Table of Contents

  1. Introduction
    1. Installation
    2. System requirements
    3. Registering PowerPhotos
    4. About Photos libraries
    5. Moving from iPhoto Library Manager to PowerPhotos
  2. Managing Photos libraries
    1. Creating a new library
    2. Adding an existing library
    3. Removing a library
    4. Duplicating a library
    5. Moving a library
    6. Renaming a library
    7. Accessing a Photos library on another Mac
  3. Using your Photos libraries
    1. Opening a library
    2. About the System Photo Library
    3. Using iCloud Photo Library with multiple libraries
    4. Using a digital camera with multiple libraries
    5. Storing libraries on cloud services such as Dropbox or iCloud Drive
  4. Browsing your Photos libraries
    1. Grid view
    2. List view
    3. Viewing full sized photos
    4. The information pane
    5. Searching for photos
    6. Multi-library search
    7. Browsing tips and tricks
  5. Finding duplicate photos
    1. Find Duplicates overview
    2. Starting the duplicate finding process
    3. Browsing your duplicates
    4. Choosing keepers with duplicate rules
    5. Criteria details
    6. Performing actions on duplicate photos
    7. Changing duplicate actions manually
    8. Deleting your duplicate photos
      1. Deleting duplicates from the "PowerPhotos nonkeepers" album
      2. Deleting duplicates marked with a keyword
    9. Duplicate tips and tricks
  6. Copying between Photos libraries
    1. Copying albums and moments
    2. Copying individual photos
    3. Importing new photos into a library
    4. Merging libraries
    5. Previewing your copying
    6. Handling duplicates when copying
    7. Copying limitations
    8. Copying and merging with iCloud Photo Library
    9. Moving photos instead of copying
    10. Log files
  7. Migrating iPhoto and Aperture libraries
  8. Frequently asked questions
    1. Restoring photos from Time Machine
    2. Storing a library on an external drive
    3. Splitting a library into smaller libraries
    4. Creating a new library using photos not already in Photos
    5. Undoing photo deletions
    6. PowerPhotos not displaying recent changes to a library
    7. Sharing a library between multiple user accounts on one Mac
    8. Reduced library size after merging
    9. System library fails to load
  9. Preferences
  10. Support
  11. Release notes


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 Photo Library, 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 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.

System requirements

PowerPhotos requires Mac OS X 10.11 or later and runs on any Intel based Macintosh with a Core 2 Duo processor or better.

Registering PowerPhotos

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 The differences between a licensed and an unlicensed copy of the program is outlined below



Create new libraries



Use existing libraries



Search libraries



Library shortcuts



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


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 lost license page.

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.

About Photos libraries

Photos stores all of the photos and information about your photo collection in an 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.

Moving from iPhoto Library Manager to PowerPhotos

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 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. PowerPhotos also does not have a “Rebuild Library” command like iPhoto Library Manager did. 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


Manage multiple libraries



Browse and view metadata



View and reveal full size photos



Search across multiple libraries



Merge libraries



Copy photos between libraries



Rebuild corrupt libraries



Find duplicate photos



Migrate iPhoto libraries



Creating a new library

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.

Adding an existing library

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 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.

Removing a library

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.

Duplicating a library

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.

Note: if you have unchecked the "Copy items to the Photos library" checkbox in the Advanced section of Photos' preferences, and have since imported photos into your library that refer to photos outside the Photos library, any such photos will not be copied anywhere. The duplicate copy of the library will simply refer to the same photos in the same 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.

Moving a library

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.

Renaming a library

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 package 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. If you want to also change the name of the library on disk, just use the "Reveal Library in Finder" item in the File menu and edit the library's name using the Finder.

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.

Accessing a Photos library on another Mac

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 (or if you have an existing library, choose the computer that already holds that library), then open System Preferences on that computer and enable Personal File Sharing in the Sharing pane. Details on enabling file sharing on OS X can be found on Apple's support site at these links:

Mac 101: File Sharing

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 music 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 an 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 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 OS X 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 precludes a setup where a library is both synced with iCloud and accessible locally from multiple Macs.

Opening a library

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 simply 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.

About the System Photo Library

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 OS X 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 your iCloud photo library.

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. 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.

Because PowerPhotos needs to use a different method to read the content of the system photo library, you may see some minor differences in behavior when viewing the system photo library versus your other photo libraries:

Using iCloud Photo Library with multiple libraries

Apple offers a service called iCloud Photo Library 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 photo library 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 photo library, also in Photos' preferences. When viewing your libraries in PowerPhotos, it will mark your iCloud library with a label just beneath that 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.

Photos also provides an option to "optimize storage" of your iCloud library, so that if your disk starts to run low on free space, it will not store the full size original versions of photos on your Mac, leaving them only on iCloud, and downloading them on demand as needed, 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 photo library, Photos offers two other way to transfer photos between devices: Photo Stream and iCloud Photo Sharing. These two features can be enabled or disabled independently of iCloud photo library, but like iCloud photo library, they can only be enabled for your system photo library.

Using a digital camera with multiple libraries

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.

Storing libraries on cloud services such as Dropbox or iCloud Drive

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.

iCloud Drive

Apple's own iCloud Drive feature (not to be confused with the iCloud Photo Library 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, it will allow you to create a library in iCloud Drive, but you will see a smallineligible.png 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 Photo Library is the best solution available.

Grid view

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:

List view

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:

Viewing full sized photos

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.

The information pane

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:

For 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.

For albums: the album's name and description, and the number and size of the photos it contains.

For moments: the moment’s name, date, and description, and the number and size of the photos it contains.

For 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 modified versions of the image.

Searching for photos

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.

Multi-library search

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:

Browsing tips and tricks

Here are a few tips and tricks to help efficiently find the photos you’re looking for in your libraries.

Find Duplicates overview

Using the Find Duplicates feature in PowerPhotos consists of three main steps.

1. 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.

2. 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”.

3. Performing actions

Typically, the keeper will be the instance of the photo you want to keep around, and you will perform actions on the rest of the photos in the group. This allows you to mark the duplicate photos with a keyword or collect them into an album, to make them easier to delete from your library. You can read about this step in “Performing actions on duplicate photos”.

Starting the duplicate finding process

To begin finding duplicate photos in your Photos libraries, either click the "Find Duplicates" 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 either already in the "PowerPhotos keepers” or “PowerPhotos nonkeepers” albums (e.g. if you performed a previous duplicate search already), are marked as hidden, or already have the keyword named "duplicate" assigned to them in Photos. Note that because OS X does not allow PowerPhotos to access hidden photos from the system photo library, hidden photos will never be analyzed when searching the system photo library, regardless of the setting here.

Screen Shot 2016-05-04 at 4.04.05 PM.png

How to compare photos

PowerPhotos has two methods that you can use to compare photos to each other and determine whether they are duplicates

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 you've set up your search, click the blue "Find Duplicates" button in the upper right corner of the window, and PowerPhotos will begin analyzing your libraries for duplicate photos.

Browsing your duplicates

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.

If your duplicate rules have successfully chosen keepers and applied actions to your duplicates, those actions will be represented by icons displayed above each photo in the duplicate browser. The following icons can appear there:

checkmark_black.png - indicates the photo has been chosen as the keeper for that duplicate group

album_black.png - indicates the photo will be added to the “PowerPhotos Duplicates" album in your library

keyword_black.png - indicates the photo will be assigned the "duplicate" keyword

The zoom slider in the lower right corner of the window can increase or decrease the size of the duplicates being displayed. Since some groups can contain more photos than will fit horizontally in the box for that group, some groups may have a small scrollbar appear along the bottom, allowing you to scroll left and right to see all the photos in that group. To view the full size version of a photo, either double click it, or select it and press the space bar.

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 what actions have been applied to which photos.

Choosing keepers with duplicate rules

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:

Editing rules

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 criteria 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 criteria says to prefer whichever photo has the newest modification date. Two of the photos have been edited and have the same modification date, but the photo in “MacBook Library” has an older modification date. So, this criteria narrows down the group from three photos to just the ones from Photos Library and iMac Library, and then evaluation continues to the next criteria.

The third criteria says to prefer a photo that came from the library "Photos Library" over photos from other libraries. One of the two remaining photos is from the "iMac Library", so that photo is marked by this criteria as the chosen photo.

Since we have now narrowed down the group to a single photo, the fourth criteria is not needed, and is skipped. The photo from “iMac Library” is selected as the keeper, and will appear with a checkmark over it in the duplicate browser.

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.

Criteria details

The following is a list of the criteria that can be used in duplicate rules to select photos from among a set of duplicates.

Performing actions on duplicate photos

Once your duplicate rule has decided which photos are keepers, you can specify one or more actions that you'd like to perform on the photos in the duplicate group. You can specify one type of action to be taken on the keeper photos, and another action to be taken on the nonkeeper photos.


The most common configuration will be to collect the nonkeepers to a new album, and take no action on the keepers, but you can customize this to take different actions on both kinds of photos. Selecting a new action from one of the pop-up menus at the bottom of the window will update the duplicate browser to show what action will be taken on each photo. You can also control-click on a photo to manually assign an action.

The available action types are:

Add to Album: this will add the photo to a newly created album in the Photos library. If you have this action selected for nonkeepers, PowerPhotos will create an album named “PowerPhotos nonkeepers” in the library and add the nonkeeper photos to that album. Similarly, it will create a “PowerPhotos keepers” albums and add the keepers to that album if you have the action selected for keepers as well.

Assign Keyword: adds a keyword named “duplicate” to the photo. This will allow you to see which photos are marked as duplicates by looking at their keywords, use the search field in Photos to find photos marked with the “duplicate” keyword, or set up a smart album that shows photos marked with that keyword.

No changes will actually be made to your library until you click the “Apply” button in PowerPhotos while browsing your duplicate photos. This allows you to experiment with different rules and actions and see the results before committing to actually making any changes to the library.

Changing duplicate actions manually

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 clicking on the small arrow that appears in the lower right hand corner of a particular photo when you move the mouse over it (or control-clicking anywhere on the photo). This will display a menu showing the list of actions that you can assign to the photo. Choosing one of the actions will assign that action to the photo, replacing any existing action that was assigned to it by a duplicate rule. If you don’t want any action taken on a particular photo, just choose the “Clear Action” menu item instead.

The “Mark as Keeper” menu item can be used to change which photo is marked as the keeper, denoted by a checkmark above the photo. When you change a group’s keeper photo, the default actions you’ve chosen for keepers and nonkeepers will automatically be assigned to the photos in the duplicate group based on your new keeper choice.

Each action can also be assigned to a photo via a keyboard shortcut, as listed below. If you use the arrow keys to navigate through the photos in the duplicate browser, you can use this in conjunction with the keyboard shorctuts to customize your duplicate actions without ever using the mouse.

Keyboard shortcuts:

Deleting your duplicate photos

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. After letting PowerPhotos apply its actions to your duplicate photos, open the library in Photos. Finding the duplicate photos differs depending on which action you told PowerPhotos to apply.

Add to Album

The default action is the "Add to Album" action, which collects all of the extra duplicates into an album named "PowerPhotos nonkeepers" in your Photos library. Click here for directions on deleting photos in the PowerPhotos nonkeepers album from your library.

Assign Keyword

If you instead selected the "Assign Keyword" action, then all your nonkeeper photos will have had a keyword named "duplicate" assigned to them instead. Click here for directions on deleting photos with the "duplicate" keyword from your library.

Deleting duplicates from the "PowerPhotos nonkeepers" album

If you have just used PowerPhotos to collect your duplicate photos into the "PowerPhotos nonkeepers" album, follow the steps below if you wish to delete those extra duplicate photos from your library.


Deleting duplicates marked with a keyword

If you have just used PowerPhotos to assign the "duplicate" keyword to your duplicate photos, follow the steps below if you wish to delete those extra duplicate photos from your library.

Duplicate tips and tricks

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:

Copying albums and moments

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.

Log files

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.

Copying individual 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 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.

Importing new photos into a library

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.

Merging libraries

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

1. 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”

2. 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, just click the "Change location" button to do so.

3. 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. Similar to when using the Find Duplicates command, you can specify a list of criteria for PowerPhotos 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. adding to an album, assigning a keyword, etc.) when merging. 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.

You are also given some options to customize how PowerPhotos 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 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, 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.

4. Options

Some other options are configurable when setting up your merge:

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 vs. Copy edited JPGs. Specifies whether to copy the current, edited version of each photo to the merged library, or the unedited original version. 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.

Previewing your copying

Whenever you use PowerPhotos to copying 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.

Missing photos

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.

Duplicate handling

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")

Album/moment organization

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.

Handling duplicates when copying

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.

Copying limitations

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 movies, keeping keywords, descriptions, titles, dates and favorites intact; albums, folders, and moments.

Partially supported: locations, smart albums, original vs. edited version of a photo, bursts, live photos.

Not supported: reversable photo edits, manually assigned locations, faces, and projects.

Photos and movies with basic metadata: Photos and movies 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.

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.

Due to technical limitations with Photos, 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. For album/photo copying, this is located in the preferences window, and for merging, this is located in the options section when setting up a merge.

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 movie 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, only the "selected" photo for that burst is made available by Photos and can be copied to another library. Additionally, if you have split a burst apart into individual photos and then copy them to another library, Photos will automatically regroup them into a burst in the destination library.

Live photos: when copying “live” photos that were taken on an iPhone 6s or later to another library, only the photo itself will be copied, without the short video clip that accompanies it.

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. Photos does not support assigning locations programatically, so only those photos that have locations in their metadata will have their locations preserved when copying between libraries using PowerPhotos.

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.

Copying and merging with iCloud Photo Library

There are a few additional things you should consider if you’re copying or merging photos into the library you have syncing with iCloud Photo Library. If iCloud Photo Library 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.

1. Temporarily turn off iCloud syncing. Open your library in Photos, go to the preferences window, and click the "Pause for one day" button. Your current collection of photos will remain in iCloud, but your Mac will stop actively syncing new content while this checkbox is off. You can then performing your copying/merging and double check the results to make sure they’re to your liking. If they are, then go back to Photos preferences and click "Resume", and Photos will upload your newly copied photos to iCloud. Note that it will take some time for it to compare the library content to iCloud again, but it shouldn’t need to re-upload any of the photos that were already in the library.

2. Work on a copy of the library instead. Instead of merging directly into the library you have synced with iCloud, create a copy of the library first, either using the Finder or the “Duplicate Library” command in PowerPhotos. This requires having some extra free space, but has the advantage that you can keep your iCloud library syncing while you do your copying/merging with the other copy of the library. If you change your mind or decide you want to redo the merge with different settings, simply delete that copy of your library, and the original library remains unchanged. If you’re happy with the results of the merge, then use the Photos preferences window to first make that library the system photo library, then enable iCloud Photo Library to have it sync up the new photos with iCloud.

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 Photo Library 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.

Moving photos instead of copying

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 sligtly 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:

  1. Open the library in Photos (not in PowerPhotos)
  2. Select View > Albums from the menu bar up top to see your albums
  3. Double click the album you just copied, to show all the photos contained in the album
  4. Press command-A to select all the photos in the album.
  5. Press command-delete to remove the photos from both the album and the library.
  6. Click the back button in the upper left to return to your album list.
  7. Control-click on the album and select “Delete album” to delete the now empty album.

Migrating iPhoto and Aperture libraries

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.

Restoring photos from Time Machine

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.

Storing a library on an external drive

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, 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.

Splitting a library into smaller libraries

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.

Copying Albums

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.

Creating a new library using photos not already in Photos

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.

Undoing photo deletions

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:

  1. Open the library in Photos and the View > Albums menu item.
  2. Among the library's albums, you should see one named "Recently Deleted". Double click that album to view your recently deleted photos. Note that if you have not deleted any photos in your library, the Recently Deleted album will not appear in the album list.
  3. Click any photos that you would like to return to the library to select them.
  4. Click the “Recover” button in the upper right corner of the window. This will “undelete” the photos so they once again appear in the library. The photos will also be returned to any albums they belonged to when they were deleted.

PowerPhotos not displaying recent changes to a library

If you are doing work in one of your Photos libraries and switch back to PowerPhotos while doing so, it’s possible you will not immediately see your recent changes reflecting in the PowerPhotos window. The reasons for this are different depending on whether you are dealing with the system photo library or not.

The system photo library

PowerPhotos depends on OS X to provide the latest contents of the system photo library so it can display them in its photo browser. This service does not always reliably update with the latest changes in a timely fashion though, so it may take a minute or more for new changes to be shown in PowerPhotos. You can try forcing a refresh of the library by control-clicking on it in the library list and selecting “Refresh” from the contextual menu that comes up. If all else fails, try quitting PowerPhotos and relaunching it to see the latest changes.

Other libraries

For other libraries, PowerPhotos will be unable to refresh the library contents while that library is still open in Photos itself. To make sure you’re seeing the latest library contents, quit the Photos app. PowerPhotos should see that Photos has quit and automatically start reloading the library, which will be indicating by a spinning progress indicator at the top of the PowerPhotos window.

Sharing a library between multiple user accounts on one Mac

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):

  1. Only one user account can ever have a given library open in Photos at a time. Before you can use the shared library as user A, you must first make sure to quit Photos as user B.
  2. None of the user accounts that are accessing the library can designate it as their "system library". The system library is effectively open at all times by OS X in the background as long as that user is logged in, so even quitting Photos will not free up the library so that another user can open it. You must either designate a different library as the system library, or fully log out user B before trying to access the library as user A. Note that this also precludes having this library sync with iCloud.
  3. The library cannot be stored on your internal drive, or any other drive where permissions are respected. Fighting against permissions on OS X is a losing battle; while you can play whack-a-mole trying to fix permissions on the library before you open it, something will eventually go awry and it's likely you'll be unable to access some portion of your library. You should store the library on an external drive, and in the Get Info window in the Finder, make sure that the "Ignore ownership on this volume" checkbox is checked.

Reduced library size after merging

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:

System library fails to load

PowerPhotos relies on a service provided by OS X to report the contents of the Photos system library, and it can happen from time to time that the service will report out of date content to PowerPhotos, or fail to provide any information at all. If you receive an error message saying that PowerPhotos couldn’t load the system library, here are a couple things you can try to get things to show up properly.

  1. Open the library in Photos, then find and open the "All Photos" album. Forcing Photos to load that album sometimes helps trigger a refresh in the background service to get everything loaded. After doing that, quit PowerPhotos and relaunch it. The system library should show a "loading" message for a while, then show the contents of the library. If the message doesn't appear for some reason, press command-option-r to force a refresh of the library.
  2. Try logging out of your Mac and logging back in (or just restart the machine).
  3. Temporarily set another library to be the system photo library, then switch back again. If you only have a single photo library, you can select File > New Library to create a new, empty library, and set that to be the system library, then open up your original library and set that to be the system library again. Note that if you have iCloud Photo Library enabled, you’ll also need to reenable iCloud Photo Library after switching back. Photos will spend some time syncing up your library with iCloud again, but it shouldn’t need to actually upload or download any new photos (though the progress messages it shows can make it look like it is).

If you’ve tried all of the steps above and continue having problems getting your system library to appear, select “Contact Support” from the Help menu to get in touch with us so we can help get your library displaying again.


To access PowerPhotos’ preferences, click on the "PowerPhotos" menu and select "Preferences". There you will find the following settings:


Photo Copying


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:

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