iPhoto is a great picture management app, but you may still occasionally want to access the original picture files for a variety of purposes, either to import them into another app or for backup purposes. This is easily done in Mac OS X, but what exactly you are looking for depends on which version of iPhoto you are using. Whether you’re using the latest iPhoto or an earlier version, we’ll show you exactly how to access your raw photos out of the iPhoto app, stored locally on your Mac.
Do note this location will change when iPhoto app turns into Photos app for OS X.
Where iPhoto Pictures Are Stored
iPhoto pictures are stored within the home /Pictures/ directory, in a file called iPhoto Library. But with newer versions of iPhoto, iPhoto Library became a package file rather than a folder, so in order to access the original picture files you have to go one step further in one of two locations:
iPhoto 11 (9.0) Photo Library Storage Location:
In the latest versions of iPhoto you will find your pictures stored in the user library Pictures folder inside a self contained Iphoto library package, that file and location is the following:
Inside that directory you will find the originals, sorted by date, and broken into subfolders for additional pictures. This is the same with all new versions of iPhoto.
iPhoto 10 picture library:
iPhoto 9 pictures location:
iPhoto 8 and prior versions pictures location:
Accessing the iPhoto Picture Files and Originals
You can either access the directory from Go To Folder command within the Desktop by hitting Command+Shift+G or by opening the directory manually:
- Open /Pictures/ and locate the “iPhoto Library” file
- Right-Click and select “Show Package Contents”
- Navigate to “Masters” or “Originals” to find your original iPhoto pictures
Picture Organization by /Year/Month/Date/
Regardless of the version of iPhoto, the pictures are stored and organized by folders based on dates, broken down by year, month, and day. For example, pictures imported on August 30th 2011 would be in the folder “2011” followed by “August” and then within that directory, another named “30”. If you know exactly what import date you are looking for you can specify that as a full path and go directly to it, like so:
The precise path format varies slightly in iPhoto versions, and older versions may contain full dates in the directory in the format of “August 30, 2011” but it’s not any more difficult to work with. These directories are also the same regardless of the device the pictures originated from, whether it’s from an iPhone or a digital camera.
Once you’re in the directory, you can copy these files over to elsewhere and it will not impact your iPhoto library assuming the originals remain in the library.