If you’re using the new Photos app on your Mac instead of the older iPhoto app, you most likely have a duplicate photo library floating around on your hard drive. For a lot of people, that could mean gigs and gigs of wasted storage space, especially on shared Macs with multiple migrated libraries.
Here’s how to check for multiple libraries and how to delete them…
Before deleting your old library: Make a backup
While the Photos app should have imported all your photos and videos just fine, I always recommend having backups handy. Perhaps you’ll delete an old photo by accident at some point and want it back later. If you have a copy of your old iPhoto library still handy, you can pull it form there as a last resort.
I saved my old iPhoto library to my Dropbox account. You can of course use any service of your choice, or just drop it onto an external hard disk you have laying around. Regardless of how you do it, I’d highly recommend saving a copy before deleting it.
Once you’ve backed up your old iPhoto library (if you chose to do so), you can proceed with deleting it:
- Open a new Finder window on your Mac.
- Click on Pictures in the left hand navigation. If it isn’t there, just search for your pictures folder using Spotlight.
- You should see two libraries, one is your old iPhoto Library and one is your new Photos library.
- Move your iPhoto Library to your trash can and empty it.
Check the storage space on your Mac, you should notice that you have more storage space available. If you are on a shared Mac and have multiple user logins, everyone using the new version of Photos on that Mac should make sure they don’t also have duplicate libraries.
I’m not sure why Apple doesn’t create a process to delete old versions of libraries after migrating to Photos, but they should. Until that happens, you’ll have to delete your old library manually.
Give this tip a try and see how much storage space you were able to clear up. As you can see in the screens above, my old iPhoto library was over 30GB, which was definitely a healthy chunk of hard drive space that I now have back.
Your Mac storage tips?
This is one of many ways to regain storage space on your Mac without having to sacrifice losing data. But we know there are lots of others. What are some of your favorite Mac storage tips for recapturing space? We’ve love to hear them in the comments!
A follower on Twitter referenced to me an article written on Six Colors pointing out that the library is actually hard-linked between versions. While this may be true when you first migrate, it seems that if you make any changes to any files and the libraries become different, splicing can and will occur.
To test this theory, I deleted my iPhoto library on my other Mac to see how much storage was freed up. For those wondering, my iPhoto library was 35.99 GB and my Photos library was 41.16 GB. You can see the before and after results on my hard disk space below. I was able to free up over 20 GB of space. So I’m not sure what I think about hard linking or how well it’s actually working between Photos and iPhoto.
Bottom line, if you’re short on storage space and you want to free some up, there’s really not much point in having two photo libraries floating around on your Mac. Hard linking or not, deleting the old library will free up space in almost every case.