Where iPhoto Pictures are Located and How to Access the iPhoto Library and Picture Files

Where iPhoto Pictures are Located and How to Access the iPhoto Library and Picture Files

Aug 30, 2011 - 8 Comments
iPhoto pictures location

iPhoto is a great picture management app, but you may still occasionally want to access the original picture files for a variety of purposes, either to import them into another app or for backup purposes. This is easily done, but what exactly you are looking for depends on which version of iPhoto you are using.

Where iPhoto Pictures Are Stored

iPhoto pictures are stored within the home /Pictures/ directory, in a file called iPhoto Library. But with newer versions of iPhoto, iPhoto Library became a package file rather than a folder, so in order to access the original picture files you have to go one step further in one of two locations:

iPhoto 9 pictures location:

/Pictures/iPhoto Library/Masters/

iPhoto 8 and prior versions pictures location:

/Pictures/iPhoto Library/Originals/

Accessing the iPhoto Picture Files and Originals

You can either access the directory from Go To Folder command within the Mac OS X Desktop by hitting Command+Shift+G or by opening the directory manually:
  • Open /Pictures/ and locate the “iPhoto Library” file
  • Right-Click and select “Show Package Contents”
  • Navigate to “Masters” or “Originals” to find your original iPhoto pictures
Picture Organization by /Year/Month/Date/

Regardless of the version of iPhoto, the pictures are stored and organized by folders based on dates, broken down by year, month, and day. For example, pictures imported on August 30th 2011 would be in the folder “2011″ followed by “August” and then within that directory, another named “30″. If you know exactly what import date you are looking for you can specify that as a full path and go directly to it, like so:

/Pictures/iPhoto Library/Masters/2011/August/30/

The precise path format varies slightly in iPhoto versions, and older versions may contain full dates in the directory in the format of “August 30, 2011″ but it’s not any more difficult to work with. These directories are also the same regardless of the device the pictures originated from, whether it’s from an iPhone or a digital camera.

Once you’re in the directory, you can copy these files over to elsewhere and it will not impact your iPhoto library assuming the originals remain in the library.