iPhoto Library Sharing

Sharing a networked iPhoto (currently ’09, v8.x) library can provide access for multiple users. There are a number of ways to approach this, but I’ll focus on using an AirPort Extreme, shared network volume (hard drive).

Required hardware:

Installing and setting up your AirPort Extreme is dependent on your local network. Apple provides a couple of manuals to help:

It’s generally a good idea to re-partition and re-format any new hard drive to be more compatible with your Mac. Refer to Formatting your hard drive: in Time Machine Backup Trouble.

Because the AirPort Extreme provides Wi-Fi access, you may be tempted to use the shared library wirelessly. In my opinion, the data transfer rates are too slow for this to work.

Mounting your network volume.

If you’ve enabled Guest access to your network drive (read & write) a password isn’t required. This may be a security risk if you have sensitive files stored on the network drive.

Storing iPhoto libraries on the network drive.

Defining terms:

For the purpose of this tutorial, I assume that all iPhoto Libraries are Managed.

If your library is managed by iPhoto, then it may be copied to the network drive without problem.

Referenced libraries develop serious problems when the photos are moved. It’s entirely possible that upon moving the iPhoto Library file, it will retain its connection to the photos – as long as the photo storage remains available to the Finder. However, if the photo storage is moved, iPhoto’s references to those photos may be broken.

Managing iPhoto libraries on the network drive.

To open your iPhoto library after it’s moved to the network drive:

If the library list contains your library, just select it and click Choose.

To create a new iPhoto library:


When launching iPhoto, holding the Option key will allow the desired library to be selected.

Any particular library may be access my just one user at a time.

The iPhoto applications used to access your shared library, must be the same version.

For extensive library management, you may find iPhoto Library Manager ($20) to be useful. A free alternative is iPhoto Buddy.

An alternative to network storage is to simply store your iPhoto Library on an external hard drive. This drive can be moved to a different computer and the library accessed as outlined above.

Keep in mind that data transfers are much slower using Ethernet as compared to usb or FireWire.

January 26, 2010 • Tags: , , • Posted in: How To, Software, Utility

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