How to repair iPhoto error “your photo library is locked”

6 minutes read

Are you facing problems with your iPhoto library? No need to worry if you can’t open your iPhoto library or if you see error messages like “Photos library could not be opened” or if iPhoto isn’t working. One common issue you may encounter is the frustrating “Your photo library is locked” error. In our upcoming article, we’ll delve into the causes of this error and share simple solutions to unlock your photo library

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iPhoto returns error “this photo library is locked”

An error pops up when you are trying to access images from multiple devices using an iPhone. An error stating “This photo library is locked or you do not have permission to make changes to it”.  Although the iPhotos app has seen quite a few updates, this old problem/error still haunts us to date.

Starting your Mac in Recovery mode and running your disk repair utility, to resolve the error might not always work, here are some more things you can try.

What are the reasons behind the error “this photo library is locked”?

  • When you are trying to access iPhoto from multiple devices:  So, if you are accessing a library that is already open on multiple devices, you might receive an error.  Close the iPhoto on the other devices, when you are trying to access iPhotos from your current device.
  • Conflict of ownership on removable drives: If your iPhoto Library is stored on an external drive that is used by many Mac users, there might be a permission dispute on that drive that disables other users or devices from accessing it. Specify read and write permissions to access external drives on Mac to correct this factor.
  • iPhoto library is running out of free space: If the drive on which the iPhoto library is saved is running out of free space, then this could be the reason why your iPhoto library might have gotten locked.

These are the above reasons why one would encounter the message “this photo library is locked” Let us know below how to fix it.

How to fix the error “you do not have permission to make changes” on iPhoto

Start troubleshooting to solve the error, using the below steps

  1. Click on iPhoto to launch the app and press the command + option keys. (quit the photos app before you do so)
  2. The app will request you start the repair process
  3. Enter your credentials as administrator to initiate the repair
  4. The process takes some time, depending on the photos you have saved on the system.
    Troubleshooting might have solved the issue to some extent, but if the repair process has stopped in the middle then the images are not accessible even after repairing the photo library, it can be hard to determine the reason. In such cases, it is recommended to repair the iPhoto library and then rebuild the photo library database.

Quick Note: You can also use the 'Rebuild iPhoto library database' feature as shown below to rebuild the library if the above method fails to fix the repair library issue:

  • Click the Command + Option button and open the iPhoto option
  • Press the keys before the Picture Library Rebuild dialog box appears
  • For the database repair tool, click Repair iPhoto Library Database > click Repair.

The iPhoto launches successfully once the rebuild is complete, and you can see all your images once again. If the above steps have not solved your problem, Try the Mac console app.

Solution 1: Fix iPhoto using the Mac Console app:

  1. When you open a console session, go ahead and try to open the iPhoto app again
  2. Check the console messages for any iPhoto app-related errors or issues. Look to see if there are additional hints you can find that can help you find the problem source.
  3. By holding the Shift Key while restarting or booting up, try booting in Safe Mode.
  4. Make sure that the main library of images helps you to read and write. Go to the photo library and click or right-click on the photo library and select Get Info to open the Info Window. Scroll down to Sharing & Permissions and verify under your username that it is classified as Read & Write. If not, modify the Read & Write permissions to those.

Solution 2: Check for Free Space

Your iPhoto Library can get locked if they are running out of space. consider deleting unwanted photos and videos to free up some space (minimum 500MB).

  • Open the Finder window and click on the target disk in the left pane.
  • Click on File from the top and select Get Info from the options, You can see the available space on your hard drive, and you can transfer some of the data to another device or delete them and reboot your system.

Unless you're sure you have a permission-related problem, Repair Disk Permissions works as a troubleshooting method. before you initiate the repair process, just in case anything happens during the process, make sure you have a backup of your images.

Use Remo Photo Recovery tool to recover lost files from the iPhoto library. Try the tool for free and then activate it to save the recovered files to the desired location. Download now.

For Mac users, occasional hiccups with the iPhoto Library app are not uncommon. Missing or corrupt files, errors, failed imports, the crash of the Photos app, device hanging problems while opening the iPhotos app, etc., are common issues. Such issues mean that the Images app is corrupt and it is recommended to be repaired.


Dealing with issues in the iPhoto app can be highly frustrating for Mac users. If you're currently facing these challenges, our article offers simple methods to fix the problems and restore access to your valuable pictures. Don't let technical difficulties dampen your photo experience.

If you feel this above article has helped you in resolving the error “this photo library is locked”. If you find this information helpful please share it with your friends and colleague, comment below if you have any queries.

About the Author: John Harris

With a decade of experience in data recovery, John Harris, Senior Editor at Remo Software, is your go-to specialist. His focus includes partition management, Windows solutions, and data troubleshooting, delivering insightful content that serves both users and search engines. John's expertise shines through in illuminating blog posts, untangling data loss intricacies across diverse storage platforms.…