Get help with the Photos app on your Mac

If Photos for macOS isn't starting up or performing as expected, try these tips.

Back up your library

Before following any of these steps, it's a good idea to create a backup of your photo library, even if you use iCloud Photo Library. You can use Time Machine, use a third-party backup solution, or copy the library to an external drive. By default, your photo library is stored in the Pictures folder within your home folder.

Make sure that your software is up to date

Photos is part of the Mac operating system (v10.10.3 and later). You can avoid or fix many issues by running the most up-to-date version of macOS. To check for updates, open the App Store, click Updates at the top of the window, and install any available macOS updates. Learn more about updating the software on your Mac.

If you use RAW images in Photos, make sure that you're running the latest Digital RAW Camera Compatibility update. Check for updates in the App Store, and install any available Digital Camera RAW Compatibility update. You can learn more about the digital camera RAW formats supported by iOS 10 and macOS Sierra.

If you have trouble migrating an existing iPhoto or Aperture library to Photos

You might see an alert message when you first open Photos or migrate an existing iPhoto or Aperture library. Learn what to do if Photos can’t copy or create a library.

If the Media Browser isn't showing your photos and videos

The Media Browser lets you use images from your photo library in other apps, like Pages and iMovie. The Media Browser shows only the contents of the Photos library designated as the System Photo Library. If you have more than one Photos library—and the one you're using isn't set as the System Photo Library—the Media Browser won't show its contents.

Follow these steps to designate the current library as the System Photo Library:

  1. Choose Photos > Preferences.
  2. Click the General button at the top of the Preferences window.
  3. Click the Use as System Photo Library button.

If you're having other issues with Photos

If you're experiencing other issues—like missing or blank photo thumbnails, unexpected behavior, or if Photos won’t open—you can repair your library using the steps below. 

The Photos repair tool analyzes the library's database and repairs any inconsistencies it detects. Depending on the size of your library, this might take some time. When the process is complete, Photos opens your library.

Follow these steps to use the Photos repair tool:

  1. Make sure that you've backed up your main Photos library.
  2. Quit Photos if it's open.
  3. Press and hold the Option and Command keys as you open Photos again. 
  4. The Repair Library dialog appears. Click Repair, and then enter an administrator password to begin running the Photos repair tool.

If you're using iCloud Photo Library, running the Photos repair tool will cause your library to re-update with iCloud.

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