OS X: If you can't see iPhoto images in other apps

Sometimes you might not be able to see the photos or movies you store in iPhoto from other apps like iMovie or Mail.

If you see one or more of the following when you try to use your iPhoto library in another app, follow the steps in this article to resolve these issues.

  • One or more iPhoto album names are not listed in the Photos tab in iTunes.
  • Photos or albums do not appear in the photos pane of the Media Browser in apps like Mail or Safari.
  • Viewing the photos pane in iDVD shows you the message, "Launch iPhoto to populate this list."
  • When you select photos in the Photos pane of iMovie, one or more photos or albums appear to be missing.
  • Photos or albums do not appear in Setup or Options in the Desktop & Screen Saver preferences pane of System Preferences.

Make sure your software is up to date

Use Software Update to make sure OS X, iPhoto and your other apps are up to date. Apply any updates you see listed. Then, open iPhoto and your other apps to see if the issue is resolved.

Open iPhoto

Open iPhoto and make sure your albums and photos appear in iPhoto. If your photos aren't visible in iPhoto, they can't appear in other apps.

When iPhoto can't find your library, it creates a new empty library. If you don't see your photos, make sure iPhoto is set to use an iPhoto Library you previously created that has photos in it:

  1. Hold down the Option key as you open iPhoto. iPhoto shows you all the iPhoto Library files it sees on your computer.
  2. Select a library and click the Choose button.

If you store your iPhoto Library on an external drive and don't see it listed here, make sure your drive is connected and turned on. Click the Other Library button to manually locate and choose a library.

If you still don't see your photos in iPhoto, use Spotlight or the Finder to search for additional iPhoto Library files. Check to see if you've accidentally moved your iPhoto Library file to another Folder, like your Home folder, your Documents folder, or your desktop. 

Check your iPhoto Library

Make sure there is not an ampersand "&" in the path to the iPhoto library in the Finder. For example you may have moved your iPhoto library to a folder called "photos & movies" or a drive named "Mac & Cheese". If so, remove the ampersand from the volume or folder name or relocate your iPhoto library to another folder or drive that doesn't have an ampersand in its name.

Check to see if you have any album names (including smart albums) in your iPhoto source list that contain special characters. Special characters are any character that's not a letter or a number, such as an ampersand. Other special characters include ^*$#(). If there are albums with special characters, remove these characters and see if this resolves the issue.

Recreate related files

iPhoto lets other apps know what photos and movies are available by storing information in two files.

First, delete the iApps plist file, which tells other apps where your iPhoto library and other files are stored.

  1. Click the Finder icon in the Dock.
  2. Hold down the Option key and click the Go menu.
  3. Choose Library from the Go menu.
  4. In the window that appears, locate the Preferences folder.
  5. In the preferences folder, locate the com.apple.iApps file. Drag this file to the Trash, then restart your computer.
  6. Open and iPhoto and iTunes to regenerate this file
  7. Quit iPhoto and iTunes. Then, check to see if your iPhoto images now appear in your other apps.

If your iPhoto images still don’t appear in your other apps, delete the iPhoto Library XML file. This is a plain text listing of the items in your iPhoto Library.

  1. Quit all open applications.
  2. Locate your iPhoto Library in the Finder (it's usually in the Pictures folder of your Home folder).
  3. Right-click or control-click on the iPhoto Library icon and select Show Package Contents from the shortcut menu.
  4. In the window that appears, locate the AlbumData.xml file.
  5. Drag the AlbumData.xml file out of the iPhoto Library folder and onto the Desktop.
  6. Open iPhoto.
  7. From the File menu, choose New Album. This forces iPhoto to update or create an iPhoto Library XML file. 
  8. Quit iPhoto.

Check to see if your iPhoto images now appear in your other apps.

Check iPhoto keywords

Occasionally a malformed keyword can prevent other apps from seeing your iPhoto Library. If you have already tried the other steps in this article, try renaming your iPhoto keywords.

  1. Open iPhoto.
  2. Chose Manage My Keywords from the Window menu.
  3. Click the Edit Keywords button.
  4. Rename each keyword (This can be as simple as adding a 1 to the existing keyword name).
  5. Quit iPhoto.
  6. Open the iLife applications to see if you are able to browse the iPhoto library properly.

Some photos you import might have keywords already included within them as part of EXIF data embedded by your camera. iPhoto attempts to add these keywords to your keyword list when you import your photos. If the keyword contains an unusual character, or is damaged in some way, this can cause the iPhoto Library XML file to become unreadable. When this happens, the photos list displays as empty or blank in other apps. Renaming your keywords can fix this issue. 

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