getting iphoto library BACK to my computer from ext harddrive

Dec 18, 2014
Reaction score

Last night I updated my OS to 10.10.1 and also updated to latest version of iPhoto.

Then - on a roll - I wanted to update my iPhoto library to an external hard drive (it had been a while). This hard drive is not usually connected to my computer, but only used for backing up files.

I moved the iPhoto library to the ext. hard drive thinking I copied it. I didn't. So now the library is on the ext. drive and not my computer. I can run iPhoto when the ext. hard drive is connected, but when it is not it is asking me which library to use.

Basically I want the iPhoto library to be BOTH on the internal drive and the external drive.

So - how do I copy it back into my 'pictures' folder?

And how do I - in the future - copy the iPhoto library (for back up) to the ext drive without removing it from the internal drive?

I hope someone can help.

Many thanks in advance.


Jun 12, 2011
Reaction score
Melbourne, Australia and Ubud, Bali, Indonesia
Your Mac's Specs
2021 M1 MacBook Pro 14" macOS 13, iPhone SE 2, iPad 6, Apple Watch SE.
To put your iPhoto library back on your computer is the same process you used to move it the external HD in reverse. I would suggest you give it a different name first eg. iPhoto Library 2. just make sure you put it in the right place. Do not erase the copy on the external drive just yet but eject and disconnect it.
When you start up iPhoto hold down the Option Key. You will be asked which library to open, choose iPhoto Library 2. That will get your photos back.
As for having an updatable backup there are a couple of ways;
You can backup your iPhoto Library to iCloud which may cost you money depending on the size of your library. You get 5Gb free.
You can use third party applications such as Chronosync (Check the App Store) to perform incremental backups after a complete backup but this will likely cost you money too.
You can update the HD copy manually (not recommended).
Or you can Clone your entire computer using Carbon Copy Cloner or SuperDuper giving you an updatable backup of everything including your iPhoto Library. (Reccomended).
This will require you to purchase a new USB HD more than big enough to fit your entire computer HD on it. 1TB will cost you less than $100.00 these days.
CCC will set you back about $25.00.
Last edited:

Shop Amazon

Shop for your Apple, Mac, iPhone and other computer products on Amazon.
We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon and affiliated sites.