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John T. F.
John T. F., Mac Druid
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Experience:  20+ years in the computer/Mac industry
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Help! Due to having some photos disappear from my library

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Help! Due to having some photos disappear from my library when I was ordering prints via the iphoto app, I decided to restore my iphoto library with Time Machine. This was about a week or two ago. Time Machine proceeded to extract 100% of my photos from said iphoto library, and now I can't retrieve them. I believe it told me I do not have access to the information, or some such thing.

But not to worry, I had another back-up to my back-up via Connected Back-up/Autonomy. Tragically, it turns out their system does NOT automatically back up my iphoto library, so I have lost all of my digital photos taken over the last 11 years. I am heartbroken and need some help. Is there anyone out there who can help me??
Hello! My name isXXXXX will work diligently to provide accurate advice and information.

Did you restore your iPhoto Library from within iPhoto or from the Finder?

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Honestly, I'm not sure. I opened T

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Hi John,


Honestly I'm not sure. This the very first time I'd used Time machine so I'm not familiar with it at all. I opened the Time Machine App, selected the iphoto library to restore from that app, and then it extracted all of my photos from the iphoto library and then said me I did not have access to the information.


Can you tell me what version of OS X you are currently running?

Click the Apple Logo in the menubar at the top of the screen

Select "About This Mac"

In the window that opens, look for the "Version" information. Please let me know what it says.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

OS 10.7.5

Ok, let's try the following.

Shutdown your Mac.

Restart and, as soon as you hear the startup chime, hold COMMAND + R keys until you see the Apple logo and progress indicator (Alternative: press the “OPTION” key at boot and select the “Recovery HD" option in the menu).

Wait for “OS X Utilities” menu to appear (DO NOT CHOOSE TO INSTALL)

Choose Disk Utility from the available options.

In Disk Utility, select your normal, bootable hard drive volume from the list in the sidebar (usually "Macintosh HD").

Then, Click "Repair Disk"

If it finds errors, repeat the process until it reports the drive is OK.

Next, click "Repair Disk Permissions"

Then, restart your Mac and it should boot back into your normal Desktop.

Once you are back at your desktop.

Click "Go" in the Finder's menu bar at the very top of your screen and choose "Home".

In the new window that opens, double-click the Pictures folder to open it.

Locate your iPhoto Library and select it. (do NOT double-click it, just single click to highlight the file).

Now enter Time Machine and navigate to a time before you began having issues.

Then click Restore.

If you continue to have questions on this topic, just reply back to this discussion. I will be more than happy to work with you further. Hopefully, this info will answer your question. If so please, please remember that when you are asked to give a rating, you are rating my personal service only and not this website itself or your issue.

Thanks and good luck,
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Everything worked up until I got to Time machine - and it only takes me as far back to April 17 for some reason. Additionally, after I exited the finder app I tried to open my library again just to see what it was telling me.


It says that the library is 4.49G, but it also says this on the window bar:


iPhoto Library - bash - 80x24


Here is the what the window itself said - looks like some sort of shell script - text only:


Last login: Mon Apr 22 12:48:22 on ttys000
Macintosh-4:iPhoto LibraryCustomer



Says it was last modified April 1, 2013, which is when this event occured.


Did you get this terminal window by double clicking the iPhoto library file itself?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Yes. It was after I tried to go to time machine and saw that it woudl not take me past April 17.

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Yes. It was after I tried to go to time machine and saw that it would not take me past April 17.

Thanks and what message do you get when trying to start iPhoto directly?

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

No message - it starts up just fine - just no photos in my library.


Quit iPhoto.

Hold down the Option key as you start iPhoto.

See if you can select your iPhoto Library from the list.

Click Choose.

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

It doesn't even list it as a library - it's as if the entire thing was wiped out when I tried to restore it.

If that doesn't work, you should next try rebuilding your iPhoto Library with the “iPhoto Library Manager“ available from here:

You shouldn’t need to buy it, just use the trial version.

Instructions on using this utility to rebuild your iPhoto Library can be found here:
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

So I loaded the software and it can't find an iPhoto library at all. That seems to be the ongoing problem, and it seems it was caused by Timeline extracting the library when I attempted to restore it to an earlier date, and then it told me it couldn't access my back-up data. Theoretically I could create a new library, I suppose, and then try to restore it from Timeline, again, however, since my Timeline only lets me go back to April 17, it won't work that way - I would need to go back further. I feel like the key to this whole problem is in timeline, not iPhoto. Since I can't get back to an early enough date I can't retrieve my photos.

Let's try this;

Open your external hard drive that is used for Time Machine.

Locate a folder called Backups.backupd and open it.

You should see a folder named after your computer. Open that next.

You should see a bunch of folders that are named after the date of backup. Do you see any from prior to April 17?

Customer: replied 3 years ago.



Was there only a single folder for your computer?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

I only back up certain things on my external hard drive and it has several folders on it. I can't see the iPhoto Library anywhere anymore. I back up the entire system including all its settings with an offsite company.

But you have no folders for anything prior to April 17 on Time Machine, correct?

On the offsite backup do you back up your Pictures folder?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Correct - nothing prior to April 17, for some reason. And no, on my offsite backup I was informed that the system does not automatically back up the iPhoto library unless a special setting is applied, about which in I am still waiting for them to get back to me to get so I can move forward with that magic setting. When I employed the system in the first place they did not tell me that I need to do anything special - they just told me that it would automatically back up 100% of my files, settings, etc. I am really quite angry about that but can't really do anything about it.


It kind of looks like I'm hosed, yes?


Okay, I would really recommend if possible that you let Time Machine do a complete back up in the future as it can have a complete boot-ready restore available if it's allowed to do so.

Locate the iPhoto Library in your Pictures folder once again.

Control-Click or Right-click on the file and choose Show Package Contents.

You should see a "Masters" folder, or an Originals folder, inside.

Drag the Masters folder to your Desktop. This folder should contain all your photos organized by date. Verify that the pictures are there.

If so, move the iPhoto Library to the trash (only after Masters has been copied/moved to the Desktop!).

Start iPhoto.

It should create a new iPhoto Library.

Once created, you can drag the photos from Masters back into iPhoto.

This may be a tedious project but it should restore the photos to iPhoto.

you will loose custom events and albums, however.

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

You may recall that I cannot find an iPhoto folder at all on my hard drive or my external hard drive. So I'm not sure what to do with these instructions. I did look again to see if I could find a folder, but no such luck.

You indicated earlier that you had an iPhoto Libray file that was 4.49gb in your pictures folder vim aware that double clicking it opens terminal but the size indicates your photos should still be there.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

I realize that but if it doesn't show up anywhere as a file I can click on how can I access it? When I right-click on it does give me any options...


How are you determining the size?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

I just tried it again and now I can see a "previews" folder. When I look in it it appears to have most of my photos! Let me continue the process and see what I end up with.



Okay, looks like you may be getting somewhere. However, the Previews folder likely does NOT have your full size photos in it. Do you see any other folders inside the "iPhoto Library" file?

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Nope that's it, and they do not appear to be full size. And that is definitely the only folder.

Go back to your pictures folder, Control-click or right-click on the "iPhoto Library" file and choose "Get Info". What does it list for the size?

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

It says 4.62 GB.


This is very curious. If you open it once more as you did previously and do a Get Info on the Previews folder, does it list a similar size?

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Yes, it does.

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

And, I just checked the size of one of the photos - it was 765.61K

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

I apologize - the previews folder says 0. I was looking at the Previews folder on my desktop.

Did you previously move the Previews folder to your desktop? If so, is the Previews folder inside iPhoto Library empty now?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Given you have no valid backups from which to restore, and your iPhoto Library file is severely damaged, then I'm afraid the Previews folder is all you are going to have left to build from in this case.

Verify you still have the Previews folder on your Desktop.

Then, move the damaged iPhoto Library to the trash.

Start iPhoto.

It should create a new iPhoto Library.

Once created, you can drag the photos from Previews folder back into iPhoto.

This may be a tedious project but it should restore the photos to iPhoto, minus any custom events or albums.

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