Apple Photos help needed

Recently I have taken in a friend’s old iMAC 27" to be brought back from a state of being nearly dead. It was still running Mavericks with the old HDD and not a lot of RAM, so I duly went about upgrading it with an SSD, much more RAM, a replacement Superdrive and a fresh installation of High Sierra patched up to Mavericks. All pretty straightforward stuff, and it’s now running like a champ. However, in migrating all her documents, music, etc… over I’ve hit a snag with the Photos. She has two iPhoto libraries and I have found that while I can apply one to the newer Photos, it won’t take any more than one. Any attempts to apply another it just doesn’t want to know.

I have tried exporting the other library on a spare MacBook and then importing it, but you essentially end up with one great lumped event and no other info or album splits. So my question to the Mac experts here is, how can I best combine two iPhoto Libraries into one Photos library?

Hi Richard, does she have access to the libraries through other Apple devices?
Are they both accessed via the same Apple ID or via 2 different ones?

They’re both just on this HDD via one account. She wants all the photo combined so she can see them in Photos all together. And she does not wish to use iCloud for anything.

Remember that the iphoto library is just a big file, and as such I would take a copy of it before doing anything. You can actually open different library files by pressing the Option button as you open the library.

I wasn’t entirely sure what you mean by “applying one to the newer photos”

Presumably all photos were not backed up to the cloud before the upgrade.

Just seen your second post, so she had two accounts on her last device (and therefore two libraries), and she wants to merge them both into one Library

Have you tried this?
Note that iPhoto needs to be switched off for the 2nd library.

I have tried that but it just shades out the library I want to import.

She had iPhotos on an old MacBook and iPhotos on the iMAC. The MacBook is long gone, so just a big old iPhoto file is there along with the other iPhoto file. If I apply one of the files to Photos, all is fine, but I then can’t add or apply the other iPhoto file - it says I’ve already applied it even though it’s a different iPhoto file. Frustrating.

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The method below may work. Basically you sync your current library to the cloud (you may need to buy more cloud space, temporarily), then open the other library (using option key) and sync that library, then go back to your original one

I had the worst time trying to import all my stuff from my original Apple ID to my new one a few years ago. Finally deleted and consigned my old one to oblivion just yesterday.
I don’t get why these things end up being so difficult when the reality of what you want to do is so simple.
I’m sorry I can’t help further, but good luck. I’m sure somebody on here will sort you out… :crossed_fingers:t4:

I’m under orders not to use the Cloud and the internet drops here regularly so any uploading or downloading is not easy.

Hm, so it may be her only option is to use the option key to open either library as she needs it. At least that is a work around.

Just another thought, have you tried copying her old library to a new name, and then seeing if that will import to the main one? May be that the originally is just locked. Of course a reboot may be worth trying also

I can open each iPhoto file in clean Photos on different machines. Is there a way to export one with all album info/metadata intact? That may work. It just seems daft that you can’t combine separate libraries into one.

I don’t think you can export, the Photo library is just a folder containing lots of database files. But I’ve had success in copying that folder, moving it around and renaming it all done in Finder, under “Pictures”

Give Apple Customer Service a call. I’ve always found them to be extraordinarily helpful and I’m sure they’ll come up with a solution.

Can you first combine the two iPhoto libraries on a different machine, then move it as a single file to Photos on the iMac?

I’m not an Apple expert but this reads to me like each Photo library is in effect its own little database with the photos being held separately. You can therefore import one but not the other as they overwrite/clash. Is it possible to just export one of the libraries photos as standalone images ie just a flat file. You should then be able to import that file into the other Photos libraries, might lose some of the metadata.

There is an export facility within photos. Go to top row File-Export then select from a list of options. There is also an import option as well.

Please ignore all above if I am totally off-beam.

No, even on a totally clean separate machine with a new install, you just cannot combine two libraries. Unless of course you can, but I haven’t managed to figure out how…

That’s the only way I have found so far but you lose all metadata on the way and end up with one big event, which is not ideal.

Have you seen /tried this:

If the Photos Option->Select Library->Import technique for combining Apple libraries doesn’t work, perhaps you can use a local NAS to do this without resorting to iCloud.

Synology Photos can import from iPhoto, Apple Photo and iPhone Photos and preserves metadata… I expect other popular home NAS applications offer similar functionality. Your friend would then have a backup (and a local archiving solution), or could create a new Photos library from the merged library and just keep going with that.

Note for backing up from the iPhone, the easiest way is to install the Synology Photos app, set it to backup, and ensure it’s only enabled for wifi. It can take time, over the course of a few days perhaps given the likely huge number of photos involved nowadays, but it works.