Manage the Size of Your iPhoto Library

October 10, 2011, By Christian Cawley

Mac users who rely on their iPhoto library to manage and make edits to their photos will probably find that after prolonged use their computers slow down. The reason for this is simple – iPhoto builds a massive library of images, available in the Pictures folder, and over time this can become difficult to manage.

Obviously you don’t want your Mac to run sluggishly, and you don’t want to delete images from your library, so how do we manage this?

Fortunately there are several solutions, both by using third party solutions and by employing some of the settings already present in iPhoto.

One useful tool that you might employ is iPhoto Buddy, which you can download from This software is free, and enables you to split a bulky, unwieldy iPhoto library into a more manageable collection of smaller libraries. As iPhoto supports multiple libraries, this is the preferred option for many users as it doesn’t require too much messing about.


Using iPhoto to Manage the Size of Your Image Library

If you don’t have the inclination to download a third party library, or wish to avoid encountering large library issues in the first place, there are several ways in which you can use the iPhoto app itself to keep the size of the library manageable.

For instance, before you begin importing photos, open iPhoto > Preferences > Advanced, and untick Copy items to the iPhoto library. This will prevent photos from being duplicated unless you edit them (you will probably want them to be duplicated when editing in case you make a mistake).

Of course, you might already have a massive library of photos created and collected over several months or even years. How do you slim your big library down?

Use iPhoto Buddy for Slimline Picture Libraries

Once again, we can turn to iPhoto Buddy to help us out with this problem. After all, it is a multi-functional iPhoto utility!

If you have a large library, you will need plenty of space to use this method, but it delivers great results. Begin by right-clicking the iPhoto Library file and selecting Duplicate. This will create an exact copy of your library, so what you will need to do next is rename the file – choose a name that will reflect the images that you are going to include. For instance, for photos from Christmas 2010, name the file as such.

With the file renamed, use iPhoto Buddy to open the library and then delete every photo that isn’t from Christmas 2010. As we’re using a duplicate of your main library you don’t have to worry about losing data, although once you’re done you will need to delete your iPhoto Trash folder.

This creates a new, smaller, focused library and the process can be repeated for all of your images, enabling you to really slim down your iPhoto library!

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