How to clean up your iphoto library.

iPhoto. It’s the only mac program that I actively dislike. It’s so close to being great, yet has some absolutely killer flaws. I’m using version 4.

Over the years, my iphoto library has become a mess – filled with duplicate images, including (horror of horrors) multiple thumbnails for every image in the library. In other words, each picture was there at least twice – once at high resolution, and once at very low resolution.

This probably came about from moving to new computers. Each time I did, I’d simply import my previous library to the new machine. iPhoto doesn’t have the smarts to recognize what’s going on, and so imports the thumbnails it created in the previous library _and then proceeds to create new thumbnails of the thumbnails_. Dumb.

I used a couple of tools to weed out the garbage. First thing I did was backup my iphoto library. Next, I used “Tidy Up!”: on the original library folder to remove duplicate files. I paid the $30 for the software. It’s pretty impressive, and will no doubt get regular use.

Next up, apple’s own Automator came to the rescue. I created a simple workflow that moved any image under 20kb out of the library and into a new folder.

I also used Automator to move all the Thumbs folders to the trash – I didn’t want to import them again.

Automator is a very cool tool – one I’ve just started to play with. It could probably even find duplicate files, but figuring out how to do so was beyond my patience at the time.

Next I had to trick iPhoto into creating a new library. This is as simple as changing the name of the current library. Upon loading, iPhoto goes “dude, where’s my library?” and prompts you to find it or create a new one. I created a new one.

Then it was a simple matter of importing the nicely cleaned up files. I went from 8000+ images to 3000. All without losing a single picture.

3 thoughts on “How to clean up your iphoto library.”

  1. Well it’s great you can clean up your iphoto library. I think iphoto is the baddest software on my mac..

    But, will you know how do I work it on with my G4 under 10.3.9. and I can’t update beacuase of Final Cut Pro and Blackmagick

    My iphoto version is 2.0.1

  2. Hi,
    I just tried the program for the first time and got to know it pretty good with the manual. Its great that you can manage fotos and modify them when desired. However the library structure is a mess to my opinion. Great that it saves the originals and then makes copies in low quality that you can alter, so in case of making a mistake you can always restore to the original. However the overview of which photo is which and when you delete one if it then stays or is deleted as well is hard to differentiate. Also i’m not sure now if i should keep another folder with originals of my photos in another place because should i make a mistake i don’t want photos to be gone. The idea of the program is cool, but in functionality and overview i must say i’m very dissapointed. best wishes, Jori

  3. I have two suggestions:

    Upgrade to the latest version of iPhoto, 6. It’s way better than version 4.
    Try iPhoto Diet – it’s excellent. Just make a backup first!!


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