How to import images and folders into Photos for OS X

If you've collected images you'd like to manage with Photos for Mac, there are a few ways to go about importing them. Here's how!

Photos gives you pretty comprehensive image management features: You can edit and adjust your images, sort them into albums and more. That's great for photos you've shot on your iPhone, with a DSLR or a point and click camera.

But if you've collected imagery over the years from other sources, those pictures may be floating free on your desktop or in folders on your Mac, accessible from the Finder. Here's how to get them all into Photos for Mac.

Why would you bother to do that? There are a few good reasons.

If you'd like to access your pictures on all your devices, not just the Mac, Photos has great integration with iCloud Photo Library, for example.

Photos also sports cataloging features such as the ability to add keywords to photos, title individual photos and more. And Photos gives you an easy way to share images with others via social media and other services thanks to its support of share sheets.

How to import images and folders into Photos

  1. Double-click on Photos to open it.
  2. Click on the File menu.
  3. Select Import (or type command shift I).
  4. Locate the image or folder you want to import, and click on the Review for Import button.

The file will now be added to your Photos library.

In the Finder, you can also simply drag and drop the images you want to import onto the Photos icon; Photos will import them.

Bear in mind, though, that Photos' default behavior is not to include original images in imports. It keeps links to them, so you can use Photos to edit or catalog them but still keep them where they are.

This is a double-edged sword: It reduce the size of Photos' library but if your goal is to clean up folders and disks with lots of photos on them, it can get confusing. To put everything actually in your Photos library, make sure to modify Photos' preferences to copy imported files to your Photos library. There's another important reason to do this if you plan to share those imported images on other devices: Only items copied to Photos' library will be uploaded to iCloud Photo Library.

To copy imported files to your Photos library

  1. With Photos open, click on the Photos menu and select Preferences... (or type command and ,).
  2. Check Copy items to the Photos library.
  3. Close the preferences window to save the change.