Better Photos ideas

January 16, 2023

The continuing story of my bad photo management choices started here.

You kow what? Moving my Photos library off of my NAS was a great idea.

Imagine that, exactly what everyone has been saying turned out to be the right thing.

I rarely buy external storage, and I think this is the first external SSD I have ever purchased. I realized this when I plugged it in (while still marvelling at the diminutive size) and got no audible feedback whatsoever. No whirrs, no buzzes, no clicks, nothing. Just space and speed.

Formatting the drive was uneventful, if slightly confusing. I figured I should go as modern and Apple mainstream as possible now that I was moving away from strange photo library solutions, and so wanted to go with APFS as the file system. The one little surprise was when I fired up Disk utility, went to format and did not see APFS as an option. Some quick research revealed that you need to select GUID partition map to be able to select APFS as your file system. Another quick reformat and I was ready to bring over my library.

At first I happily mounted my disk image from the NAS and dragged the library folder over, before staring at the transfer dialog and realizing just copying the disk image as a single file would be a lot faster than waiting for all the individual files to be handled (the library looks like a single file, but is actually a folder, just like app bundles).

I have regular doubts about my network performance, but for once I was totally happy as the three hundred gigabytes or so came steaming down to the SSD at a nice and steady clip. In well under an hour, I had the disk image copied over and mounted.

I then tried to drag the photo library from the disk image to the drive. No use for the extra step of the image any more. This, for some reason, turned out to be an impossible task. The copying was about as slow as the move across the network, but it decided to fail after about a quarter had finished, producing an error about the file already existing.

I will dig into that problem at some point, but I decided I was more interested in trying to open the library itself first. My last few attempts over the network had all ended in various error messages, so I was expecting repairs at the very least, and at worst possibly needing to create a new library and copy photos manually.

I held by breath and double-clicked the library.


Photos opened in the blink of an eye, and everything was just there, no repairs needed.

Scrolling was like butter.

So this is the photo management experience I could have had all the time?

Several times, I have got distraced and just sat scrolling through my library for a while. It is just so nice.

Steps left

First and foremost: get off the disk image - clues, anyone? Is it expected that dragging a library from a disk image to the disk can run into this kind of problem, and is there a known way around it? I need to do some more research here.

Second: set up a new backup solution. My current one is basically based on everything I backup being on my NAS, and I think I still want everything to end up there in one way or another. I just need to figure out how I want the photos to get there now. Preferably without me needing to remember to click buttons and drag files every now and then. My first idea here is to see what the excellent Superduper can do for me, since I already have it set up and at hand for other backup tasks.

Third: enjoy my photos. Even in this rather silly situation of an extra disk image and possible manual backups, everything is just so much better than it was before. I am rediscovering old photos, naming faces, getting memories created, all that great stuff.

Scrolls like butter.