iPhoto: Missing photos from library

You may notice one or more of these issues after you open iPhoto:

  • Some or all photos may be missing.
  • The photos that appear in the library may not have the contents you expect.
  • iPhoto may prompt you to choose or create a library.

Note: If only a few images are missing, see article "What to do about a Missing Photo".

This article has been archived and is no longer updated by Apple.

Make sure that iPhoto is pointed at the correct iPhoto library. By default, iPhoto will look in the Pictures folder in your home folder for the iPhoto library. If you have deleted the iPhoto preferences file or have moved the iPhoto library from its default location, iPhoto may not be able to initially locate the iPhoto library you were previously working with.

Follow these steps to locate each iPhoto library on your computer:

  1. Press Command-F or choose File > Find and search for the filename of a photo in your iPhoto library.
  2. Select the image in the results list to see the path to the iPhoto library at the bottom of the Finder window.  Make a note of the file path to find the library again later.
    Note: The path will appear at the bottom of your screen if you have chosen Show Path Bar from the View menu in Finder.
  3. Press and hold the Option key on your keyboard while you open iPhoto. Keep the Option key held down until you see this prompt, which asks you to choose or create a photo library:
  4. Click "Choose Library..." and navigate to the location you found and noted in step 2. 
  5. Select the iPhoto library to point iPhoto to it.
  6. Open iPhoto to confirm your images are appearing as expected.


If you have selected the correct library and are still having issues locating your pictures in the library, verify and/or repair the drive where your library is located with Disk Utility. If Disk Utility does not resolve the issue, consult the following articles for further troubleshooting recommendations.

iPhoto 6 or later: Rebuilding the iPhoto library

iPhoto 5 and earlier: Rebuilding the iPhoto library

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