How to Export a Photo from iPhoto Library?

Shreyas Patil SEO
Shreyas PatilUpdated :
How to Export a Photo from iPhoto Library

Exporting photos from the iPhoto library may be required to use the pictures in other applications, upload and share them online, or as a backup. This comprehensive guide will walk through the entire process of locating photos in the iPhoto library, exporting them, choosing file formats and sizes, and troubleshooting any issues.

Before learning how to export photos, it is important to understand what the iPhoto library is and why one may need to export pictures from it.

What is iPhoto Library?

The iPhoto library is the default location on Mac computers where all photos imported into the Apple's iPhoto application are stored. This includes photos from various sources:

  • Digital cameras or SD cards connected to the Mac
  • Screenshots taken on the Mac
  • Images saved from emails or webpages
  • Scanned documents and photos

The iPhoto library allows users to organize all these photos in one place instead of scattered across the computer.

Types of Photos Stored in iPhoto Library

Some common types of photos users may accumulate in the iPhoto library over time include:

  • Camera roll photos from vacations, parties, weddings, etc.
  • Scanned old photo prints from film cameras
  • Artwork photographs
  • Screenshots captured on the Mac
  • Profile pictures or creative images edited within iPhoto

Reasons to Export Photos from iPhoto Library

Some common reasons why a user may want to export photos from the consolidated iPhoto library include:

  • Backing up favorite or edited photos external hard drives
  • Sharing high-resolution photos that exceed email attachment limits
  • Uploading photos to social networks which require files from the local storage
  • Attach photos to school assignments, official documents, job applications etc.
  • Use photos in other applications like graphic design software

In all these use cases, photos need to be exported out of iPhoto library to the local storage or external devices.

Locating the Photos in iPhoto Library

Before exporting, the first step is to locate the desired photos within the vast iPhoto library collection.

Opening iPhoto Application

If iPhoto is not already open, navigate to Applications folder > iPhoto app icon and double click to launch the software. One can also use Spotlight Search and type "iPhoto" to bring up the application.

Navigating to Photos

Once in iPhoto, photos can be accessed in different ways:

  • Events Tab: Photos imported from external devices get sorted by date into Events like Vacation June 2022, Hannah’s Wedding etc. Navigate between events here.
  • Albums Tab: Custom albums created by users for topics like Best Of 2022, Family Reunion etc. View photos album-wise.
  • Photos Tab: Displays all photos in grid view chronologically by import date into the library.
  • Faces Tab: Uses facial recognition to sort photos with similar faces into categories. Helps find all photos per person.

Selecting Photos to Export

Once the desired photos are located through any above method, they can be flagged for export by:

  • Click on individual photos to select one by one
  • Keep Shift key pressed to select a group of contiguous photos
  • Keep Command key pressed to make non-contiguous multi-selections

The selected photos will have a thick blue border around them, indicating they are set to be exported next.

Exporting Photos from iPhoto Library

Once target photos are selected, next step is exporting them out of iPhoto library to a location on the local Mac storage or external devices.

Exporting Single Photo

To export only a single photo, follow steps:

Step 1: Select Photo

Click on the photo to be exported so it has the blue selection border.

Step 2: Click Export Button

Go to File menu > Export > Export "X" Photo where X is number of selected photos. Or simpler yet, click the Export button from iPhoto toolbar.

The Export Photo dialog popup will open.

Step 3: Choose Export Location

Select the location like Desktop, Documents folder etc. where exported photo should get saved. Give filename if required. Click Export.

The photo gets exported as image file to chosen location, while still being available in the iPhoto library for future access.

Exporting Multiple Photos

To export more than one photo, similar export process is followed:

Step 1: Select Photos

Follow selection techniques mentioned above to choose multiple target photos from iPhoto Library to export.

Step 2: Click Export Button

Same as before, initiate export by File menu > Export or use the Export toolbar button with multiple photos selected.

Step 3: Choose Export Location

Pick export location in popup dialog, check filename, click Export.

All chosen photos will be exported with original names or given custom name while still being retained within iPhoto Library.

Exporting All Photos

To export the entire iPhoto collection or the photos contained within a particular Event, Album etc.:

Step 1: Select All

Instead of selecting individual photos, choose “Select All” option by:

  • Press Command+A
  • Or Edit Menu > Select All

This selects all photos from currently open Event, Album etc. ready for export.

Step 2: Click Export Button

Follow same steps to bring up Export Photo dialog by toolbar button or File menu.

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Step 3: Choose Export Location

Pick parent folder to export all photos into, like external hard drive or Mac documents folder. Click Export.

This will export entire current photo collection into destination folder as individual image files with original names.

So with few clicks, bulk export or even full iPhoto library backup is possible.

Export Photo File Formats

During iPhoto export process, users can choose to convert the photo file format as well based on downstream usage of images.

Some popular formats include:


JPEG (Joint Photographic Experts Group) is the most common and widely compatible image format. Photos get compressed for smaller size but some image quality loss may occur at high compression. Ideal for web usage.


PNG (Portable Network Graphics) is a lossless raster format so no quality reduction but leads to larger file sizes. Supports transparency so ideal for graphic overlays.


TIFF (Tagged Image File Format) is large, high quality lossless image format supporting up to 16 channels per pixel. Used in professional photography and desktop publishing.


RAW image format contains uncompressed, unprocessed data directly from camera sensors. Maintains maximum image quality for editing flexibility. Specialized software like Photoshop required to open RAW files.

By default iPhoto saves photos imported from iPhone, cameras, or screenshots in standard JPEG format. But on export photos may be converted to any above formats based on intended usage - sharing online or professional editing etc.

Export Photo Sizes

Apart from file format, users can also control the resolution and dimensions i.e. size of the exported photo during iPhoto export operation.

Some frequently used export sizes are:

Original Size

By default, iPhoto retains the original, full resolution dimensions of photos during export process, providing maximum detail. Useful to print and frame photos later or heavily crop images.

But original size photos occupy more storage space.

Small Size

Photos can be exported at scaled-down small sizes like 800x600 pixels or less. These take minimum storage space and are optimal for email attachments and web uploads. But detail is limited if images are enlarged later.

Medium Size

Medium export sizes ranging from 1024x768 to 1920x1080 pixels provide a good balance. Images have enough resolution for basic editing work with decent cropping flexibility and file sizes suited for social media use.

Large Size

For commercial-grade resolution suitable for brochures, catalogs, magazine prints and more, photos can be exported at large 4K+ sizes like 3000x2000 pixels or more. This allows significant post-processing editing while retaining print quality.

Custom Size

Beyond fixed presets, users can define exact custom dimensions in pixels or ratio for exported photos. Allows fine-grained control for target usage.

Choosing right export size allows users to retain high quality originals within iPhoto library while exporting lighter versions for everyday external usage, saving storage capacity.

Troubleshooting Export Issues

Despite best practices, sometimes photo exports from iPhoto do not go as smoothly. Some common issues faced include:

Slow Export Speed

Large high-resolution photo exports with original size can take long time to process and write to external devices due to file sizes. This issue is heightened if exporting over wireless networks.

Solution: Use wired networks, export smaller photo sizes, break up into multiple smaller batches.

Export Failing Error

Sometimes export gets aborted midway showing errors like storage full or connectivity problems.

Solution: Check available space on export device, retry on wired networks in smaller batches.

Partial Photo Exports

Only few photos get exported out total selection due to issues like storage filling up midway, network drop etc.

Solution: Confirm adequate available storage before export. Retry remaining photos in smaller batches.

Checking Export Location

Users may forget to set export location correctly before starting export leading to lost photos when location cannot be traced later.

Solution: Always confirm export folder path after process ends to ensure photos exported properly. Cross-verify count of exported images matches selected count.

So by following best practices and addressing above common issues, photo exports can be vastly simplified and success rate improved.

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Exporting photos from the iPhoto library provides ability to use the images beyond Mac in versatile ways - sharing online, editing professionally, submitting with documents etc. while retaining original versions in consolidated iPhoto library.

This guide covers the end to end workflow - identifying desired photos within iPhoto app through Events, Albums etc., selecting them, choosing export parameters like location path, file format, image size as per downstream usage, and troubleshooting any issues faced.

Following these steps and best practices will help users reliably export iPhoto library images in usable resolution and sizes for any external need. The photos continue to be safely stored in iPhoto app as backup while customized versions are exported, giving best of both worlds.

So unlock full potential of photos accumated over the years within iPhoto library to use outside Mac with ease!

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