Mac Copy Photos To External Hard Drive

Connect your iOS device and establish a successful connection. Tap on 'Photos' from the toolbar on the top and select the photos you wish to export. Step 3 Export Files. Once selected, you can easily export the files on your PC after selecting a certain location. Step 4 Transfer from Mac. Connect your external hard drive with the Mac and copy.

The External Hard Drive is formatted as an APFS or MacOS Extended(Journaled) device. If you have an external hard drive that satisfies the above criteria, and you want to copy photos from your Mac to the external hard drive, then this is how you can do it. Plugin the External Hard Drive to your Mac or Macbook.

Nov 25,2020 • Filed to: Photo Transfer • Proven solutions

Photo collection has been considered as a source of keeping memories of various instances of our life, where users store a complete album of photos across a certain storage facility. As we all understand that recording and capturing memories require a camera or a certain device, we come across smartphones as a very contemporary addition to the wish-list of capturing memories.

Move files to or from an external storage device Make sure your Mac is connected to the external storage device (for example, using a USB cable or over a network). Click the Finder icon in the Dock to open a Finder window, then do one of the following to move your files. Connect an external drive to your Mac via USB, USB-C, or Thunderbolt. Option-click (and continue holding down option) when launching the Photos app on your Mac. When it asks you to choose a library, click on Create New.

Apart from capturing photos, it is quite important to maintain these files to sustain the memory of the storage drives. Thus, this article focuses on providing a detailed explanation of the available methods that would explain a user how to transfer photos from Mac to external hard drive.

Transferring Data From a Mac to PC via an External Hard Drive. Mac OS X and Windows can both read and write to disks in the FAT or ExFat format. Because Mac OS X Mountain Lion does not natively support writing to an external NTFS drive, you must erase your hard disk and format it.

Part 1. Why Should You (and Shouldn't) Transfer Photos to A Flash Drive

Flash drives are one of the most consumed storage facilities throughout the world. You would observe most people keeping their important data within flash drives, which allows them to share their data across other devices and keep a backup copy of these files to contain the situations where you either lose or have your data corrupted across a certain device. There are several advantages and disadvantages of considering a flash drive as a storage device in your photo transfer.


  • Flash Drives have enabled a portable environment where they have allowed the users to maintain the size and carry data with them without feeling any special load of it. As devices with larger storage and larger sizes require bigger containments, flash drives have brought a very extensive change in the perception.
  • Technology has evolved and has been successful in creating flash drives that have storage spaces of 2TB, under similar portable sizes.
  • The explicit system of flash drives has provided users with the ability to read and write across it countless times.
  • Flash drives are known to present compatibility across every device.
  • These storage devices have presented very reasonable prices as compared to the other storage devices.


  • As Flash drives have presented a portable feature, it has exponentially increased its chances of getting lost easily. Data can be lost easily due to the small sizes of flash drives.
  • As the flash drives are universally accessible through any device with a USB port, they can be easily corrupted due to an existing virus, malware, or other malicious programs within the existing system.
  • Even though you can rewrite data across a flash drive countless times, there is still a limit to which it can be rewritten.

Part 2. How to Transfer Photos from Mac to the External Hard Drive

If you are having a Mac and an active Photo Library across it, it can be easily transferred across an external hard drive. The major reasons for initiating such procedures is to present the fact that the device requires space for maintaining the environment of the machine and keep a high-performance protocol throughout the time.

Thus, you need to keep in mind that the transfer of photos is an important process the requires perfect execution with no data loss. When it comes to sharing data from a Mac to an external hard drive, you need to look over the detailed guide shown as follows.

Step 1 Connect the external hard drive with your Mac and format the drive. You should consider using the similar 'filesystem' format that is present on the internal hard drive.

Step 2 Once you are done with formatting the drive, you need to open up a 'Finder' window and verify the successful connection of the storage device. It can be observed across the left panel that opens up on your Mac screen.

Step 3 Search for 'Pictures' in the similar panel window. If it is not present in the panel, you need to access 'Finder's Preferences' and access 'Sidebar' from the top of the new window. In the list that you observe, check the option of 'Pictures' to add it to the panel.

Step 4 After opening 'Pictures,' right-click in the 'Photo Library' icon and tap on 'Get info' in the drop-down menu. It is to check whether the file space is enough to fit in the complete hard drive.

Step 5 Drag the folder and drop it into the storage device icon present on the 'Finder' window. It would successfully get transferred in a certain period of time.

Step 6 Once it elapses, holds the 'Options' key on your Mac and open the Photos app.

Step 7 Tap on 'Other Library' and locate the external device address. In the application, open its 'Preferences' and lead towards the 'General' settings to select the option of 'Use as System Photo Library.' Turn iCloud back on for your Photos app from the System Preferences and disconnect your hard drive to conclude.

Part 3. Tips about Transferring Photos from Mac

Apart from looking over these tools and methods, there are several techniques that can be adapted to transfer photos from Mac. One method involves using a third-party tool for such purposes. dr.fone – Phone Manager presents a perfect environment for the management of files across your Mac.

To transfer photos from your iPhone to Mac, you should consider dr.fone for the following reasons.

How To Image A Hard Drive

dr.fone - Phone Manager (iOS)

How To Move Photo Albums From Mac To External Hard Drive

Safely Transfer Photos from Mac to External Hard Drive with dr.fone

  • Allows transfer and management of media files and other data.
  • Backs up data easily on the computer and restores.
  • Transfer files among different smartphones.
  • Compatible across thousands of Android devices, all latest models of iPhone and iOS versions.

To understand its simple and efficient function, you need to look over the guide declared as follows.

Step 1Launch Platform

Download and install the platform to launch on your Mac. Once launched, select the 'Phone Manager' tool to proceed.

Step 2Connect device and Select Photos

Connect your iOS device and establish a successful connection. Tap on 'Photos' from the toolbar on the top and select the photos you wish to export.

Step 3Export Files

How To Transfer Photos To External Drive

Once selected, you can easily export the files on your PC after selecting a certain location.

Step 4 Transfer from Mac

Connect your external hard drive with the Mac and copy the folder that is saved over the location and paste it across the drive.

Another method that can be considered under such cases is by backing up the iCloud Photo Library across an external cloud service that keeps a backup of these files. For this, you need to follow these simple methods.

How To Transfer Photos From Mac To External Hard Drive Software

Step 1 Open your 'Photos' app on the Mac and tap on 'Photos' in its menu to select 'Preferences' from the drop-down menu that protrudes over clicking it.

Step 2 On the new window, tap the 'iCloud' button to lead to a new list of options. Select 'Download Originals to this Mac' for backing up data across the iCloud Photo Library in full resolution.

How To Transfer Photos From Mac To External Hard Drive Hard Drive


How To Transfer Photos From Mac To External Hard Drive External

This article has presented a comprehensive and detailed guide on how to transfer photos from Mac to an external hard drive with ease.

If you want to free up precious space on your Mac computer, then you can move your Mac's iPhoto Library on to an external hard drive. You can also move iPhoto Library to cloud storage service such as Dropbox, Google Drive, OneDrive, iCloud Drive, Box and more. Jan 29, 2020 Your Photos library holds all your photos, albums, slideshows and print projects. If your library is large, and you want to free up storage space on your Mac, turn on iCloud Library and use Optimise Mac Storage, or move your photo library to an external drive. Before you start, make sure that you back up your library. Jan 23, 2017 This is a tutorial on how to copy all photos from Apple's new Photos App (2017) to a hard drive. Including iCloud. HOW TO MOVE APPLE PHOTOS LIBRARY TO. Dec 11, 2018 Photos are some of the most important files people want to keep safe. Storing them in the cloud is nice, but you might also want the peace of mind of having your pictures stored locally. Luckily, it’s easy enough to copy your Mac’s Photos library to an external drive. Backup iPhone photos, albums or photo library to external hard drive or computer. Selectively back up photos or other files without having to create a whole back up. Delete unwanted photos in bulk or photo library for free. Have the freedom to transfer data between device and computer, between device and iTunes, or even between two devices.

Do you want to move your pictures to an external hard drive to save space for your iPhone and PC, so that you can delete them, but still keep them somewhere else? Or you just want to back up your photos to make sure that you never lose them.

There are a lot of concerns when it comes to transferring your photos and videos to external hard drives. For example, sometimes media won’t transfer over properly and videos can turn into still images. What can you do to transfer your images the right way and avoid these problems? Let’s take a look:

Mac Copy Photos To External Hard Drive
  • Method 1: Using TunesMate (For Win & Mac)
  • Method 2: Using Photos App (Just For Windows)
  • Method 3: Using Image Capture (Just For Mac)

3 Ways to Move iPhone Photo Library to External Hard Drive

Using TunesMate (For Win & Mac)

Now, how do you export photo library from iPhone to external hard drive? The easiest way to do this is with iMyFone TunesMate. This is a device manager that offer you a flexable transfer between iPhone and computer (as well as between iPhone and iTunes or an external drive).

You can take nearly any kind of data you want and transfer it to anywhere else.

How to copy photo library from mac to external hard drive
  • Backup iPhone photos, albums or photo library to external hard drive or computer.
  • Selectively back up photos or other files without having to create a whole back up.
  • Delete unwanted photos in bulk or photo library for free.
  • Have the freedom to transfer data between device and computer, between device and iTunes, or even between two devices.
  • Files supported to transfer include camera roll, My photo stream, music, video, audiobooks, podcasts, playlists ...

Steps to Move iPhone Photo Library to An External Hard Drive

Here are the easy steps that you can go through to export iPhone photo library to an external hard drive:

Step 1: Connect your iPhone and external drive to computer.
Step 2: Launch TunesMate. Head to “Backup Photos to PC/Mac”.

Step 3: Select your external drive and click on Select Folder. Then the whole photo library on your iPhone will be exported to your external HD.

If you want to selectively move the photo library, you can go to the top menu and click “Photos”, to select photos to backup.

Using Photos App (Just For Windows)

1. Plug your iPhone into your PC.
2. Open the Photos application, and then click Import and then On another device.
3. Select the photos on your iPhone as files that you want to import. And click on Continue.
4. Click on Change where you’re imported and choose a location (a folder on your computer) where you want to transfer the photos library.
5. Once you have imported your iPhone photo library to your PC, connect your external hard drive to your computer.

6. Open up the folder on your PC where you transferred the photos library with the file browser. Similarly, open up the main folder on your external hard drive using the file browser. Now simply copy the photos on your PC and paste them to the external drive. If you don’t want to save the photos on your computer, you can also delete them at this time.

Using Image Capture (Just For Mac)

1. Connect the external hard drive to your Mac. Connect your iPhone to your Mac.
2. Open the Image Capture program.
3. You should see your iPhone listed as a device in the corner of the window. Click it.
4. Now you will see a list of photos on your iPhone. Select which photos you want to store on the external drive.
5. Click to get the drop down menu, then click where is says Other. This will allow you to pick the external drive as a destination. After that, click Open.
6. Now Click Import to import the photos library, then just wait while the files are transferring.

Free up your space by transferring your Photos library to another external hard drive. By freeing up space you will have valuable space for your work on your Mac. In addition to this, we will help you to back up your whole photo library to iCloud.

Why store photos on external drive

In today’s world, everyone loves to capture photos of every single moment and wants to save all those moments in his/her personal devices like Mac. But saving all your photos can fill-up your Mac storage quickly and you may face the shortage of space.

There are many options to store your photos data. One of them to store your photos on iCloud photo library but the drawback of saving your photos on iCloud is, if you delete the photo from your device it will be deleted from iCloud as well.

One question raised up here is that what we can do to store all our photos to some safe place if we are running out of space on Mac?

Fortunately, you have visited the right place to find the solution to your problem. There is a safer and easy way to transfer your entire photo library from your Mac to your external drive. The best of this trick is whenever you need to see your photos on your Mac you just need to open photo library app on your Mac it will automatically take you to your saved photos in external hard drive until unless it is plugged in.

Snapshot of the guide

Mac Os Move Photos Library To External Drive

How To Export Photos From Iphone To External Hard Drive Mac

There is a quick snapshot of the guide so you can understand quickly how to move the library to external drive.

Move Mac Photos Library To External Drive

  • Prepare your external hard drive to move Photo Library. Make sure drive is formatted as MacOS Extended Journaled.
  • Go to the location of the Photo library and move it to external drive.
  • Set the external library as a System Photo Library (So whenever you open the Photos app it will open the photos library from the external hard drive.)
  • After completing trasfer to drive, make sure this external drive is connected to your Mac whenever you want to access photos.

Our article will help you to move your photos from Mac to external hard drive. Continue reading the steps are about to start.

Do not worry if you have already stored your photos on iCloud photo library. Our article will help you to get back your already saved photos in iCloud photos library and will help you to move them to external hard drive. Here is how to do it.

System Photo Library vs Other Library

When you run Photos app on your Mac first time this will ask you to create a new or use an old library. That default Photo library became the system library automatically. Only System Photo Library are allowed to access iCloud services.

You can create multiple other libraries and work with photos only in one library at a time. To work in another library you have to switch the library. You can also change and set one of the other libraries as a System library.

How to transfer the Photos library to a hard drive

First, make it sure the hard drive you are going to use for Photos library is faster and have enough space. It will save your time and stored your memories quickly. A good hard drive always keeps your stuff secure and there are fewer chances of losing your data.

Before going step by step to move your photo library to external hard, first make it sure that your external hard drive is already formatted for Mac OS Extended (journaled). If it is not formatted for Mac first erase all the data from it and format and choose the option of Mac OS Extended (journaled). Use the Disk Utility on your Mac to erase any hard drive (When you erase any drive in mac everything will be deleted, so please save any important data ).

  1. Find the Photos Library on your Mac, it will be in your Pictures folder. Click the Go menu on the top and then select Home option from the menu.
  2. Open the Pictures folder and there you will find the Photos library.
    TIP: In order to see how much storage your photos have taken, just Ctrl+Click on the photos library icon and click on Get Info. Now you can make sure that you have enough storage in your external hard drive.
  3. It’s time to copy your Photos Library to your external hard drive using drag and drop trick. Now sit back and wait until copies over. The time of transferring photos depends on the size of your Photo Library.
  4. When transferred completed, press and hold the Option/Alt key from keyboard and click the Photos app icon from Dock to open it. Keep holding the keyboard key until you see a window otherwise this will open the Photos app.
  5. You will see a new window to choose the library. On that window hit the button Other library. Navigate to the new location on your external hard drive and choose the Photo Library.
  6. If there is a message that shows “there are some items that need to be downloaded from iCloud Photo library” then you need to click on delete incomplete items and download all those incomplete items.

    Set a photo library as System Photo Library

    We have already moved the library to an external drive now its time to set it as System Photo Library. Doing that will allow it to use iCloud service.

  7. Open the Photo Library from the external drive.
  8. Click Photos men and then select the Preferences option.
  9. On the next window click General and then click Use as System Photo Library button (this will help you to get it to work with iCloud Photo Library)
    TIP: Remember this is the step you need to perform in future If you accidentally unlinked the external drive’s photo library from the Photos app.
  10. Go to System Preferences then iCloud then Photos then Options, and choose iCloud Photo Library to turn that back on. See if you have stored all the photos here.

Moving Iphoto To External Drive

Note: you will need to plug in your external hard drive in order to see your photos).

Delete Photo Library from Mac

Once you have confirmed that all the photos in the library moved to the external drive. You can delete the Photo Library from your Mac computer. Go to the Pictures folder and delete it to free up space from your mac.

How to back up your iCloud Photo Library

How To Transfer Photos To External Drive

If you want to move all your photos which you have already backed up to your iCloud photo library to a storage device connected to your Mac. Follow our step by step guide above, but you need to download all the images from iCloud first.

If you have already transferred your Photos library onto the external storage device, now you need to follow these steps.

How To Export Photos On Mac To External Hard Drive Won T Show Up

  1. Open Photos on your Mac.
  2. Click Photos then click on Preferences.
  3. Click on the iCloud tab.
  4. Choose Download originals to this Mac.

How To Export Photos On Mac To External Hard Drive Online

Now all your iCloud photos will be saved on the storage device. (If you are running short of space you would probably not want to do that)

How To Copy Photo Library From Mac To External Hard Drive

How To Export Photos On Mac To External Hard Drive Windows 10

How To Safely Move Your Mac's Photos Library Onto An External Drive

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It is quite likely that you store digital photos on your Mac computer. If you are like most users, your photo library is an ever-expanding entity as you regularly add new images and never get around to deleting any of the older ones. After a while, the storage demands of your library can start to add up and cause lack of space issues on your internal storage device.

Professional photographers and videographers are even more prone to running into a storage issue due to the size of their Photo libraries. We are making the assumption that you know how to move your photos from your iPhone to your Mac, and that your photo library is on your computer’s internal hard drive.

There is a simple solution that can be used whether you earn your living with your photos or just like to take a lot of pictures. What you need to do is to move photos from your Mac to an external hard drive.

We are going to show you how to do that, as well as point you toward a few externals storage devices that will work very well as repositories for your photo libraries. Near the end of the article, we will show you how to recover photos that may be accidentally deleted from your external hard drive.

How to Move Your Photos Library to an External Hard Drive

Let’s take a look at how to transfer photos from a Mac to an external hard drive. As with any major modification that you will be making to your computer or storage system, we recommend that you make sure that you have a good backup of your device before proceeding.

This adds a little time to the whole process, but in the event that something goes wrong during the data move, you will be glad that you have that backup. Just imagine all of your photos gone for good.

Steps to Move your Photos Library to an External Drive

  1. Attach your external hard drive to your Mac.
  2. If you have not yet done so, format the drive. We suggest using the same filesystem format that you are using on your internal hard drive.
  3. Open a Finder window and verify that your new storage device is correctly attached. You should see it listed under Locations in the Finder Window.
  4. From the left panel in the Finder window, select Pictures. If Pictures is not an option, go into Finder’sPreferences> Sidebar and check the box Pictures.
  5. Right click on the Photos library icon and select Get Info. Verify that you have enough free space for the library on the external drive.
  6. Drag and drop the Photos library icon onto the hard drive icon either in Finder or on your Desktop.
  7. Wait for the copy to complete. The elapsed time will vary based on the size of your library.
  8. When finished copying, hold down the option key while launching the Photos app.
  9. Click Other Library and navigate to the new location on the external device.
  10. In the Photos app, click on Preferences> General and select ‘Use as System Photo Library’. This is mandatory if you use iCLoud with your Photo library.
  11. Go to System Preferences> iCloud > Photos > Options. Select iCloud Photo Library to turn iCloud back on for your Photos.
  12. Disconnect your external hard drive and verify that all of your photos are indeed in the Photo library on the device. Once you are certain that the process is completed, you can drag the Photo library on your Mac to the Trash.
  13. If you want to immediately free up hard disk space, empty your Trash to permanently delete the photos.

At the end of this procedure, your external hard drive will contain all of the photos from your Photos library that were previously stored on your Mac. You have also freed up all of the space that they previously occupied. Nice work.

3 Best External Hard Drives for Storing Photos

There are many fine external storage devices from which to choose to hold your iPhoto libraries. Here are three of them.

Western Digital My Passport

You can obtain this external drive in a variety of colors and sizes ranging from 1TB to 4TB. It is self-powered and features password protection and hardware encryption. WD My Passport is compatible with USB 3.0 and USB 2.0 interfaces. It includes WD backup software that can be set to automatically protect your data on a timed schedule. It comes formatted for Windows but can be formatted for use on a Mac.

G-Technology G-Drive Mobile SSD R-Series

This drive is available in sizes up to 2TB and since it is an SSD drive, provides enhanced durability over traditional hard drives. It features high-speed data transfer and is shock and vibration resistant. A good choice if you plan on using your drive in challenging environments.

Samsung T5 SSD

Here is another SSD drive that comes in sizes from 250GB up to 2TB. It features a distinctive aluminum casing and is extremely portable, weighing in at 51 grams. Fast transfer speeds are a hallmark of Samsung SSDs and this model is no exception.

Tips to Recover Deleted Photos from an External Hard Drive on Mac

So now that you have all of your valuable photos on your external hard drive, what are you going to do if you accidentally delete some of those special memories? You might just be doing some housekeeping on your storage device and inadvertently send some photos to the Trash, which you then delete. Maybe you even formatted the drive by mistake.

Don’t panic. Here is a great way to recover deleted photos from an external storage device that is attached to a Mac.

  1. Download Disk Drill hard drive data recovery software for Mac. You can download it for free and use it to preview recoverable photos before spending a cent on the application.
    Data recovery for free
    Your Companion for Deleted Files Recovery
  2. Install the program and supply it with your Administrator’s password.
  3. Attach the removable storage device to your Mac.
  4. Start Disk Drill and select the external hard drive from the list of discovered devices.
  5. Click the “Recover” button and allow Disk Drill to scan your external drive for files that can be recovered. You will be presented with a list of the files that the tool can restore.
  6. At this point, you can recover these files by purchasing a licensed version of Disk Drill.

We hope this article has been helpful in showing you how to move your iPhoto libraries to an external hard drive. If you save a lot of photos on your computer, there is a good chance you will eventually want to free up the space they occupy for other things. Now you know how to accomplish that task.