not definedScreenshot: David MurphyTech 911Tech 911Do you have a technical question that keeps you up at night? We’d love to answer! Email with “Tech 911” in the subject.

You are doing everything right, but the disaster still strikes. This is the world of troubleshooting a finicky PC, such as when a command prompt says that your computer is being repaired, but somehow the situation is made worse.

At least this is where Lifehacker reads Joanne is found today. She recently wrote to Tech 911 with the following question:

This is a long shot, but a last resort after 19 days of everything I can think of.

I had 31,700 photos and 1,100 videos in my iMac photo library. When I found out there were some duplicates that I downloaded as Photosweeper, the process was just starting when the photo library crashed. When I reopened the library, I was asked to recreate the library, which I did. Now there are only 3409 photos !!!!

I can’t seem to find a master, but I have an original file that only contains photos until 2016 when I last changed my Mac.

I tried using a Finder Spotlight that had more than 80,000 images. When I try to copy my Mac, it keeps restarting due to an error.

I thought I last backed up my photos to a USB drive in February 2020, but when I try to open the Photos 2020 file, it gets an error.

I am the mother of 4 children and most of the pictures are from my children. I’m pretty desperate to get my library back. Can you help or advise us?

Illustration for article titled How do I fix a broken photo library in macOS?

When recovery does not recover

I’m sorry you’ve been dealing with this, Joanne. This must have been a three week bout of anxiety for you. At least that’s how I would have felt if I suddenly lost more than 27,000 photos. I have never experienced this on my Mac until now, but also all of my photos are transferred straight to the cloud to live on someone else’s servers as I don’t trust a hard drive or operating system to get my data.

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I’m not saying this to scold you, but to remind everyone that backing up your critical data (especially photos that you can’t lose) on a regular basis should be an integral part of your digital life. When in doubt, just remember: save your files in as many places as possible as it never hurts to have multiple backups.

In general, I would recommend sticking to three locations: your computer, a cloud service, and some type of external storage that you control, e.g. B. a USB hard drive. You don’t have to back up your files to all of these places at once – maybe you sync your PC’s photo folder with the cloud, or just put every photo you take from your device or PC to cloud storage. Copying your photo library from your PC to external storage may be a bit more economical in case you ever need to restore an older file, but not worry about losing anything on your cloud storage.

Illustration for article titled How do I fix a broken photo library in macOS?

Speaking of backups, if you find yourself in a tough spot with your Mac again, the first thing you should do is make a full, direct copy of your photo library to another location (be it in a different folder on your PC or in another external storage) . That way, in case your troubleshooting made the situation worse, you can go back to when the problem started.

While it seems like your troubleshooting made the situation worse, in my opinion you still have a few options that you can try to recover your photos. Did you check first iCloud? That sounds easy, but if you’ve backed up your photos from your Mac to Apple’s online storage (ideally automatically), everything may still be in your photo library.

But before we do anything else, let’s back up your existing photo library. On the macOS desktop, click Walk in your menu bar and select At home. Pull your images Folder and copy your photo library somewhere else – ideally external storage, but copying it to your desktop should be sufficient (if you have space).

From there, it’s time to examine those iCloud photos. Assuming your library is securely stored in the cloud, you can download them all manually (ugh) or try syncing them with your Mac again. Launch your photos app and click Photos> Settings. Click on iCloudand make sure “Download Originals on This Mac” is selected.

Illustration for article titled How do I fix a broken photo library in macOS?Screenshot: David Murphy

In fact, it might be better to create a brand new photo library instead, just in case. Instead of just starting photoshold the possibility Button when clicking the photos Symbol. You will get a prompt that looks like this, which will allow you to create a brand new library:

not definedScreenshot: David Murphy

Once you do that, go to photos > Settings, click on “Use as system photo library” under the General Tab, and you should then be able to use that iCloud Link to download the originals.

If your pictures aren’t in iCloud, we’ll try something else. Assuming you’ve backed up your photo library, go to the location of the original library in yours images Folder and ctrl click on it. Click on Show package contentsand click on the Resources folder. Delete the Restoration Folder that should be availableClose the Finder window and restart the Photos app. Hopefully you either get a brand new recovery process that works, magically display your photos, or there is something useful in that folder.

If not, I would go back to the idea of ​​creating a new photo library that I suggested earlier. When you’ve made these settings and you’re in the Photos app, go back to your original photo library and do the same “Show package contents” Step as before. This time, try dragging your entire Originals folder into the Photos app. This should copy all of your old photos back into your new library.

Illustration for article titled How do I fix a broken photo library in macOS?

Likewise, I’m not sure what you tried with your backup, but you should consider the “View Package Contents” route to see if you have any more files in your backup Originals Folder. If it doesn’t, copy this file to your photos folder and launch it photos while holding down the button possibility Press the key and use the Other Library command to select this photo library.

Regardless, all of your photos need to be in one of these three places – in your existing library, in your backup, or securely in iCloud (or iClouds) “Recently deleted” Folder). That, or they may be in Photos’ “Trash (Photosweeper)“Album, if that exists. You may want to restart the app (after you’ve done all of the backups of your photo library) and see if you can use it to restore something. I doubt it, but it’s worth a try.

Do you have a technical question that keeps you up at night? Tired of troubleshooting problems with your Windows or Mac? Are you looking for advice on apps, browser extensions, or utilities to accomplish a specific task? Let us know! Let us know in the comments below or via email