Photos are some of the most important files that people want to keep safe. Your storage in the cloud is nice, but you may also want your images stored locally. Luckily, copying your Mac's photos library to an external drive is easy enough.
This guide assumes that you are using the actual "Photos" app on your Mac. This is the default setting if you have iCloud Photo Stream used or imported from your iPhone. If your photos are only in a folder on your Mac, all you need to do is plug in your external drive and move it. If you're using another app that manages a library, you'll need to configure the settings in this app.
To understand how this works, it is important to know how the Photos app catalogs files. It is actually quite simple. There is a single file that contains your entire library. If you want to do this, attach your external hard drive and drag the entire file to this hard drive in the Finder sidebar.
The more difficult part occurs when you need to change the photo library that you want to use. You must change the location from which the Photos app reads.
In the screenshot below, I have two standard libraries for photos and a backup library.
You can access the backup library by simply double-clicking it to open it in the photo app. However, it is advisable to change photos to use them by default. You can always switch back to the normal library.
Double-click the backup library to open it, and then open Photos Preferences preferences in the menu bar.
Select Use as System Photos Library, which changes the default value in the new library.
Automatically Backing Up Your Drive with Time Machine
Backing up files manually is not the best solution because you can never predict when your computer will break. It's better to automatically make a backup so you do not have to think about it at all. Apple's built-in Time Machine is the best tool for backing up to an external drive. You can read our commissioning guide.
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