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.

Here we will show you how to quickly locate and manage your photos on Mac.

Contents: Part 1. Why Can't I See Photos in Finder on Mac?Part 2. Where Are the Photos Files Stored on Mac?Part 3. Bonus Tips: How to Use the Photos App to Import Photos to Mac Let's Wrap It up

Part 1. Why Can't I See Photos in Finder on Mac?

Before knowing where are photos stored on Mac, you may also want to know how to store your photos. Your photos can be stored on your Mac or on iCloud. Generally, photos can take up disk space, especially if you have a lot. Since photos have been synced to iCloud, the original photos are purgeable files and can be removed from Mac to save space.

If you can't see your photos in Finder on your Mac, several factors could be causing this issue. Here are some potential reasons and solutions:

  1. Photos Are Stored in the Photos App:

    • If you use the Photos app to manage your pictures, they are stored in the Photos library rather than as individual files in Finder. To access these photos, open the Photos app. If you need to access specific photos in Finder, you can export them from the Photos app by selecting the photos and choosing File > Export.
  2. iCloud Photos:

    • If you have iCloud Photos enabled, your photos might be stored in iCloud and not downloaded to your Mac. Ensure that you have enabled the "Download Originals to this Mac" option in System Preferences > Apple ID > iCloud > Photos.
  3. Hidden Files:

    • It's possible that some photo files are hidden. To check if hidden files are the issue, you can press Command + Shift + . in Finder to show hidden files.
  4. Incorrect Finder View Settings:

    • Ensure that your Finder view settings are set to show the type of files you are looking for. For example, if you are in a folder that should contain photos but have a filter applied that excludes image files, they won't appear.
  5. Photos in Different Locations:

    • Your photos might be stored in different folders or on external drives. Check your usual photo storage locations, such as Pictures or other folders where you might have saved them.
  6. Search Function:

    • Use Finder's search function to locate your photos. Open Finder and type common photo file extensions like .jpg, .png, or .heic into the search bar.
  7. Library Corruption:

    • If there's an issue with the Photos library or other photo management software, your photos might not be accessible. You might need to repair the Photos library by opening the Photos app while holding down the Option and Command keys, then selecting "Repair".
  8. Permissions Issues:

    • There might be a permissions issue preventing Finder from accessing certain folders. Check and adjust permissions in System Preferences > Security & Privacy > Privacy and ensure Finder has the necessary access.

By checking these potential issues and solutions, you should be able to locate and view your photos in Finder on your Mac.

How to Store Photos on Mac

Part 2. Where Are the Photos Files Stored on Mac?

Can't find photos on Mac? Where are pictures stored on Mac? The photo files usually are stored in this location in the macOS:

~/Pictures/Photos Library.photoslibrary/resources/derivatives/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.

Where are Photos Stored on Mac

How to Access the Location Where Photos Files are Stored?

How to view photos in a folder on Mac? 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:

  1. Open Finder and proceed to the home directory
  2. Open the “Pictures” folder
  3. Search for the file labeled as “Photos Library photoslibrary”
  4. Right-click or Control+Click on the “Photos Library photoslibrary” and tap on the “Show Package Contents” option
  5. Access the folder labeled “Masters” to find the image files included within the Photos app

How to Access the Location Where Photos Files Are Stored

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.

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.

What to Do When Pictures Folder on Mac Missing?

If you have updated your Mac version to El Capitan or higher, the picture folder will disappear, then it's hard for you to find your photos.

In this case, you might need an effective tool called PowerMyMac to help you quickly locate all the photos and clean them out if you don't need them anymore. You can have a free try this software to see if it can solve your problems.

Get PowerMyMac Free TrialGet A Free Trial Now!

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 can also use the "Similar Image Finder" and "Duplicate Finder" tools in PowerMyMac to clean up unnecessary files like similar or duplicate photos after locating them.

Find and Delete Duplicate Photos on Mac

Part 3. Bonus Tips: How to Use the Photos App to Import Photos to Mac

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. Follow the ways below and you will also know where are imported photos stored on Mac more clearly.

#1. Import photos from an iPhone or digital camera

  1. 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”.
  2. In case the Photo app does not automatically open, access the app on your Mac.
  3. 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”.
  4. At this point, you can choose either to “Import All New Items” or choose a batch and click on “Import Selected”.

#2. Upload photos 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:

  1. Move the files from the drive into the Photos window
  2. Drag files from the drive onto the Photos icon that you can find in the Dock
  3. 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.

Let's Wrap It up

With the options stated above, you now know where are photos stored on Mac and 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.