Reclaiming hard disk space from iPhoto…

A very quick microtip that I’ve just discovered since buying my new camera. When I’m taking pictures, I have the camera set to take a number of photos in a row. I do this particularly when there are low light conditions as then hopefully you can grab one shot where someone isn’t moving or your hands aren’t shaking too much from the DTs. The result of this is that when I open up iPhoto I get ten or fifteen versions of any particular shot, most of which are almost identical. I sort through them by hand, comparing them as appropriate and deleting those that are blurry or too dark to use.

However, I have just discovered that deleting something from the Library in iPhoto isn’t like deleting something from the rest of your system or even like deleting songs from iTunes. If you delete a photo it doesn’t get removed when you empty your main trash, nor does it prompt you about whether or not to delete the original file sitting on your computer anywhere. In fact, if iPhoto is keeping your originals, it will even keep a copy of photos you’ve deleted, clogging up your hard disk, pretty much in perpetuity.

The only way to get rid of the originals of photos you’ve deleted (which in my case can be ten or more two to four megabyte files for each photo I actually keep) is to explicitly use iPhotos inbuilt ‘Empty Trash’ feature, concealed nicely under the main iPhoto menu. This is a completely non-standard feature and nicely concealed. As a result it’s almost totally undiscoverable and means that if you’ve used iPhoto for a while you may very well be building up a completely unnecessary clog of large files. In my case when I finally found this feature, iPhoto asked me whether or not I wanted to delete over two thousand items taking up around eight to ten gigabytes of hard disk space. Needless to say, yes.

11 replies on “Reclaiming hard disk space from iPhoto…”

You might want to check out the freeware app iPhoto Diet, which goes a few steps further, removing duplicates, un-rotated backups of rotated photos, etc. I reclaimed about a gig and a half when I tried it; if you’re a fairly heavy iPhoto user then you might see even more of a gain.

Never knew either one. You learn a thing, or two, everyday. Thanks a bunch. A really non tech gal.

I do a similar thing in low-light (the pleasures of mighty big memory cards) so this has also freed up a couple of gigs of space, which on a Macbook is a lot.

I avoided iPhoto for a long time specifically to avoid the bloat I observed from using it. This hint — and the pointer to iPhoto diet above — may bring me back to it. Thanks!

Hmmm… My iPhoto has a trash can on the left sidebar. This makes it more like Apple Mail. You either go to that and decide to empty the trash or browse through the program’s menus.

All of iLife has this weird, mostly unknown behavior – iMovie does the same thing with clips, and iDVD with gigs of converted video files, which can be some magnitudes of order worse than photos! I feel as if there should be an option (at least) if you want to use application-specific trashes or the one system-wide trash.

wow I thought iphoto was the problem when I was told by my lovely mac that my scratch disks were full.. thus I searched for an answer, found you, and have retrieved 67GB of space! how I let it get to this I don’t know! – So, anyway, thank you 🙂

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