iPhoto Library Manager Makes Multiple iPhoto Libraries a Whiz

by Chris Howard Apr 09, 2007

iPhoto can create multiple photo libraries, but to say its handling of them is bad would be a compliment. It’s a lot worse than that.

As most know by now, holding the option key while starting iPhoto enables the creation or selection of a different iPhoto library. This is cumbersome, very restrictive, and doesn’t solve the automatic launch of iPhoto when you connect a camera or camera media card with whichever was the last library you had open in iPhoto.

iPhoto library managers exist that solve some of these problems. One that stands out from the crowd is iPhoto Library Manager from Fat Cat Software.

Fat Cat Software is a one-man operation run by developer Brian Webster. Brian has been developing Mac software since high school and spent several years coding at Alsoft, Inc., best known for DiskWarrior. In 2006, Brian plunged into the life of self-employment. As well as iPhoto Library Manager, he has also produced a plist editor, Plist Edit Pro.

Hot Tip
Before I get into iPhoto Library Manager, I want to give you a hot tip that is useful for any iPhoto library manager. You may remember that the first time you started iPhoto it asked how you wanted to handle digital cameras when connected. For reasons only Steve could understand, to change which application launches when you connect a camera or media card, you have to go into the preferences in Image Capture (located in the Applications folder).

To get the real advantage of your iPhoto library manager, make it the default app that launches when you connect a camera or media card. To do this, on the General tab next to “When camera is connected, open:” select “Other…” and then locate iPhoto Library Manager (or your library manager of choice) and select it. Then click OK and close Image Capture.

I have two libraries, one for study related photos and one for personal. So usually the images on the camera are for one or the other and I want to choose which library before iPhoto launches, hence setting iPhoto Library Manager as the default. Of course, sometimes images are for both, and iPhoto Library Manager has a solution for this problem as well.


From Fat Cat Software’s website, iPhoto Library Manager’s key features are:

Multiple libraries: Create multiple iPhoto libraries, instead of having to keep all your photos in a single library

Info at a glance: See at a glance what albums are in each of your libraries, as well as their version, modification date, and size

Share and share alike: Set your library’s permissions so that it can be used by multiple users on the same machine

In sync: Sync photos from multiple libraries with your iPod

Automate it: Customize your photo workflow using built-in Applescript support and Automator actions

Quick switch: Switch to another library with one click by using shortcut files

Makin’ copies: Copy photos from one library to another while retaining titles, comments, keywords, ratings, and dates

Doing the splits: Split a large library apart into smaller, more manageable libraries

Merge your acquisitions: Merge multiple libraries together into one

Photo first aid: Rebuild or extract photos from corrupted iPhoto libraries

Direct import: Import photos directly into a particular library with filtering and metadata options

Libraries can be created within iPLM and viewed either by roll or album name.

Okay, in the Hot Tip we solved the problem of which library to launch, but what if your media card contains images that you want to put in multiple libraries? Happens to me all the time. Some personal stuff, some school stuff. iPhoto Library Manager provides two ways of handling this.

Method 1: Use import (registered version only) to copy relevant photos directly from the camera/media to the corresponding iPhoto library. Repeat for each library.

Method 2: Open one iPhoto library. Import all images into it. Put photos to move in an album of their own. In iPhoto Library Manager, drag that album to the other library. Repeat as required.

Using iPhoto Library Manager, I couldn’t find anything missing that should be there. It’s more like an app with fries and a coke thrown in and upsized. You knew you wanted some easy way of managing multiple iPhoto libraries, and with this app you get a whole lot of extra features you didn’t realize you needed and won’t be able to live without.

iPhoto’s greatest failing is that it doesn’t consider multi-purpose use of digital cameras. Many people find the need to save their images in different libraries.

My hope, one day, is that within iPhoto it will list all my libraries in a tree structure (a lot like Mail does with multiple accounts) with independent keyword lists for each library and searching across all libraries. (While we’re at it, I’d also like it to be able to copy image adjustments from one image to another.)

In the meantime, iPhoto Library Manager is a brilliant solution. There is a free version that has no time limits, but does have the following restrictions:

* Copying albums between libraries without the 20 photo limit (requires iPhoto 4.0.3 or later)
* Merging libraries together (requires iPhoto 4.0.3 or later)
* Importing photos directly into a library or album along with various metadata (requires iPhoto 4.0.3 or later)
* The ability to have more than one iPod Folder at a time, and copy more than 100 photos to an iPod folder
* Creating iPhoto library shortcuts

The full version costs US$19.95, which might be a smidge steep but is still worth it.

Highly recommended. 9/10


  • Before reading this article I didn’t know about iphone manager.But after reading this it seem to that I can use it in my iphone to make a multiple library that is badly needed for me.Thanks for this great post and I am waiting for the next one on this library manager.
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