Mac Tip: Update to “One iPhoto library to rule them all”

Mac Tip: Update to “One iPhoto library to rule them all”

Back in April, I wrote a Mac tip on how to set up a centralized iPhoto server that stays synchronized to one computer in your house. One reason you'd want to do this is if the primary residence of family digital photos is your MacBook, which isn't always at home or available when others might want to access those photos using iPhoto's network sharing capabilities.

Now with the new version, iPhoto '08, this has changed somewhat. In the old version, all the photos were stored in a series of folders in your Pictures folder inside the Home folder. My tip kept you from having to copy all of your photos every night by using the 'rsync' Terminal command that only copies the changes. If you added only a few new photos today, then it would only copy a couple of hundred megabytes instead of copying the entire multigigabyte file.

But Apple has changed how iPhoto '08 stores its photos. Now they are kept in a 'package', a special kind of folder that the computer sees as one big file. Thus anytime your library changes, then the whole multigigabyte file has to be copied. Every single time. This is a bit of a pain, especially if you keep your laptop connected wirelessly all the time. I stopped doing this recently and now leave my MacBook Pro sitting on my desk at night connected with an Ethernet cable, which is going to be much faster. (Wait, is that right? I'll have the check the relative network speeds.)

On the other hand, the change to storing the photos as a package has one benefit. For some reason the old version of iPhoto would sometimes not recognize the new photos after a synchronization. I think it certain preference or other files weren't always being updated along with the photos. In any case, since the whole library is being copied every night, it means that the iPhoto server always shows all the photos in its library.

Man, if Apple would only come out with some kind of iLife Home Server or something, it would make all this much easier. Hey, Apple, are you listening?!