Splitting iPhoto Library

I finally split my iPhoto library in two. My 13,000 photos had slowed iPhoto to a crawl. Unfortunately, I was duped into buying the pay version of iPhoto Library Manager, which offers the ability to drag-and-drop albums to split a library. Once I read more closely, I discovered that I didn’t really want to copy albums to another library — I wanted to copy all images shot between particular dates! The software wouldn’t do this, and I did it manually instead. I completed the following steps.

  • Quit iPhoto
  • Create a new, empty folder within Home -> Pictures to serve as the new library folder
  • Copy as many of the photo folders (the ones named by date) and all of the supporting library files into the new folder, leaving a copy behind (hold down the Option key when you copy).
  • Launch iPhoto, holding down the Option key. Choose the new Library.
  • Delete all of the images from the earlier years not included in your copy operation, and empty the trash.
  • Relaunch iPhoto with the original library and delete all of the images that you moved.

Now I have two library folders, one with the newest images that loads quickly, and a larger one containing older photos. I hold down the option key when iPhoto launches in order to change libraries. I did this with iPhoto 5.

I would love to hear your iPhoto library management suggestions.


  1. bohdi says:

    Hi – when you write "copy as man of the photo folders" – are you doing this from Finder – or from iPhoto? And – if from Finder- are you choosing Originals – or doing it some other way?

    I have more or less the same problem as you had – and am struggeling with finding a way to copy only the original pictures – and maintaining the film-roll sequence. The thumbnails and modified tag along, and the order is mixed up….


  2. rkassissieh says:

    From the Finder. Originals. I don’t modify my photos much, so that’s probably why I haven’t run into the same problems as you.