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I have all my photos in a folder on my external drive, which is connected to my Mac. I have nothing going on in iPhoto. I want the following:

  1. I'd like iPhoto to index photos on my external drive.
  2. I'd like it not to copy photos into its own folder structure (my internal hard drive is full as is). The photos need to stay on the external drive, as it is being shared with a PC and its Windows Photo Gallery application.

Is this possible? If so, how.

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up vote 3 down vote accepted

You can create a second iPhoto Library and store it on the External. To do that hold down option when starting iPhoto and that will give you the option to creating the library, as well as the ability to switch which library is in use once you have more than one. The problem I suspect you will run into is that the photos will still be moved into the library and you don't want to share out a folder in the library to share with the windows app.

Aperture ($200) will let you create a library that references files outside of it's library. Aperture is geared towards a RAW workflow and still syncs with iWork and iPhone, but it is laking some iPhoto features such as Faces.

The application Shoebox, which is an iPhoto alternative will do what you want, but you of course loose some of the iPhoto specific functionality and tie-ins with Apple's other apps.

Edit: Actually, it is possible. Preferences --> Advanced --> uncheck Copy items to iPhoto library. You may still want two libraries though.

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I just thought of a gotcha on using that setting in iPhoto: it is stored in the preference file, and is not tied to each library. You could use to shuffle the prefs and option launch to choose the library, but having to do both gets convoluted. For that reason I'd consider the alternate apps I suggested, or maybe move everything to the external so you can have only one system for managing your photos. – ridogi Dec 9 '09 at 4:55

I have set up my external HDD this way. it is really easy, all you have to do is;

Open iPhoto, and click on the top menu called "iPhoto" between the "File" menu and the "Apple" logo menu --> go to "Preferences" --> go to the "Advanced" tab, and uncheck the box the says "Importing - Copy items to the iPhoto library"

This way you won;t have to create a second library on your external HDD. What it actually does is, it will reference any pictures you import to iPhoto, it will continue to create the file structure under the iPhoto library without copying the photos, it will just create a shortcut. You can have any folder structure in your external drive. The only thing I found to be a problem or more of a waste of time is, every time I add pictures to a folder ex; "Xevent 2009" to my external drive, I have to import the file added on external drive to iPhoto. iPhoto doesn't seem to have an automatic feature like Picasa by Google that reads any added files and displays them right away, without having to import.

Anyways hope this helps, it's helped me keep my iMac desktop running clean and fast while everything like pictures, music, videos, etc are organized any way I want on my external drive.

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