Is iPhoto using up gigabytes of disk space on your Mac?

Apple has replaced iPhoto with the new Photos app and this raises a few questions, such as, is the old iPhoto app still worth keeping, and is the old iPhoto library necessary? Both occupy gigabytes of disk space.

If you have upgraded to Photos, the question of whether to keep the old app and iPhoto library are important issues. What are the implications of removing them?

This came to a head recently when using App Store to check for updates to OS X. For some reason, an update for iPhoto was listed. However, it cannot be updated and the update button reported that the app is no longer in the store. This is after upgrading to Photos months ago.

Mac App Store updates

Opening the Applications folder shows iPhoto, but the icon has been replaced with one that clearly indicates it should no longer be used. In fact, it will not run if it is clicked.

Finder on the Apple Mac

If iPhoto will not run and cannot be updated, there is no point in keeping it on the Mac. It might as well be removed to free up the disk space. Drag the icon to the Trash, enter the admin password when the system asks for it, and get rid of it.

iPhoto is not part of OS X and it is a separate app. Your photos are stored on the disk drive separate to the app and they are not contained in the App’s folder. This means that iPhoto can safely be deleted. It will not do any harm and you will recover the disk space.

What about the iPhoto library? It is stored in the Pictures folder in your home folder, and so is the Photos library. Here's mine:

Photos library in OS X

When you switch to the Photos app from iPhoto, it creates its own new photo library that is separate to the old iPhotos library. Here you can see iPhoto Library.migratediphotolibrary, which occupies 6.77GB of disk space, and Photos Library.photoslibrary suing 8.31GB.

I don’t have many photos and some people have 100GB or more, so the space usage could be huge with duplicated libraries, but are they duplicated?

It looks like the photos are stored twice and the total disk usage for both libraries is around 15GB.

Is it OK to delete the old iPhoto library?

Things are not what they appear to be and what Finder reports is not actually what is stored on the disk drive. Go to the Apple menu and click About This Mac. Select the Storage tab to really see how much disk space your photos are using. On this Mac it says 8.71GB, not the 15GB you get by adding the old iPhoto and new Photos library. What is going on?

About This Mac

Photos are stored only once on the disk drive, even though it looks like you have both the old and new libraries. Each library contains a database, settings, album information and other data, plus links to the photos on disk.

Because both iPhoto and Photos libraries link to the same photos, the total space reported is roughly the same (my Photos library is bigger in the screen shots because I’ve added a few more photos since upgrading). The sizes you see in Finder are not correct and photos are not duplicated.

Deleting the old iPhoto library would recover just a small amount of disk space – a bit of iPhoto library data plus links to the photos. No photos would be deleted and so no significant disk space would be recovered.

Ignore the space used reported by Finder and use the one in in the Storage tab of About this Mac. Do not delete the old library. It takes up little space anyway, and you never know, it might be needed as a backup.




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