Pictures are the memories that you want to keep safe forever. While storing your precious pictures in the cloud is good, you might also want to have the peace of mind of having your pictures stored locally. Luckily, it is an easy process to back up your Mac’s photos to an external drive. In this guide, it is assumed that the pictures are the actual photos from the ‘photos’ app in the Mac, the default app if you have used iCloud photo stream or directly imported from your iPhone. If all your photos are just in a folder on your Mac, all you are required to do is to plug in your external drive and move them over directly. If you are using a different app that uses another library, you will be required to perform the configuration for that app.
To know how this works, it is important to know how exactly the photos app files work. It is actually quite straightforward and simple. There exists a single file that contains the entirety of the photo library. If you are looking to back this library up, you are required to plug your external storage drive in and drag the file folder over to that external drive in the sidebar of the finder.
This was the easier part. The harder part comes when you are required to change which photo library you wish to use. You are then required to change the location from which the photos app is reading. While you can open the library just by double-clicking on it, it is advised to use ‘photos’ app to be used by default. You can always switch back to the regular library if need be. Double click on the backup library to access it, then click on preferences for photos from Photos folder. Click on the ‘use as the system’s photo library’ which will switch the new library as the default.
Backing up files manually may require a lot of time and involve a lot of hassle, it is always better and advised to back up your photos automatically, so you free yourself from the burden of doing it manually. Apple’s built-in time machine app marks as the best tool to back up automatically to an external drive.
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