If you are using a Mac, the Photos app is responsible for managing all images inside the application such as photos transferred from your iPhone or memory card as well as those that were imported. For the curious ones, you might be wondering where are photos stored on Mac.

Remember that this is specific to the Photos app. In case you do not use the app to manage your photos on your Mac, the photos are not stored inside the applications package library but you can easily find them using Finder in the generic Pictures folder or somewhere else in the Mac system.

Tips:

A close look on Photos on Mac

The Photos app is a convenient tool that stores all your photos and videos. All photos taken are stored in it and even organized. When you open the app, you can find all your photos and reminisce on all the memories that you have collected.

Are Photos and iPhoto the same?

Photos have been considered as the ideal tool in photo management for Mac users. Before Photos took the stage, Apple created 2 applications for managing photos and videos. iPhoto, specifically, is ideally for those who have less experience in photography while Aperture was the preferred choice for those who want to indulge in editing. With the availability of the Photos app, it blurs the line between these two apps where it combines the best of the two along with the addition of new features such as iCloud Photo Library and the iCloud Photo Sharing.
Where Are Photos Stored On Mac Where

For those who have used iPhoto before, it will be a breeze to use the Photos app. All photos, albums, and collections are found in the main window with a navigation sidebar on the left side and you can choose different viewing options at the top part of the interface.

The main difference between iPhoto and the Photos app is its performance. If you have big libraries, iPhoto tends to choke up or lag and it had arbitrary limitations that would restrain the sizes on the albums and collections. It is a different case with the Photos app since these limitations are gone and capable of handling larger libraries. Although the general interface of the Photos apps might be the same, it is relatively faster and a powerful tool that its predecessor.

How to store photos on Mac

Your photos can be stored on your Mac or on iCloud. The initial step to make is to ensure that your photos are on your Mac. Generally, photos can take up disk space, especially if you have a lot.

Simply open the Photos app and click on “Preferences” and choose the iCloud tab. If you want to store your photos in iCloud, you must select the option to “Download Originals to this Mac”. This will ensure that all your photos are on the disk and the next task for you is to find them.

Where are the photos stored on Mac OS?

The photo files are stored in this location in the Mac OS:

~/Pictures/Photos Library.photoslibrary/Masters/

It is important to note that the ~ tilde indicates the users home directory, if you are going to utilize the “Go To Folder” command to move through that directory, do not skip the ~ prefix.

This essentially focuses on the local image files and not anything stored inside iCloud. For files on iCloud, you can access them through iCloud Photo Library or the Photos app.

How to access the location where photos files are stored

In case you decide to manually navigate to the file location of Photos using the Finder to find where are photos stored on Mac, there are steps that you should follow:

  • Open Finder and proceed to the home directory
  • Open the “Pictures” folder
  • Search for the file labeled as “Photos Library photoslibrary”
  • Right-click or Control+Click on the “Photos Library photoslibrary” and tap on the “Show Package Contents” option
  • Access the folder labeled “Masters” to find the image files included within the Photos app
Where Are Photos Stored On Mac

Generally, the “Masters” folder includes directories of photos that are categorized based on the date in day, month or year subfolders. In every folder, you will find the image files from each specific date.

Remember that if you delete a photo from the “Masters” directory, you can no longer access it in the Photos app. It is recommended to copy a file from the directory if you want to edit one. Furthermore, this package folder is not aimed to be easily accessed which is the reason why it is concealed. However, you can browse directly through your files if you want.

Another option if you want to find the original file from Photos apps is to utilize the “Show Referenced” option. This will access a Finder window that holds a file that was selected from Photos. Some Mac users will notice that the images in the Photos app are designated in the same package style containment as with other common Mac apps and in the same parent directory where you will find the iPhoto images and the Photo Booth files.

Quick suggestion

In case you only require the “Master” files to copy a few photos, simply move them out of Photos directly to the desktop. This action will create duplicates of your photos and will not move or delete the original files.

Do not forget to find and delete all the copies that you acquired later to prevent the files from taking up disk space on your Mac. In such cases, you might need an effective tool such as the Similar Photo tool in PowerMyMac to clean up unnecessary files.

Bonus: How to use the Photos app

If this is your first time to use the Photos app, it will provide you with an overview of how your library looks like with all your photos and videos imported. You will get a quick introduction to some of the features and tools as well as learn how to create concrete memories with the help of printable objects such as photo books, calendars and more.

After finishing the tour of the app and you have gone through the initial configuration, you are ready to import your photos and videos.

Importing photos to Mac

You can utilize several ways to import your media content to the Photos app which is based on where you have been storing the files.

1. From an iPhone or digital camera

  • Link your iPhone or camera to your Mac using a USB cable. There is a need to unlock your iPhone using your password and then click on “Trust” when asked to “Trust This Computer”.
  • In case the Photo app does not automatically open, access the app on your Mac.
  • Once the Photos app launches, it will provide you with the “Import” screen that has all the photos and videos on your iPhone or camera. In case you cannot see the “Import” screen, simply tap on your iPhone or camera in the Photos sidebar beneath the “Devices”.
  • At this point, you can choose either to “Import All New Items” or choose a batch and click on “Import Selected”.
Where Are Photos Stored On Mac Mac

2. From a folder or external hard drive in Finder

If these are the sources, you have several options to choose from. In case your photos and videos are stored in an external hard drive, you must make sure that it is linked first. You can proceed with one of the following:

  • Move the files from the drive into the Photos window
  • Drag files from the drive onto the Photos icon that you can find in the Dock
  • In the Photos app, proceed to File > Import from the menu bar. Select the photos or videos that you want to import and tap on “Review” for Import

Remember that the Photos app copies the photos and videos into the Photos Library. The original file is left either on your device or in its folder.

Quick tip

If you have been wondering where are photos stored on Mac – you now have the answer. The next task is to ensure that you do not have any duplicates since they can take up space. Since the Photos app will not remove the original photos after the importing process, you might end up with duplicate photos that can eat up precious disk space on your Mac. Those who have taken several photos of the same subject from slightly different angles will end up with more space being used up.

The ideal way to keep your photo collection in check is to scan your Mac for duplicates every now and then. By using the Similar Photo tool in iMyMac PowerMyMac, you can scan your device for any similar photos that you can effortlessly remove to free up space.

iMyMac PowerMyMac is an all-around tool with a variety of functions to optimize your Mac. If you want to ensure that there are no duplicate photos that can eat up disk space, you need to use the Similar Photo tool in the Cleaner module of PowerMyMac. This tool is an ideal photo manager that can help find and remove duplicate photos on your Mac. It functions in the same manner as the Duplicate Finder tool, but it specializes in finding similar photos.

Let us take a close look at the steps.

  • Tap on the Cleaner module in PowerMyMac and select the Similar Photo tool.
  • Tap on the “Scan” button on the interface. This will start to recognize and detect similar photos on your device.
  • Once the scanning is complete, you are provided with a preview of the similar photos on the left side. On the right, tap on the photos and preview.
  • Select similar photos to remove.
  • Tap on the “Clean” button on the bottom right corner to get rid of the similar photos.
  • At this point, tap on “Confirm” to remove the similar photos that you have chosen. The cleaning time is based on the size of similar photos.
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Let's wrap it up

With the options stated above, you can easily locate your photos on your Mac. Just make sure that once you locate your photos, you do not have any duplicates. Remember that these duplicates or similar photos can take up precious disk space on your Mac.