Trouble with iPhoto

by Volker Weber

There is a lot of speculation about what Apple might be announcing tonight. I don't want to join in. But I sure hope that Apple does something about iPhoto. Ever since I got the D70, iPhoto has become unusable. It takes minutes to load and bogs the whole system down. I don't know what it is. It may be the size of the photos, it may be the auto-rotation of portrait formats. When I delete the Thumb*data files from the iPhoto Library directory, things improve:

-rw-r--r--    1 vowe  vowe    2397857 Sep 14 20:09 AlbumData.xml
-rw-r--r--    1 vowe  vowe      16929 Oct  3 02:08
-rw-r--r--    1 vowe  vowe    1159240 Dec 26  2003
-rw-r--r--    1 vowe  vowe  105951994 Oct  3 02:08 Library.iPhoto
-rw-r--r--    1 vowe  vowe   12038144 Oct  3 02:03
-rw-r--r--    1 vowe  vowe   47992832 Oct  3 02:03
-rw-r--r--    1 vowe  vowe   24023040 Oct  3 02:03

But it is again going downhill from there. Does anyone have a clue what is wrong? Also: How can you join iPhoto libraries?

Update: Thanks to Ole, who spotted the root cause for the problem, I have a workaround. iPhoto keeps a copy of the EXIF header for each and every photo inside the Library.iPhoto file. A number of cameras, amongst them the D70, have a very large Maker Note inside the EXIF header.

I exported the photos of my 2005 library, removed the Maker Notes with exifcleaner and then reimported into a new library. This one now loads in seconds instead of minutes. The library file went from 100 meg to 5.

-rw-r--r--    1 vowe  vowe   5645068 Oct 20 03:34 Library.iPhoto

From now on I will have to cleanse the photos before importing them into iPhoto. Let's hope that Apple does something about this problem.


Have you tried this yet ?

iPhotodiet - it slims down your iphoto database and deletes duplicates.

Alex Boschmans, 2005-10-19

I recommend to stay away from iPhoto, especially if you have to manage 20k+ of 6 megapixel photographs.

What I do - mainly to be not locked-in by any vendor - is running a script that imports into a directory hierarchy that is structured by date. I.e. the structure for the Weizenbaum pictures looks like this: Pictures/2005/10/20051018weizenbaum. Normalization of JPEG data is done on the fly, including lossless rotation corresponding to the camera's orientation sensor record.

The directory layout lets me do a filename search with find(1). For project work I create a text file called TAGS.txt in the corresponding directory which holds keywords. Furthermore there might be a "blue print" LICENSE.txt with redistribution info and a README.txt, TODO.txt and a handful of special purpose stuff. Essentially this leads to full on-line retrieval functionality without any special software than the standard UNIX command line tools.

The bottom line is, that I can use ANY software for viewing/sorting/managing pictures. The only requirement for the sfotware used is that it does not modify the existing directory structure. iPhoto does somehow not fit into this picture, as you can clearly see, but it's a toy anyway...


Karsten W. Rohrbach, 2005-10-19

Volker, for merging iPhoto Libraries, you can use iPhoto Library Manager. Google for that name and you'll find it easily. Works for me to keep two Macs with iPhoto libraries in sync. It remains a manual task, but not as daunting as manually importing all photos.

Pascal Frencken, 2005-10-19

Halt mal Alt-Apfel beim Start von iPhoto fest... Vielleicht kannst Du auf die Art und Weise ja noch ein paar % schneller werden.

Ole Saalmann, 2005-10-19

You got me thinking, googling actually:

The large MakerNote EXIF entry the D70 produces seems to be the problem. Will check this with my D70 pictures tomorrow (or maybe not after tonights event).

Ole Saalmann, 2005-10-19

I do not know your exact needs for photo storage/organization, but the preferred Mac solution among prolific photographers I am acquainted with, is Shoebox:

Garret P. Vreeland, 2005-10-19

Garret, iPhoto suits my needs perfectly. A simple folder structure, a quick preview of all images and a photo editor that fits my needs (and capabilities). I think the link that Ole came up with nailed it. I checked the library sizes of my older iPhoto libs and they are way smaller than the this year's. It appears it is indeed the size of the EXIF makernote.

Volker Weber, 2005-10-19

Weird - I didn't even know they were making any announcments today, since they just did a big rollout last week with the video iPod.

As for iPhoto - no update to that that I see, but they did announce a new product called Aperture. No product info on the Apple site, but there is this article that covers the new stuff.

Greg Walrath, 2005-10-19

iPhoto seems to be pretty buggy since tiger, my wife experienced two crashes, while working on an album. and since there is iPhoto has no save or autosave: over 3 hours of sorting and positioning photos for nothing.

slightly out of topic, but still apple software:
there is something i have heard today:
there is (probably) an adware component in the new iTunes (windows version). it sends logs of ones dns requests to apple. im researching on this one.

Marius Kubatz, 2005-10-19

Aperture info here:


Ben Poole, 2005-10-19

OK, here we go - more info on Aperture. $500, though.

Greg Walrath, 2005-10-19

iPhoto v5 is anything but a toy. It is capable of managing tens of thousands of photographs, and with a core video capable card is excellent for full-frame corrections (but you'll want another tool for spot touch-ups). And it is very serviceable on old G3 models. If it doesn't fulfil your needs you probably earn your living doing this and need Aperature.

Volker, you didn't mention whether you are shooting RAW or not.

David Richardson, 2005-10-19

David, so iPhoto is anything but a toy. You're able to manage tens of thousands of photographs with it. But what if you got hundreds of thousands and you do not want to manage them but you must manage them? You get the point.

Karsten W. Rohrbach, 2005-10-20

Old archive pages

I explain difficult concepts in simple ways. For free, and for money. Clue procurement and bullshit detection.


Paypal vowe