How to Export Your Mac Photos Library

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There are any number of reasons that one may want to export their Mac Photos (formerly iPhoto) library, including that they want to give it to someone else, they want to duplicate it on another machine, or they want to back their entire Photos library up to another location. But how to export your Photo library, while very simple to do, is not obvious. So, here’s how to export your entire Mac Photos library.

You would think that the Export option under the Photos menu would give you some relief.

Export from Mac Photos
mac photos menu export



But you would be wrong.

No Export Full Library Option in Mac Photos
mac photos export options


Now, you can export all of your photos:

export all photos mac photos


But that only exports the actual photo files, not your full library that can be opened with Photos as a library with all of the library settings, etc..

mac photos export exported photos

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So, how can you export the actual library? It’s actually very easy; here’s how.

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How to Export Your Mac Photos Library

How to Export Your Mac Photos Library

The first step in exporting your Mac Photos library is determining where your library resides on your hard drive.

To do that, open Preferences in Photos:

mac photos preferences


Look in the General section, where it says Library Location:

mac photos preferences general library location


Now, click on Show in Finder

mac photos library location show in finder button


This will open a Finder window with your current Mac Photos library highlighted

find mac photos library to export


*NOTE: Your Mac Photos library will almost certainly be called something else; we changed the name of the file for the purposes of this tutorial.

Now…here is the secret: to export your Mac Photos library to another location, all you have to do is copy that file over to the new location!

export Mac Photos library to new location


That’s it, you’re done!

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How to Export Your Mac Photos Library

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1 Reply to “How to Export Your Mac Photos Library”

  1. You may want to be careful to check the Mac Photos app is not set to ‘optimise library’, in which case not all photos reside on the local drive but may be stored in iCloud Library instead, with only a low-res preview in the local library.
    Going through the photo export menu will actually download all photos even in that scenario.

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