Merge iPhoto Libraries – Apple Suggested Methods Made Simple

Having numerous libraries on an iPhoto application is quite normal. Creating libraries might organize your photos but, having more than suggested libraries can be confusing. Additionally, it can also be annoying to manually select an iPhoto library every time you open a Photos app on your Mac. This is why many users are searching for ways to merge the iPhoto libraries.

Another scenario where a user wants to export the photos from the old Aperture library to the latest Photos application. Regardless of the requirement or the scenario, the process of merging the iPhoto library is going to stay the same. Please refer to the content below to know the Apple suggested methods to merge iPhoto libraries.

Disclaimer: While merging the iPhoto libraries there is a possibility of losing photos. So, be very cautious while merging.

Note - In case if your iPhoto library is crashing while following the procedure mentioned below, learn how to repair iPhoto crashing

How to Merge iPhoto Libraries?

There are a couple of methods to combine the iPhoto libraries.

How to Merge iPhoto Libraries Using Export and Import Method?

If you have referred to Apple’s support page for the Exporting and Importing the photos, it is a little intimidating and confusing. So, here is a detailed explanation of every single step to merge two different iPhoto libraries.

Before starting the iPhoto merging process, be a little cautious, because there are numerous steps, you might get confused and accidentally delete one or two photos. If you have deleted you can recover the deleted photos on Mac.

Choose iPhoto Library

The first step of combining the iPhoto library is to select the library you want to merge. To keep things simple, let’s consider the libraries you want to merge to be Old Library and New Library. We want to merge Old Library to New Library.

Firstly you have to select the Old Library. To open the Old Library, hold the options key while opening the Photos application. Which will open the Choose Library dialogue box. Now select the Old Library (the library you want to merge with) and click on choose library option.

Once the library is selected, open the Photos application. The next stage is to export photos, which are mentioned below.

Export the Photos from Old Library

The next step in merging iPhoto libraries is to export the photos from the Old library to a separate folder. To do so, open the photos application with Old library selected.

Note: You cannot directly export photos from the old library to the new library. First, you have to export photos from the old library to a separate folder. Later import the photos from the folder to the new library.

Select the desired photos from Old Library to merge with New Library and go to the File menu, a select Export option where you will see two more options

  • Export Photo: If you have edited the photos or made any changes to the photos you can select this option
  • Export Unmodified Original for Photos: Selecting this option will discard any changes you have made such as special title or edits you have done to a photo. Also selecting this option will give you a special dialogue box with numerous options that let you change the format of the exported photos. All these options are self-explanatory.

Click on Export. Since Apple did not provide feasibility to directly export photos from one library to another, first you have to export the photos to a folder. Later you can import photos from that folder to a New Library.

So, after clicking on the export option create a folder on the desired location with the recognizable folder name, and for one last time click on the Export option.

Note: It is suggested to create a folder on the desktop so that it is easy to find. If you lost any photos while exporting photos, you can use Remo Photo recovery software.

Data loss is an unpredictable scenario, if you are one such user who has lost or deleted your iPhoto library while implementing the merging process or accidentally and is wondering how to recover them, you can always make use of an effective mac data recovery utility like Remo Recover Mac. Download now

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Importing the Photos to New Library

The final step is to import the photos to New library. To do that you have to select the New Library. Similarly, hold the options button while opening the Photos application and choose the New Library.

Once the New Library is selected, go to File in the menu bar and select the Import option. Which will open the import dialogue box, from the import dialogue box go to Desktop or the location where you have created a folder with exported photos. Select the folder with exported photos and click on Import to successfully merge Old iPhoto Library with New Library.

Note: Suppose you want to share photos from your iPhone to the non-apple devices, then read this article to learn to Share iCloud photos with non-apple devices easily.

Merge iPhoto Library using Open Package Content Method

Before going through this method, there is a small concept you have to clear. iPhoto library is a package of various different folders. A typical iPhoto library package consists of the following folders

  • DataBase
  • External
  • Originals
  • Private
  • Resource

This is how Apple organizes photos in the iPhoto library. To merge different iPhoto Libraries, you don’t need detailed information about those folders so we shall just skip that part. Now moving on to merging two iPhoto libraries here is how to combine  iPhoto libraries

  • Open Finder and from left sidebar select Pictures tab
  • Generally, the pictures tab will contain all the libraries available on your Mac
  • As discussed earlier, consider the same New and Old iPhoto Library concept
  • Right-click on the old Library and from the displayed options select “Open Package Content”
  • This will reveal above aforementioned folders.
  • Now go back to the pictures tab and Open the New iPhoto Library. Just double click on the New Library to open it
  • All you have to do to merge the Old and New Library is to just drag and drop the Originals folder from the Old Photos library into the currently opened New Library.
  • This will import the photos from Old library to New iPhoto Library.

Combine iPhoto library with iCloud

  1. Go to System Preferences > Apple ID > iCloud
  2. Find the Photos libraries you want to merge and double-click to open it.
  3. In Photos > Preferences > General, click Use as System Photo Library. 
  4. Scroll to the bottom of the Photos to see the progress of your library uploading.
  5. Once they are upload cloud will sync the libraries together

How to Merge iPhoto libraries without any Duplicates?

To achieve merging iPhoto libraries without any duplicates is to manually upload the respective libraries into iCloud. While implementing this procedure iCloud will recognize the duplicates and notify you. By this you effortlessly will not encounter any duplicate photos on your iPhoto library 

Note - To implement the above-listed procedure you will need enough space on your cloud storage. 

Can I merge two photo libraries on Mac using iCloud?

Yes, you can merge two Photo Libraries using iCloud yet, it is not suggested. Because firstly it is not merging, it is just uploading photos from two different iPhoto libraries onto the iCloud. Secondly, considering the cost of iCloud space, it is not practical to subscribe to iCloud just to merge iPhoto libraries.

Obviously, it has its own perks. For example, there is no fear of data loss, even though you might delete a photo you can recover that deleted photo from iCloud.

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John Harris

Senior Editor, Content Analyst and a fan of exceptional customer service. John develops and publishes instructional and informational content regarding partition management, Windows hot-fixes, data management and computer troubleshooting.

As a tenured data recovery specialist, John shares exceptional insights and blog posts about data loss and data recovery across any storage device. With 8+ years’ experience in writing for Data Recovery for both Mac OS and Windows OS computers, he is an avid learner who always wants to polish and simplify the data recovery process. John passes his free time playing Chess and reading Science Fiction novels.

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