Combine libraries in Photos

Use these steps on your Mac to combine photos and videos from separate Photos libraries into one library.

To combine Photos libraries, export the photos from a previous library or library you no longer want to use, then import the photos to your primary library.


Export photos from your library

  1. Press and hold the Option key as you open the Photos app.
  2. Select the Library that you no longer want, then click Choose Library.
    macOS Photos app "Choose Library" window
  3. Choose View > Photos > Library, then click All Photos.
  4. Choose Edit > Select All to select all items in your library.
  5. Choose File > Export, then choose an option:
    • To export your photos as-is and preserve any edits, choose “Export [number] Photos,” then select any additional options.1
    • To export your photos as unmodified originals (without edits), choose “Export Unmodified Original for [number] Photos,” then select any additional options.If your photos include IPTC metadata (such as titles or keywords) that you want to keep, select the Export IPTC as XMP checkbox.
  6. Click Export, choose a destination to save your photos, click New Folder and enter a name for the folder, click Create, then click Export.


Import photos to your primary library

  1. Quit Photos, then press and hold the Option key as you open the Photos app.
  2. Select the library that you want to import your photos to, then click Choose Library.
  3. Choose File > Import.
  4. In the Import window, navigate to the Finder folder that contains the photos and videos that you want to import.
  5. Select the photos and videos to import, then choose Review for Import.
  6. Click Import All New Photos.

If you created subfolders when you exported the items and you want to create an Album for each subfolder, follow these steps:

  1. In the Import window, select the folders you want to import as albums.
  2. Select the Keep Folder Organization checkbox in the upper corner of the window. The top level folder is imported as a folder in Photos, and subfolders are imported as albums.


Save space by deleting the previous library

After you combine libraries and confirm your photos imported successfully, you can save space by deleting the library that you no longer need. Find the first Photos library and move it to the trash, then choose Finder > Empty Trash to permanently delete the files. 


1. To find only edited photos in your library, you can create a smart album that has “Photo, is, edited” as a criteria for the album.

2. If your photos aren't captured on an iPhone or iPad, you may need to export photos in their original format.

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