Sunday, January 18, 2004

How to create iPhoto Disc images with a CD or DVD burner, particularly for Library Importing and Merging

Update 1/14/06: See my digital photography page for a much improved version of this technique.
I figured out how to create a sparseimage version that will grow when you dump your iPhoto Library in it. Then you create a read-only version as below when you're done and iPhoto will work as below.

At the moment the sparseimage is too big (12MB compressed) to put online. I won't be able to work on this for at least 4 days so someone else will have to do it sooner.

You create a sparseimage from the read/write version I reference below using the hdiutil convert command. Note that the help version is incorrect. Sorry, I don't even have time to write this out! More later...

This technique is very useful when you want to merge iPhoto Libraries, such as merging iPhoto 2 libraries into a combined iPhoto 4 library. It uses the CD/DVD merge techniques without first burning a CD/DVD. Indeed, if you can get hold of the appropriate disc image you don't need a CD or DVD burner to do the imports/merges. I'll eventually post an empty compressed image on my web site for people to use. I am sure there are shortcuts that will replace this technique, I'll revise this post as they are discovered.

1. You need to start with a physical CD or DVD burned by iPhoto (version 2 or 4 work equally well). Preferably from a large library so it will be big enough to work with.
2. Using Disk Utility create a disk image of the CD or DVD (select item in the Disk Utility image list, the choose New Image from Device. YOU MUST SELECT THE "TOP" ITEM IN THE HIERARCHY, USUALLY IT'S A DEVICE DESCRIPTION.
3. Mount the image. Start iPhoto. Confirm it now displays as though the physical CD/DVD were inserted.
4. Restart Disk Utility. Choose Images New - Image from Folder. Navigate to the mounted disk image and select it. CREATE AS A READ/WRITE IMAGE.
5. Mount the new image you created. Empty it out -- throw away the iPhoto Library folder and empty the trash. KEEP THIS IMAGE, IT'S NOW WHAT YOU USE TO DO EDITING WITH. IT WILL COMPRESS WELL WITH STUFFIT.

From now on, if you want to merge a library, copy it to this editable image. Rename it iPhoto Library. THEN YOU MUST CREATE A READ-ONLY IMAGE FROM THIS ITEM.

1. Using Disk Utility create Images - New Image from Folder. Select the read/write image you just mounted. Save as read only.
2. Launch iPhoto. See the disc mount. Now merge
(see to learn how to merge libraries.)


I'm sure there are slightly quicker approaches and better approaches. As I learn them I'll revise this blog and eventually this will go into its own web page, along with a compressed disk image to use as a starter image.

Update 12/11/05: In sorting through backlogged email, I came across a message from 9/05 suggesting an extension to this method. I've not tested it yet, but I will! Alex figured out that the disk image that iPhoto needs doesn't have to actually contain the images to be merged; instead one can put a path in the XML and put the Library you want to merge in that path. This saves a LOT of hassles, time and space.

As long as I'm updating here, I'd like to mention that the latest version of iPhoto Library Manager will merge Libraries, and I think it preserves keywords better than the disk image method described here.

Emphases mine.
From: Alex N...
Subject: iPhoto merging
Date: Sun, 25 Sep 2005 10:49:51 -0400

I was looking into how to merge iPhoto libraries from a recent trip (on my wife's iBook) into my main library and came across your page.

I wanted to add that making a simple disk image with a hardcoded path to /Users//Desktop/Pictures/iPhoto Library allows you to just drag the pictures folder from the other computer onto your desktop, then load the disk image (which contains ONLY the XML file and is therefore tiny) to access the other photos.

In this way one disk image can be re-used multiple times ...