How to Accidentally Delete Photos in iPhoto ’11 (version 9)


My first App Store purchase for my Mac was iPhoto ’11.

Consider the following a warning, if you haven’t already figured this out. I think my mistake was in assuming that iPhoto managed photos in the same manner that media is managed in iTunes.

Recently, I went searching for photos in several albums and realized they were gone. At first, I panicked. These were important photos. Sure, they probably existed somewhere in Time Machine, but that wasn’t a certainty – every now and then I’ll delete the Time Machine backup and start over.

It didn’t take long to figure out what happened, once I discovered the missing files were in iPhoto’s Trash. It turns out that I didn’t realize that when I deleted photos from an album (moved to trash) they were also deleted from the iPhoto Library.

Instead, I should have selected the photos and clicked “Remove from Album”, which would have removed the photos only from the specific albums.

Personally, I think this was a poor UI choice considering many iPhoto users are probably very familiar with iTunes and would expect the same behavior, as I did.

In addition, I never really wanted to delete those photos from any album – I removed them from new albums that iPhoto had automatically added the photos to. iPhoto should have an option to not automatically populate new albums with existing photos (as far as I can tell there’s no preference to turn this off).

In the end, if you’re missing some photos, check the iPhoto Trash first.

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