How to upgrade iPhoto library to Photos for Mac?

Shreyas Patil
Shreyas PatilUpdated :
How to upgrade iPhoto library to Photos for Mac

Photos is the newer photo management app created by Apple to replace iPhoto. Upgrading from iPhoto to Photos allows you to take advantage of Photos' improved organizing and editing features. The process involves exporting your iPhoto library and importing it into Photos.

Is it Necessary to Upgrade from iPhoto to Photos?

Upgrading allows you to:

  • Access more advanced editing tools
  • Sync photos across devices with iCloud Photo Library
  • View photos on a map based on geographic data
  • Use shared albums to privately share photos
  • Utilize facial recognition to auto-organize photos

However, iPhoto still works so upgrading is optional. Consider if the new features are worth changing apps.

How to Export iPhoto Library

Step 1: Open iPhoto and ensure your library is up to date by selecting Photos > Update Library. This may take a while.

Step 2: Go to File > Export to export your original or edited photos. Choose file format, location,etc.

Step 3: Click Export and wait for process to finish. This can take hours if library is very large.

Step 4: Locate the exported Masters folder containing your exported library. Keep this to import into Photos.

How to Import iPhoto Library into Photos

Step 1: Open Photos app and sign in with your Apple ID if prompted.

Step 2: Go to File > Import to select the folder you exported from iPhoto.

Step 3: Photos will import this library and consolidating duplicates can take awhile. Keep app open during process.

Step 4: When finished, your iPhoto library is now available in Photos app!

How to View iPhoto Library Contents in Photos

To view the photos imported from iPhoto:

1. Select Photos tab along top bar.

2. Choose source as "iPhoto" under Media Types section to filter imported content.

3. Browse just photos and videos from your old iPhoto library!

Quick Tip to ensure your videos never go missing

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Frequently Asked Questions

What happens to my iPhoto app after upgrading?

iPhoto will remain on your Mac after upgrading. Feel free to keep using it or delete if no longer needed.

Can I import only some iPhoto albums/events?

Unfortunately it's all or nothing when importing an iPhoto library. The entire library must be exported and then imported.

What about my iPhoto editing adjustments?

Any edits like cropping or color changes will transfer over from iPhoto to Photos.

Will my albums and events be the same in Photos?

Albums will transfer over but not events. You'll see all former event photos in the "iPhoto" Media Type though.

Can I import from an external hard drive?

Yes, as long as the exported Masters folder from iPhoto is stored there, Photos can import it.


Upgrading from iPhoto to Photos requires exporting your entire library from iPhoto and then importing it into Photos. This allows you to start using Photos' newer features and take advantage of iCloud syncing across devices. Just be prepared for the processes to take time. Check your imported content in Photos using the "iPhoto" media source filter.

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