this step for you by clicking the “Select the album for me button”.
2．Select All Photos Select all the photos in the “PowerPhotos duplicate trash” album, either by pressing command-a or choosing “Select All” from the Edit menu.
3．Delete Photos Press command-delete to move all the photos into the “Recently Deleted” album, removing them from the library. Note that just pressing the delete key alone will only remove the photos from the album, and not delete the from the library.
After deletion Once the photos have been deleted, they will remain in the “Recently Deleted” album until Photos permanently deletes them in 40 days. This gives you a chance to “undelete” them for a while in case you change your mind. You can do that by selecting the “Recently Deleted” album, selecting the photos you want to undelete, and clicking the “Recover” button. If you want to delete the photos right away to free up disk space, you can instead click the “Delete All” button, which will delete them immediately and permanently.
Here are a few tips and tricks that might be helpful when using PowerPhotos to deal with duplicate photos in your libraries.
Make sure to try out the various duplicate detection options to see which settings work best for your particular photo collection. For instance, if you are having some photos which you think should be identified as duplicates but aren’t, try enabling the “Also compare filename + date” option. This is more inclusive, and will identify photos that are not byte-for-byte matches of each other.
Duplicate rules can be very helpful in eliminating the laborious work of going through all the found duplicates and picking which one(s) you want to take action on. Some common examples include:
When keeping your photos separated in multiple libraries, you sometimes need to copy a set of photos from one library to another. With Photos, the only way to do this is to manually export the photos from one library, switch over to your other library, and then manually import them into that library. PowerPhotos provides a way to copy photos directly from one library to another in one step, while retaining photo metadata such as keywords, dates, favorites, titles, and descriptions.
To copy albums or moments to another library, select them in PowerPhotos, then drag them them onto the library you would like to copy them to. PowerPhotos will first collect the information about those photos from the source library, and then import those photos into the destination library and restore all the photo information as it was before. If you drag more than one album at once, and a photo belongs to more than one of those albums, the photo will only be imported once, but will be added to all the appropriate newly created albums in the destination library.
Note that you cannot drag albums from Photos itself into PowerPhotos - you must drag the albums from PowerPhotos’ own window in order to perform a copy. Also, only regular albums and folders can be copied as-is between libraries. Copying a smart album to another library will copy all the photos in that smart album, but a regular album will be created in the destination library containing those photos rather than a smart album. Copying “keepsake” items like calendars, books, and slideshows between libraries is not supported.
All copied photos will automatically be sorted into moments by Photos based on their dates and locations.
Unregistered users are limited to only copying albums/moments totalling no more than 20 photos.
In addition to copying albums or moments, you can also drag individual photos from the PowerPhotos image browser and drop them on another library in your library list to copy the photos and their metadata over. No albums will be recreated when doing this, but the photos will be automatically organized into moments by Photos based on their date and location.
To ensure that the extra photo information such as edits, titles, descriptions, keywords, dates, and favorites will come over, you should drag the photos from PowerPhotos’ image browser, and not from a Finder window or some other program that lets you drag files. If you drag from somewhere else, they will be treated as regular photos, and the extra information associated with them will not be brought into the destination library. It is also not possible to drag photos from the Photos app and drop them onto a library in PowerPhotos to copy them.
In addition to copying photos from another Photos library, you can also import new photos directly into one of your Photos libraries by dragging the photos from the Finder and dropping them onto a library in the PowerPhotos window. PowerPhotos will automatically open up the library they were dropped onto and import the photos in Photos for you.
Unlike when copying directly from another library, there will be no additional metadata such as ratings, keywords, etc. for PowerPhotos to copy across, though Photos will still recognize information embedded in the photos such as the date it was taken. This does still have the advantage of being more convenient than opening the library manually, plus you can still take advantage of PowerPhotos’ duplicate detection system when importing photos this way.
Additionally, if the folder you drop has your photos organized into a hierarchy of subfolders, PowerPhotos will recreate that same folder hierarchy as albums organized into folders in your photo library.
PowerPhotos allows you to merge the contents of multiple libraries together into one, while preserving all your albums, moments, and photo metadata. 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 Photos 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 to start a brand new library instead, 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, click the “Change location” button to do so.
Duplicate Handling When merging libraries, PowerPhotos provides an option to only import a single copy of any duplicate photos that occur 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. You’ll almost always want to leave this option enabled.
The “Duplicate comparison options” gives you control over how PowerPhotos looks for duplicates in the libraries being merged. You can find details on how these work in the “Starting A Duplicate Search“ chapter of the manual.
The “Choose which photos to merge by these criteria“ allows you to specify how PowerPhotos should decide which photo from a group of duplicate photos should be included in the merged library. You can read more about how these criteria work in the duplicate rules chapter of the manual.
Note that unlike when using Find Duplicates, the merge process never deletes any duplicate photos. PowerPhotos 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.
When merging into an existing Photos 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 Photos, including making sure that photo appears in the correct place in albums, projects, 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.
Combine contents of albums with same name. This option determines what to do if an album with a particular name is present in more than one library that’s being merged. For example, say you’re merging two libraries that both have an album named “Vacation”. If this option is checked, then a single “Vacation” album will be created in the merged library, with the combined contents of the two original “Vacation” albums. If unchecked, then each “Vacation” album will be copied separately, resulting in two albums in the merged library.
Copy the main Photos album from each source library. Each Photos library has a special “Photos” album at the top of the album list which shows every photo in the library. If this option is enabled, then PowerPhotos will create an additional album in the merged library that contains all the photos from the source library. So for example, if you’re merging two libraries named “2009” and “2010”, then your merged library will have two new albums named “Photos (from 2009)” and “Photos (from 2010)”, with each album containing all the photos from the 2009 and 2010 libraries, respectively.
Show Preview. By default, PowerPhotos will show you a preview of what the merged library will look like before it starts the actual merging process. You can disable this preview if you want PowerPhotos to automatically proceed to performing the merge without needing to approve it manually.
Copy unedited original, Copy edited JPGs, or Copy both images. Specifies whether to copy the current, edited version of each photo to the merged library, or the unedited original version. On macOS 10.15 or later, you can also select to copy both images with reversible edits intact. See the “Copying limitations” help page for more details on how this works.
Backing up your library. If you choose to merge into an existing library rather than a new one, you’ll be prompted with the option to make a backup copy of the destination library before proceeding with the merge. This is a convenience in case you end up wanting to revert back to the library in its pre-merge state.
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.
Whenever you use PowerPhotos to copy albums/moments or merge libraries, PowerPhotos will give you the opportunity to preview what the destination library will look like before actually proceeding to copy the photos over. You can browse the library preview just like you can do with a normal library, including both grid view and list view, customizable subtitles and columns, performing searches, and so on. This lets you inspect a number of aspects of what will be copied.
If there are photos that are missing from the library that they’re being copied from, any such photos will not be displayed when looking at the preview. PowerPhotos will log the locations of any missing photos, which you can find by clicking the “View Log” button in the upper right and reading the log messages shown there.
If you are performing a merge or copying photos and have specified to skip copying duplicate photos, a “View Duplicates” button will be visible in the upper right which you can click to view what duplicates PowerPhotos has found among the photos being copied. In each group of duplicate photos, a checkmark will appear above the photo which has been chosen to be included - the rest of the photos in the group will not be copied. Additionally, if you go to the View menu, and in the “Show Subtitle” submenu choose “Library”, that will show the name of each photo’s library of origin underneath that photo. (in list view, the submenu will be “Show Columns” instead of “Show Subtitle”)
The preview will show you what your albums and moments will look like in the destination library after the photos have been copied over, which lets you see the effects of several different settings. For instance, when merging, if you have the “Combine contents of albums with same name” option enabled, you can see how those albums will be combined.
Whenever you use PowerPhotos to copy photos or albums, merge libraries, or rebuild a library, you can have PowerPhotos attempt to detect duplicate photos in the photos being copied. This works much the same way as when you use the Find Duplicates command, except that once the duplicate analysis has been done, instead of taking specific actions on the duplicate photos (e.g. adding to an album, assigning keywords) one photo from each group of duplicates is chosen to be the one that is copied, and the rest of the duplicate photos will be skipped.
When looking at the preview of the photo copying you’re about to do, you can click the “View Duplicates” button in the upper right to see what duplicates were found among the photos being copied. In each group of duplicate photos, a white checkmark will be displayed over the photo which will be included when copied, and the rest of the photos in the group will not be copied. If any of the photos which are not being copied belong to any albums which are being copied, the checked photo will be added to that album in place of the other photo. If you wish to change which photo is used for a particular group, either control-click the photo and choose “Use This Photo” from the menu that comes up, or select the photo and press the return key.
Note that regardless of the duplicate criteria you specify, if one of the duplicate photos is located in the library that you are copying to, that photo will always be chosen over new photos that are being copied into the library. The reason for this is because, in order to use one of the other duplicate photos instead, the duplicate already in the library would need to be deleted from the library, then the new photo would need to be added to all the places in the destination library (e.g. the photo’s event, any albums it belongs to, any web galleries, slideshows, books, etc.) where the original photo was. Unfortunately this is not possible due to technical limitations with Photos, so we just keep the existing photo in preference to any photo being newly copied into the library.
Due to various technical limitations on what’s possible with the Photos app, there are some types of items and pieces of information that cannot be copied between libraries by PowerPhotos. Below is a summary of what can and cannot be copied, and some caveats that apply to certain types of items.
Fully supported: photos and videos, keeping keywords, descriptions, titles, dates, favorites, locations, bursts, and Live Photos intact; albums, folders, and moments.
Supported on macOS 10.15 Catalina or later: reversible photo edits
Partially supported: smart albums
Not supported: faces and projects
Photos and videos with basic metadata: Photos and videos can both be copied from one library to another. In addition, PowerPhotos will also copy each photo’s keywords, description, title, date, and favorite status over to the new library. Photos in the system photo library that are marked as hidden are not exposed to PowerPhotos and cannot be copied. Hidden photos in all other libraries can be copied.
Albums and folders: Both albums and folders will be copied between libraries, and populated with the same photos that they contained in the original library.
Smart albums: A smart album cannot be recreated with its rules intact when copying between libraries. If you copy a smart album, all of the photos in that smart album will be copied to the destination library, and a regular album will be created and populated with those photos.
Original and edited versions of photos: When you edit a photo in Photos, it actually keeps around two copies of the photo: the unedited original, and a new JPG version that contains your edits. This allows you to later discard your edits and revert to the original version of the photo if you wish. macOS 10.15 Catalina or later PowerPhotos can copy both the original and edited versions of each photo, keeping reversible edits intact in the destination library. macOS 10.14 Mojave or earlier Due to technical limitations, it’s not possible for PowerPhotos to copy both versions of the photo across to another library, such that you can revert the photo just like you can in the original library. PowerPhotos instead offers you the choice of which of the two you want to copy. You can make this choice in the PowerPhotos preferences window before starting your copy. If you choose to copy the unedited original, then your edits from the original library will not be transferred, and just the original photo will be copied. If you choose to copy the edited JPG, then only the edited version of the photo will be transferred. This setting will make no difference for any photos that have not been edited, since there is only one copy of the photo in that case. The original versions of video files will always be copied regardless of the setting you have chosen.
Bursts: If you have used burst mode on your iPhone to take a series of photos that is shown by Photos as a single burst, PowerPhotos can copy all the photos in the burst to another library. The Photos app will let you select your favorite photo from a burst to display separately from the burst. PowerPhotos will keep that photo separated in the copying process as well. Optionally, you can use the PowerPhotos preferences to only copy a single photo from each burst rather than copying every photo.
Live Photos: PowerPhotos supports copying Live Photos, preserving both the photo and the attached video that comes with it. This can be disabled in the preferences if you only want to copy the photo without the video.
Slo-mo videos: slo-mo videos will retain their ability to play in slow motion, but if you have made any customization to the range of time within the video that plays in slow motion, that will be reset to the default of the first few seconds and last seconds of the video playing at full speed, and the middle portion in slow motion.
Locations: Geographic locations can be assigned to your photos in two ways: either automatically by your camera/phone when you take the photo (embedded in the photo’s EXIF data), or manually, by assigning a location to photos using the Info window in Photos. PowerPhotos will preserve these locations in either case when copying photos between libraries.
Faces: Photos does not support assigning face names programatically, so any faces identification that has been performed will not be preserved when copying between libraries with PowerPhotos.
Projects: Photos projects such as books, calendars, and slideshows cannot be copied between libraries.
There are a few additional things you should consider if you’re copying or merging photos into the library you have syncing with iCloud Photos. If iCloud Photos is enabled when you do this, it will immediately start uploading any new photos that you copy into your library up to iCloud. This may not be desirable if you’re copying a large number of photos, especially if you want to double check your copy/merge results before committing to uploading the results to iCloud. Here are a couple techniques worth considering.
One approach you should be cautious with is merging multiple libraries, including your iCloud library, into a new, empty library. The downside to this is that none of the iCloud-specific syncing information associated with your photos will be copied into the new library. After finishing the merge, if you decide to enable iCloud Photos on the new merged library, Photos may have trouble matching up the photos in the merged library with the corresponding copies that are already in iCloud, resulting in duplicates of some or many of your photos. If you’re performing a merge that includes your iCloud library, it’s recommended that you use one of the two techniques above, as both of those methods will preserve the iCloud syncing information.
In many cases, e.g. when splitting up a library, you’ll find yourself wanting to move an album full of photos to another library instead of copying them. What this effectively means is first copying the photos to the new library, then deleting the photos from the old library. Unfortunately, Photos does not provide a way for third party apps such as PowerPhotos to delete photos from a library, so there is no way for PowerPhotos to implement a “move” feature in this manner.
This being the case, the best way available to perform a move is to copy the album using PowerPhotos, then go back and manually delete the photos from the original library. This is slightly tricky, since when you select photos in an album and press the “delete” key, it does not delete the photos from your library as a whole, it only removes them from the album. Deleting the album itself just deletes the album itself, and leaves the photos in your library. The trick is to select all the photos and hit command-delete, instead of just delete by itself. This will remove the photos from both the library and the album.
To entirely remove an album of photos from a library:
Whenever you perform any operation that alters a Photos library, such as finding duplicates, copying photos, or merging libraries, PowerPhotos will create a log file containing basic information about what’s going on as the copying takes place. You can access these log files by selecting “Show Logs” from the Window menu. In the folder that is revealed, you will see a separate log file for each copy operation that you’ve done using PowerPhotos. The name of each log file consists of the date and time that the operation began, followed by a brief description of the operation (e.g. “2009-04-09 093421-Merge (Hawaii, Florida) into ‘Vacation’.log”) The files will open by default in the Console application when you double click them, but they are just plain text files, and can be opened in any other program that can read text files, such as TextEdit or Microsoft Word. Log files that are older than thirty days will automatically be cleaned up by PowerPhotos, so that your logs folder doesn’t accumulate new log files forever.
If you used iPhoto or Aperture before transitioning to Apple’s newer Photos app, Photos has the ability to migrate your old iPhoto/Aperture library to a Photos library. However, if you have multiple libraries, Photos’ interface for migrating these libraries can be time consuming and repetitive. PowerPhotos provides a migration assistant that helps automate migrating your libraries to Photos. Note that the migration itself will still be performed by Photos, but PowerPhotos will let you set up multiple libraries to migrate in succession without having to babysit the process. To get started migrating your libraries, choose “Migrate iPhoto Libraries” from the File menu in PowerPhotos.
The first time you bring up the migration assistant, PowerPhotos will automatically search your Mac for iPhoto and Aperture libraries that can be migrated to Photos. If there are any libraries you want to migrate that don’t appear in the list, either drag them from the Finder and drop them on the list, or click the “Add iPhoto Library” button to perform another search. For each library in the list, you can see:
To start migrating your libraries, check the checkbox next to each library you would like to migrate, then click the “Migrate” button in the upper right. PowerPhotos will proceed to migrate each library in succession, opening it up in Photos, allowing the migration to complete, then proceeding to the next library. Migration can take a fair amount of time, but PowerPhotos will take care of the details, so you shouldn’t need to monitor the process. When unregistered, there is a limit of migrating two libraries at a time. Registering PowerPhotos will allow you to migrate any number of libraries at once.
Migrating a library creates a brand new library on disk and does not modify the original iPhoto library at all. If you wish to migrate a particular library a second time, PowerPhotos will let you do so, though it will display a warning first. This will not overwrite the previously migrated Photos library, but simply create a second Photos library alongside the first one.
For libraries that come from iPhoto 7 or earlier, they will need to pass through an additional step using Apple’s “iPhoto Library Upgrader” tool to first upgrade the library to a newer version before it can be sent to Photos for migration. PowerPhotos will walk you through the steps for this process if necessary. All libraries that need upgrading will be upgraded first, so that once that’s done, the rest of the migration can be done without needing any additional intervention.
If you have a Photos library that has either become corrupt or had photos accidentally deleted from it, and you have been using Time Machine to back up your library, you can restore a copy of your older library to access those photos again. You can restore your library by following the instructions on Apple’s Restore items backed up by Time Machine support page. Once the library has been restored, add the library to PowerPhotos’ library list. The library will need to be opened once in Photos to allow it to complete the restoration process before PowerPhotos will be able to display the library’s content in its own window.
You can store an Photos library on an external or removable hard drive just the same as you can on your computer’s built-in hard drive. To create a new library, follow the normal procedure for creating a new library, and choose the external drive as the location for the library. If you have an existing library that you would like to store on your external drive, use the “Duplicate Library” command in the File menu. You will be given a choice of where to duplicate the library to, at which point you can choose the external hard drive that you’d like to copy the library to. Once you’ve created or copied your library on the external drive, you can then open it up just like any other Photos library.
Apple recommends that you store your Photos library on a Mac formatted drive (either MacOS Extended or APFS), and notes specifically that issues can occur when storing the library on a FAT32 drive (used by DOS/Windows). In practice, this advice also applies to ExFAT and NTFS formatted drives. PowerPhotos will warn you when adding a library that’s already on a drive of one of these formats, and will refuse to create a new library on such a drive. If you already have a library on a non-Mac formatted drive, it’s recommended that you either copy it over to another drive that is already Mac formatted, or copy it off of the current drive, erase and reformat the drive to be Mac formatted, then copy the library back on.
If you have a library that has gotten too large and you want to split it into multiple, smaller libraries, there are a couple different ways you can go about doing so.
First, click the “+” button and select “Create New Library” to choose the location you want to create the second library.
Then, drag one or more albums or moments of photos from the album list of your big library onto your newly created library. This will copy those albums over to the new library, including all their dates, keywords, descriptions, etc. After you have copied the photos to your new library, you can use Photos to delete them from the big library, to clear up the disk space in that library. You can repeat this process with small or large batches of albums and any number of libraries to split up your collection into smaller, more manageable pieces.
One common way of splitting up a library is to split things up by date, e.g. so you have one library per year. The easiest way to do that is to create a smart album in your Photos library that uses the “Date” field to show just photos from a certain range of dates. For example, if you wanted to make a library with just photos from 2013, you’d set up a smart album with a date range from Jan 1, 2013 to Dec 31, 2013. Then in PowerPhotos, you can just create a new library then drag that smart album over to the new library to copy all those photos across. Then just repeat for each library you want to create with a different date range.
Duplicate & Prune
Use the “Duplicate Library” command in the File menu to make a copy of the library folder that you want to split. You can then open one copy of the library and move whatever photos and albums you don’t want in that library to its trash. Then open the second library and move the rest of the photos into that library’s trash. After double checking to make sure that no photos have been trashed from both libraries, empty the trash of each library. This method is useful if you want to avoid some of the copying limitations that are imposed on PowerPhotos by what Photos itself is capable of.
In order for photos to show up in the Photos window, they must first be imported into the Photos library. If you already have a folder full of photos you want to use with Photos, just pointing Photos to the folder full of pictures won’t make it automatically recognize and be able to work with them. To make a library with the folder full of pictures, you should first make a new library in PowerPhotos, open that library, then drag the folder of photos from the Finder into Photos.
In some cases, you might end up deleting a number of photos to the trash in Photos (e.g. when using the Find Duplicates command), but then decide you don’t want to delete the photos after all. Fortunately, deleting photos is not immediately permanent, and there is a way to return recently deleted photos to the main section of the library. To do so:
Photos is not designed with multi-user use in mind, which makes it very difficult to create a setup where a single Photos library can be accessed from multiple accounts on your Mac. If you wish to share a library this way, the following restrictions will apply (for the below discussion, assume we have two users named A and B that we want to share a library):
If you have libraries from more than one Mac that you’d like to merge together, you will need to first choose which Mac you want to run PowerPhotos on. You’ll need to set up that Mac so that it can access all the libraries you want to merge together. You can do that one of the following ways:
After making each library accessible from the Mac you’re running PowerPhotos on, you can then choose File > Add Existing Library to add each library to the PowerPhotos library list. Note that since network and external drives are often not indexed by Spotlight, your library might not show up automatically in the list that PowerPhotos presents when you bring up the Add Existing Library window. If you don’t see your library there, click the “Choose Manually” button to choose that library’s location manually.
Once all the libraries are present in the PowerPhotos library list, you can (set up a new merge)[merge_libraries.md] and proceed from there.
If you have a mix of one or more iPhoto libraries and Photos libraries that you would like to merge together, there is no way to directly merge an iPhoto library into a Photos library, or vice versa. What you can do instead is to first migrate the iPhoto libraries that you want to merge over to Photos libraries. You can then use PowerPhotos to merge the resulting Photos libraries together with your existing Photos libraries.
When not to merge an iPhoto library with your Photos library
There is one common situation in which many users believe they need to perform a merge of an iPhoto library and a Photos library, but is usually not necessary. If you have an iPhoto library that you already migrated over to Photos, the iPhoto library will remain on the hard drive after performing the migration. This will result in an iPhoto library and a Photos library appearing side by side in your Pictures folder.
It can be easy to forget that this happened, come across the iPhoto library later on, think that it has different content from the Photos library, and thus needs to be merged. However, since the Photos library starts out with everything that was already in iPhoto before the migration, performing a merge will usually just be a waste of time, since no new content will come in from the iPhoto library that wasn’t already in the Photos library.
The only exception to this is if you migrated to Photos, but then continued using iPhoto for some time after performing the initial migration. Only in this case, where you have added new content to the iPhoto library after the migration, should a merge be necessary.
PowerPhotos tries its best to show the most up to date and complete information from your libraries, but there are a few factors that can cause differences in what you see in PowerPhotos versus the Photos app itself. You can check the following if you are seeing such differences.
iCloud Photos If you have iCloud Photos enabled on your Mac, then PowerPhotos will only be able to see whatever photos have been fully downloaded locally to your Mac, and will not show any photos that are currently only present in the cloud. If you have the “Optimize Mac Storage” option enabled, this can mean that you will only see a fairly small portion of your library in PowerPhotos.
Opening the library in Photos and switching to the “Download Original to this Mac” option in the preferences window will tell Photos to download all the full size photos to your Mac, and this will let PowerPhotos access and display them. If you have only just changed this preference, it can take some time for Photos to download everything from the cloud, so it may take a while before everything will show up in PowerPhotos.
Hidden photos If you have marked any photos in your library as hidden, then those photos will not be displayed in the Photos interface, except if you look specifically in the special “Hidden” album. PowerPhotos, on the other hand, will always show hidden photos, so you may actually see more items in PowerPhotos that you see in Photos in this case.
Reloading lag After you make any changes to a library in Photos, the next time you view the library in PowerPhotos, it will need to reload the latest changes from the library on disk. This process can take a little while, especially for larger libraries, and you will see a spinning progress indicator at the top of the window while PowerPhotos is working on reloading the library. You may need to wait for that spinner to disappear before seeing the most recent changes to your library show up in PowerPhotos.
When using the Merge Libraries command in PowerPhotos, it can sometimes be the case that the resulting library created by PowerPhotos is significantly smaller on disk that the original library/libraries were. There are several reasons why the new library can be smaller than the original:
In order to perform many operations such as merging libraries, copying photos, and eliminating duplicates, PowerPhotos needs to control the Photos app using AppleScript. On macOS 10.14 Mojave and later, the first time PowerPhotos attempts to control Photos this way, you will be prompted to allow or deny PowerPhotos permission to automate the Photos app with a window that looks something like this:
This prompt will only be displayed once, so if you clicked “Don’t Allow”, then when you attempt to do anything in PowerPhotos that requires controlling Photos, you’ll receive an error message saying “Automating Photos not permitted”. If you see such a message, you’ll need to go into System Preferences and manually give PowerPhotos permission to automate the Photos app. To do that:
If you run a merge or a large photo copying session, and the merge ends prematurely due to either a Photos crash, a PowerPhotos crash, or an error message that halts the merge, in most cases you can simply set up a new merge and get the rest of the photos from your libraries copied that didn’t make it the first time around. To do that:
If you have repeated problems trying to complete a merge or are unsure about the completion status of your merge, contact us using the Help > Contact Support menu item within PowerPhotos. To assist troubleshooting, make sure that all the boxes for including your PowerPhotos logs with your support request are checked.
If you ran the Find Duplicates command and removed all the duplicate photos that PowerPhotos was able to find, but are still seeing other photos in your library that appear to be duplicates, there are a couple things you can try.
The first option is to try different duplicate comparison options to see if a different setup can catch some duplicates that your first search did not. Most of the options are enabled by default, but two specific ones you might try enabling are:
There can also be some cases where there are two photos that look the same visually to the human eye, but can be very difficult for a computer to automatically recognize as being duplicates, e.g. if one copy has been resized or altered in some way. The filename + date search can help find these sometimes, but if either one of those things has also been changed, then there’s no easy way left for PowerPhotos to tell that the two photos “look” the same.
If none of the comparison options are finding these photos, then feel free to contact our technical support and send an example of a pair of photos that look to be duplicates but aren’t being found by PowerPhotos.
The best way to send the actual photo file is to select the photo in PowerPhotos, control-click on it, and select “Show Original File” (or if that item is disabled, select “Show File”). That will select the file in a Finder window, so you can then send it as an attachment. Just do that for each photo you want to send, and we can take a look at them and try to troubleshoot the problem.
Starting in macOS 10.14 Mojave, if an app such as PowerPhotos wants to work with your photo libraries, the first time it attempts to do so you will be prompted to allow or deny PowerPhotos permission with a window that looks like this:
This prompt will only be displayed once, so if you clicked “Don’t Allow”, then when you attempt to view any of your libraries in PowerPhotos, you’ll receive an error message saying “Photos access not authorized”. If you see such a message, you’ll need to go into System Preferences and manually give PowerPhotos permission to access your photo libraries. To do that:
To access PowerPhotos’ preferences, click on the “PowerPhotos” menu and select “Preferences”. There you will find the following settings:
If you are experiencing a problem using PowerPhotos, you can contact tech support in two ways.
Open up PowerPhotos and select “Contact Support” from the Help menu. This will bring up a window where you can explain your problem and send it directly to Fat Cat Software support. This is the preferred method, as it will automatically transmit basic information about your setup that will help in making sure your problem can be diagnosed quickly and correctly. The following information will automatically be included with your request:
Checking the “Include PowerPhotos logs” checkbox will send the log files created by PowerPhotos while performing various operations. These logs are stored in ~/Library/Logs/PowerPhotos.
Additionally, if you are experiencing a problem that involves Photos crashing or PowerPhotos crashing, you can include the appropriate crash log(s) with your submission. All information that is submitted is transferred over an encrypted SSL connection.
Alternately, you can also e-mail for support at firstname.lastname@example.org
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