iPhoto 11 fix/ The unofficial Apple fix


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iPhoto 11 update/ upgrade

iLife 11

Missing photos/ Lost photos


Corrupt files

iLife/ iPhoto 11 nightmare

Permission Errors

Sooooooo many people are in despair, struggling to recover their lost photos by the new iPhoto 11 upgrade process.

It is true! iPhoto 11 can and will lose (read: delete!) most of your photos during the upgrade process if it goes wrong (and often it does; my own estimate is by now over 30,000 cases, which makes you wonder if Bill Gates wrote the code for iLife 11 ;-)

Many people are suggesting remedies and questionable solutions, and much of which, are too drastic (involving erasing many files, and potentially losing meta data of the photos: when and how, faces, names, projects, calendars, etc, etc), while playing with all possible combinations of running the option and command keys.

I would have recommended that people would rather wait for the official fix from Apple, rather than attempt to make the problem much worse; But that would also mean waiting for Apple’s help (which might come or not: depending on how many customers are affected by this), and it would also mean waiting for an unknown long time while you don’t have access to your precious personal and professional photo collection.

The problem however, no matter how drastic, turns out quite easy to fix.

For all of you, I do have the solution to this.

Easy, safe and quick:

P.S.: This is the solution on how to upgrade iPhoto 11 without losing any photos in the process. For all of you, who already did, and lost your photos, you need to restore a backed up version of the iPhoto Library from your Time Machine, or by any other means before proceeding, since you iPhoto Library is already damaged and missing most of it’s content! (This even apply to those people who think(!) that their upgrade went smoothly: check all your photos and videos, you might be up to a nasty surprise!

*****Very Important: Let me say this again: if you attempted t open iPhoto 11 even once and failed, then your iPhoto Library is already damaged!!! You need to restore first to an untouched iPhoto Library: in other words, restore to an iPhoto Library that was never opened by iPhoto 11. Please re-read this part again and again, it is crucial.

This is also re-enforces that losing data might happen even with mighty Apple products, and to be fair, this problem can’t be totally blamed on Apple. See the technical details below if interested.

So without much further a do, here is the solution:

10/29/2010: Before you start, make sure that your user account has administrative privileges: Go to System Preferences, click Accounts and verify that your’s says “Admin” not Standard or anything else. If not, then click/ tick the box that says: “Allow user to administer this computer”, and then reboot.

1)   Go to: http://www.macchampion.com/arbysoft/BatchMod/Welcome.html, this is a free excellent utility. Consider making a donation to the author. Disclaimer: I have no connection and/ or financial interest in it.

2)   Download, Install BatChmod and Run it.

3)   Drag and Drop your iPhoto Library (usually located in your pictures folder) into the open BatChmod window.

4)   Change the Letters R, W and X under the Owner, Group and Everyone to a check mark.

5)   Also Change/ Tick to a check mark the following boxes: Change ownership and privileges, Clear ACLs, unlock box and Apply to enclosed folders and files.

6)   Click Apply

7)   You all done! You can now safely run your iPhoto 11.  Enjoy! (and spread the word)

Extra: Many are writing about fonts and plugins. If you follow the above advise exactly, then you will realize that they are NONE issue; however, if you are still worried about them, then here is what you need to do:

Fonts: Open the “Font book” which is located in your application or utility folder, click “All Fonts”, then select all in the right column, right click and choose “Resolve Duplicates”. Repeat all again and this time choose “Validate Font”, and then remove the error one(s). Don’t be surprised to find many errors.

Plugin: Right click on your “iPhoto” application, then choose “Show Package contents”, double click the folder “contents”, then find in it the folder “plugin” and just drag it to your desktop. (Put it back in the same place AFTER you have ran iPhoto successfully.

Technical details:

iPhoto’s 11 upgrade/ update failure is based on the fact that many folders inside the iPhoto Library end up locked from being able to be accessed by the system in order for it to read/ write and re-arrange them as needed (some for security reasons and some erroneously), and as a result, many folders/ photos are not accessed or processed, with many deleted during movement from the old library to the new one. Typically these files are videos, AVI, projects and some photos.

Some advises posted on the net were “around” this fact, by trying to run Disk Utility permission repair, boot in a safe mode, downgrade to iPhoto 9 and rebuild…etc, etc; But all missed, and sometimes worsened, the main problem, except for the few who got lucky, and unfortunately following some of these advises might lead to more harm and to a truly damaged folders!

The simple solution is to grant, at least temporarily, iPhoto 11 the ability to access and modify all folders as needed. If you think that changing permission on the iPhoto Library would solve it, you are mistaken. You will need to go to each folder and to each file and change it. Anything missed will result in a loss and/ or a complete upgrade failure. In other words, even if the iPhoto Library says read/write, many individual files inside it are locked.

This can by done, painstakingly, folder by folder, file by file (since Leopard Snow doesn’t give the ability to rather change the enclosing folders as Leopard used to be), or through Terminal if you are an expert, or much easier for everyone else (and safer because no file will be accidenatally missed) is by running a batch command, as noted above.

P.S.: If at point during installation or changing files, your Mac asks you for a password, make sure to provide both the admin user name and password. In other words, if you are not listed as an administrator on your account, then you need to provide the name and password of the administrator in order to allow the system to make changes.


UPDATE: 742 people reported success following the above instructions.


UPDATE: 916 people reported success following the above instructions, are you one of them? Please let us and others know…


Apple has just released the official fix to iPhoto 11 through a software download, go to http://support.apple.com/kb/HT4431 .

I have not tested it, but I have all the faith in Apple, even though that I would strongly disagree with their statement: ” In extremely rare cases, if you do not follow the recommendations below during the upgrade process you may experience data loss“. And then Apple adds: ” it is strongly recommended that you do not force quit the application during the update process..”.

I find such statements misleading and even insulting:

1) It is not only in “extreme cases”. I already estimated 30,000 people, or more affected (and those are only the people who are aware that they do have a problem in the first place). Maybe 30,000 people are not much to Apple, but even one person with a lose of a life-time photo collection is one too many. (You can name such person whatever you want for not backing-up their photos, but he/ she is still heartbroken).

2) Apple implying that the problem is because people didn’t follow the instructions; rather than take responsibility and admit own faulty software.

3) The statement that you may lose data, is an understatement. You are more likely than not to lose data. Permanently!

4) People reported iPhoto 11 spinning wheel during the upgrade process being stuck there for hours (even days!). So to say it is their fault because they force quit? How much longer you would expect them to wait? Maybe until the next release of iPhoto???

Happy now?



UPDATE: As luck would have it, my site was down for the last 24 hours (thank you very much wordpress.com!).

Back to the issue at hand, it seems that indeed the problem is pretty much fixed (for the majority), though there are still negative reports trickling in. Most likely they are due to the fact that people are resuming the update with already damaged iPhoto Library(s). To make things worse, it is very likely Time Machine copies are already updated with the damage one and maybe even erased the good old one(s).


Posted in Apple, iLife 11, iPhoto 11, iPhoto 9, iPhoto11 Fix | Tagged , , , , , , | 57 Comments