How to Safely Move Photo Library from Mac to External Hard Drive

December 20, 2019Nicole Jones
I recently got an external hard drive. To save my Mac space and make it run faster, I want to move all my photos to external hard drive. It takes up almost 200gb of space. How can I move them to spare more space on my Mac.
Transfer Photos

Photo Library is home to all your photos, albums and slideshows. If you are trying to free up Mac storage, it is wise to transfer all your photos from MacBook to external hard drive. Luckily, this post will show you the latest solution to move photo library from Mac to external hard drive.

Part 1. Easy Steps to Copy Photos from Mac to External Hard Drive

Before transferring photos to external hard drive, you need to make sure the disk is formatted for APFS or Mac OS Extended. Otherwise, the disk cannot be recognized, nor the content cannot be modified by Mac.

Step 1.
Open Finder and select Pictures from the left panel. Locate and open iPhoto Library folder.
Step 2.
Open a new Finder window and locate the external hard drive folder. You can create a new folder to save photos.
Step 3.
Just drag and drop the iPhoto Library folder directly to the external hard drive. It may take a while according to the photo amount. So, don't turn off your Mac or unplug the external hard drive.
iPhoto Library

If your Mac is running slow or out of storage, you may need to move the large photos to external hard drive. But there is another quick way to get more spare space on your Mac. What you need to do is to clear your Mac with Aiseesoft Mac Cleaner. It is a professional Mac management tool to remove junk files, clutter, duplicate photos, shred files and maintain Mac performance.

Mac Cleaner


Mac Cleaner

  • Remove large and old files, duplicate photos, shred files and more.
  • Preview the duplicate photos or files before deleting them on Mac.
  • Monitor disk utilization, CPU, battery status and memory usage.
  • Compatible with Mac, MacBook, MacBook Air/Pro, iMac, etc.

Part 2. How to Download iCloud Photos to External Hard Drive

If you have synced photos to iCloud, you can download the original images from iCloud Photo Library on Mac. Follow the simple steps below.

Step 1.
Open "Photos" on your Mac. Go to Photos menus and select "Preferences".
Step 2.
Click on "iCloud" section, and check "iCloud Photo Library".
Step 3.
Then, check "Download Originals to this Mac". This process may take long due to the iCloud library storage and network issues. (See how to use iCloud Photos on iPhone)
Download from iCloud

Part 3. How to Recover Deleted Photos from External Hard Drive

If you accidentally lost photos from external hard drive, you can still get them back. This may happen when you format an external hard drive. Don't worry. With the advantageous Aiseesoft Mac Data Recovery, you can get all the deleted or lost data back, including photos, documents, emails, videos, audio and more.

Mac Data Recovery


Aiseesoft Mac Data Recovery

  • Recover photos, documents, audio, video from external hard drive.
  • Restore from hard drive, computer, memory card, digital camera, etc.
  • Get photos back due to deletion, formation and other hard drive problem.
  • It allows you to preview the deleted photos before recovering to Mac.
Step 1.
Free download this Mac photos recovery program. Install and run it on your Mac. If you are running macOS X EL Capitan or later, you need to disable System Integrity Protection first.
Mac Data Recovery
Step 2.
In the main interface, you can check the data you want to recover like Image, Audio, Video, Email, Document and Others. Then, select the external hard drive and click "Scan".
Scan Mac
Step 3.
After the scan is completed, you will find all your data are listed in the left pane. Select the photos and click "Recover" to extract the lost or deleted photos to your Mac.

If you cannot find the photos you want to recover, you can click "Deep Scan" to scan more photos thoroughly and completely.

Deep Scan Mac


It seems easy to move photos from Mac to external hard drive with the method above. If you want to free up more space on your Mac, it is wise to choose Mac Cleaner to get the useless apps, duplicate photos, shred files away from your Mac. If you accidentally lost data due to hard drive formation, you can try Mac Data Recovery to get all your photos back.

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Mac Cleaner is a professional Mac management tool to remove junk files, clutter, large/old files, delete duplicate files and monitor your Mac performance.

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