If Photos can’t copy or create a library

If the Photos app shows any of these alert messages when you first open Photos or migrate an existing iPhoto or Aperture library, follow these instructions.

"Photos was unable to make a copy of your library before preparing it. There were file system or hardware issues…”

This alert usually means that there is a physical problem or data corruption in the disk where your photo library is located. 

Try any of the following: 

  • Open the Disk Utility app and analyze and repair the disk. It's a good idea to make a backup of the disk before you make any repairs.
  • Copy the library to a different disk (for example, an external drive). 
  • Recover the library from a reliable backup to a different disk. 

To test if each potential solution worked, quit Photos, then hold down the Option key and open Photos. When Photos asks you to choose a library, select the library you repaired or recovered.

"Photos was unable to make a copy of your library before preparing it. Photos does not have the necessary permissions..."

This alert usually means there are incorrect permissions for the folder that contains your photo library.

If your photo library is in its default location in the Pictures folder, use this set of Terminal commands to set new permissions:

1. Open the Terminal app.

2. Type the following command and press Return. Substitute the name of your user account for your_username.

sudo chown -R your_username /Users/your_username/Pictures

3. When prompted, type your OS X user account password and press Return.

4. Type the following command and press Return. Substitute the name of your user account for your_username.

sudo chmod -R 700 /Users/your_username/Pictures

5. Quit Photos, then hold down the Option key and open Photos.

6. When Photos asks you to choose a library, try to migrate the library again.

"The library could not be created. Photos does not have the necessary permissions..."

This alert usually means there are incorrect permissions for the folder where you are creating a new Photos library. 

If your Photos library is in your Pictures folder, use this set of Terminal commands to set new permissions:

1. Open the Terminal app.

2.Type the following command and press Return. Substitute the name of your user account for your_username.

sudo chown -R your_username /Users/your_username/Pictures 

3. Type the following command and press Return. Substitute the name of your user account for your_username.

sudo chmod -R 700 /Users/your_username/Pictures

5. Quit Photos, then hold down the Option key and open Photos. 

6. When Photos asks you to choose a library, try to migrate the library again.

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