Migrating from iPhoto – The what, the why and the risks…


Many of you may not have even noticed. It’s only a subtle change, but it’s an important one.

Within the last few years, iPhoto has disappeared from Apple’s macOS’s since 10.13. Instead, Apple now has Photos.app as their image viewing/editing application.

Big deal? It doesn’t sound like it. But if you care about keeping your old photos safe, and you’re still using an older device, it could be huge. Especially if you’re like a recent client who had 3 different Macs with 3 different image libraries; 2 in iPhoto and the remaining in Photos format – 1 on each Mac!

If you’re buying a new Apple computer or mobile device, the Photos application is already installed as standard. The good news is that there are ways to transition from iPhoto when you make the switch. The bad news is they aren’t particularly easy and could put your data at risk.

What happened to iPhoto?

iPhoto was last available on its own in macOS 10.12, before transitioning to Photos in macOS 10.13, after its initial introduction within iOS on the iPhone.

The transition was announced in 2014, with Apple ending development for the popular consumer photo library application. The all-new product would be focused on saving items directly to the iCloud, offering more versatility for users.

How is Photos different?

The most noticeable change for new users will be the change in appearance. The interface is optimised for casual users, making it easy to search and find your favourite pics in just seconds.

You can still make the edits you’re used to in your iPhoto software, they’re just hidden away a little more. On the whole, the Photos application has made editing functions much easier, especially for mobile devices.

Many Apple users on older devices complain about running out of space. However, the newer versions of Photos store your images on iCloud – with a lower-resolution thumbnail being saved directly on your iPhone, iPad or Mac. This means you can say goodbye to storage worries, but hello to even more photos on your device.

So – how can I transfer my photos from the iPhoto software?

If you’re using iPhoto 8.0 or above, Photos can use libraries from iPhoto and you’ll have access to your images without officially transitioning.

However, if you’d like to migrate a library from iPhoto 7 or earlier, you’ll need to use Apple’s free iPhoto Library Upgrader tool to prepare your library first. 

There are plenty of steps to prepare your library before you upgrade, and many risks along the way. If you’re confident you can do it yourself, you can find a full guide from Apple here.

When migrating, one thing you’ll likely lose is the metadata within your images. This means you’ll lose the date it was taken, its location and any notes attached to the images. This often holds sentimental value for a lot of people and data loss is avoidable by working with a professional.

Importantly, this process can also take a very long time. Even with human input taking only a couple of hours, the full conversion process can last for multiple days. If one device runs out during the process, it can mean the data is lost over both devices too.

Don’t take the risk – speak to a professional

If this all sounds a bit confusing – well, that’s because it is. We’d always recommend that you talk to a professional like XMAC when undertaking a complex software transition that could risk your data and back-up at every stage!

Apple products are our passion. To many valued customers all over the south of England, we have provided long-term support and protection for devices that not only ensure you don’t lose those valuable pictures but get the best out of your Apple product at all times.

Get in touch today and find out how XMAC can help you.