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How to import multiple libraries into Photos for OS X

Photos for OS X does let you work with multiple libraries, but it doesn't let you import them and combine them all together into a single, unified library. At least not yet. If you have Aperture, however, you can import and consolidate multiple Aperture and iPhoto libraries there first, then get the merged library into Photos for OS X. It's a work around, but it works.

How to import multiple libraries into Aperture

  1. Launch Aperture on your Mac.
  2. Click on File > Import > Library...
  3. Find the library you want to import. (If you don't see it, try looking in your *Pictures** folder.
  4. Click on Import.
  5. Repeat steps 2-3 for every additional library you want to import.

How to import your consolidated library into Photos

If you haven't setup Photos for OS X yet, you can simply select the new, combined library as the one to import when you do.

  • How to setup and start using Photos for OS X

If you have setup Photos for OS X already, you can simply open the new library like any other. (And once you're sure you're happy with it, delete your old library.)

  • How to work with multiple libraries in Photos for OS X
  • How to delete your old library after migrating to Photos for OS X
Rene Ritchie
Rene Ritchie

Rene Ritchie is one of the most respected Apple analysts in the business, reaching a combined audience of over 40 million readers a month. His YouTube channel, Vector, has over 90 thousand subscribers and 14 million views and his podcasts, including Debug, have been downloaded over 20 million times. He also regularly co-hosts MacBreak Weekly for the TWiT network and co-hosted CES Live! and Talk Mobile. Based in Montreal, Rene is a former director of product marketing, web developer, and graphic designer. He's authored several books and appeared on numerous television and radio segments to discuss Apple and the technology industry. When not working, he likes to cook, grapple, and spend time with his friends and family.

4 Comments
  • If I import my iPhoto library into Aperture before importing the consolidated library into Photos will iPhoto specific data like faces and print projects be included?
  • Has anyone had an issue importing an older library and being told Photos could not fix the permissions on the old library and aborts? I am having that issue. I did check permissions on the drives using disk utility and that is fine. The library opens with no issues with iphoto.. Thought?
  • These links don't work.
    How to work with multiple libraries in Photos for OS X
    How to delete your old library after migrating to Photos for OS X
  • I had an Aperture library in a separate location (attached storage) from my default Pictures folder on my MacBook Pro. When I set up Photos for OS X, it defaulted to use the Pictures folder. Is there any way to import the separate Aperture photos into the Photos library (which now has iCloud Photo turned on)? I was able to open and convert the Aperture library to the Photos for OS X, but I cannot make it the iCloud Photo sync library; so it's considered a separate Photos library that I can open via the CTRL-right-click Open With method. I'm at wit's end. I would love to know how to import the Aperture photos after the fact.