macOS High Sierra

Create additional photo libraries

You can create additional photo libraries to organize your photos, albums, and projects (such as books, cards, and calendars), and then switch between the libraries. For example, you could keep separate libraries for personal photos and work photos. Or, if you have children who take photos, you can keep their photos in a separate library.

Important: If you use iCloud Photo Library, remember that only the photos and video in your System Photo Library are synchronized with iCloud. Be sure to back up all of your photo libraries. For more information, see Back up the Photos library.

Open Photos for me

Create a new photo library

  1. If Photos is open, choose Photos > Quit Photos.

  2. Hold down the Option key and double-click the Photos icon in the Applications folder (or click the Photos icon in the Dock) to open Photos.

  3. In the Choose Library dialog, click Create New.

  4. Type a library name and choose a location to store the library.

  5. Click OK.

Switch between photo libraries

  1. If Photos is open, choose Photos > Quit Photos.

  2. Hold down the Option key and double-click the Photos icon in the Applications folder (or click the Photos icon in the Dock) to open Photos.

  3. In the Choose Library dialog, do one of the following:

    • Click the library you want to use, then click Choose Library.

    • If the library you want doesn’t appear in the Choose Library dialog, click Other Library, navigate to the location of the library, select it, then click Choose Library.

Designate a library as the System Photo Library

You can switch to another library and designate it as the System Photo Library. For information about considerations to keep in mind when designating a different System Photo Library, see System Photo Library overview.

To designate the current library as the System Photo Library:

  • Choose Photos > Preferences, click General, then click Use as System Photo Library.

Important: If you switch to another library, Photos automatically turns off all iCloud services. To use iCloud Photo Library, iCloud Photo Sharing, and My Photo Stream with a newly designated System Photo Library, you must turn them on again in the iCloud pane of Photos preferences. When you turn on iCloud Photo Library after designating a new System Photo Library, the photos stored in iCloud are merged with those in the new System Photo Library. Once the content from the new System Photo Library is uploaded to iCloud, the libraries cannot be unmerged, so it’s a good idea to consider carefully before changing your System Photo Library.

Make more room in your Photos library

If you run out of storage on your computer, Photos alerts you. To make more space, you can delete photos from your library.

WARNING: If you delete photos while iCloud Photo Library is turned on, the photos are deleted from iCloud and all your devices that use iCloud Photo Library.

  1. Select the photos to delete, then press Command-Delete.

    Your deleted files are moved to the Recently Deleted album, where they remain for the number of days shown. You can delete photos immediately from the Recently Deleted album to save space.

  2. Click the Recently Deleted album in the sidebar.

  3. Select the photos to delete immediately from your library, then click Delete [number] Items.