iPhoto 11 fix/ The unofficial Apple fix

IPhoto

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iPhoto 11 update/ upgrade

iLife 11

Missing photos/ Lost photos

Error

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.

10/28/2010:

UPDATE: 742 people reported success following the above instructions.

10/29/2010:

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

NEWS:

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?

 

10/31/2010:

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).


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57 Responses to iPhoto 11 fix/ The unofficial Apple fix

  1. sriggins says:

    Thanks for this!

    The problem with bundles as you mentioned is that there are a lot of files inside of a bundle and OS X does not set them, nor allow recursive setting of them, nor should it really have to.

    Permissions have been a major pain in OS X since 10.1. They get set oddly, usually without a user knowing how nor when.

    Applications that operate on bundles should do a permissions sanity check. Actually, the OS should do this, and the application can suggest a template for the check.

  2. jpmack says:

    Thanks, I’ll try tonight after a backup!

    One question: should I select “Apply to enclosed folders…”? Logic would say yes, but you didn’t mention it and it isn’t checked by default.

  3. iphoto11fix says:

    Yes jpmack, you should select “Apply to enclosed folders” if asked, since the whole mess with iPhoto11 comes from the program inability to access the locked files. This also why some user succeeded when they erased most of their AVI files and projects, since they in essence deleted the locked files!
    Best,
    Henry Carlson

  4. Eli says:

    Hi Henry
    Many thanks for the information.
    I have followed your procedure to the letter.
    Furtunately,no photos were lost,but I still have the same issue,in that everytime I open iPhoto,it seems to rebuild its database.
    Any ideas?
    Cheers from Perth

    • iphoto11fix says:

      Yes Eli, it is supposed to rebuild the database during the first run (and only). If the iPhoto Library already damaged (as in if you opened it at least once prior to following my solution), then you will need to restore a normal iPhoto Library before proceeding (meaning an iPhoto Library that you never opened after iLife 11 install).

      • Anonymous says:

        I get the same issue as Eli… I’ve started from a clean backup, and followed all steps… I suspect we may be experiencing a different issues – perhaps with plugins or something…

        Great instructions though – clear and easy to follow!

  5. Pingback: iPhoto 11: cosa ne pensate?

  6. Stephen Blackstock says:

    What are the (negative) implications of leaving permissions set like that (777)? Do you recommend trying to revert to something more restrictive/secure after the upgrade?

  7. If you have multiple users of your Mac, then yes, you would want to set the permission back to you only if you worry about someone accessing your photos (viewing, editing or deleting).
    The system though, meaning the iPhoto software itself, need such an access in order for YOU to see your photos, and that part is what is messed-up during the upgrade process.

  8. Felix says:

    Why would you need 777, why not 700 or 770?

    After all, when you launch iPhoto, the program has your file access rights. That should be enough.

  9. Matteo Rossi says:

    Clean instructions but it didn’t work for me.
    iPhoto keeps on bugging with “upgrade required” on startup.
    It’s probably another issue. I’ve started from a TM backed-up photo library.
    In the end I’ve switched back to iPhoto 09.
    Thank you anyway

  10. Mike Caul says:

    I followed the instructions before installing iLife 11 to the letter. Several hundred (so far) of my photos are gone, to make matters worse I can’t backup from time machine because the upgrade to iLife 11 eliminated all backups previous to the upgrade. UGH
    I called Apple and they are aware of this problem (with time machine) too.

    • Mike,
      The sequence should be:
      1) Backup your iPhoto Library
      2) Install iLife 11, but don’t run iPhoto yet
      3) Do the above instructions
      4) Go and run your iPhoto and let it go through the update process.
      It seems that you did 3 then 2?
      iLife 11 installation, per se, is probably causing permissions error, and thus you need to run the instructions AFTER the install, but BEFORE you run iPhoto for the first time. Timing is everything.

  11. Chris K says:

    Is it just me or what – I do not see any instructions. Just the title of your post and then a blank pager. Did you take them down???

    Chris

  12. Kirk van says:

    I’m not seeing any instructions above either…

  13. Chris Kuborn says:

    I guess it was deleted. Sure could use some help getting iPhoto 11 to work for me.

  14. Andrew says:

    How do I to revert back to iphoto 09….or is it too late? I reinstalled it but when I press iphoto it still opens the 11 version? Please help….this is so painful:(

    • Reverting back to iPhoto 9 is possible, but not as straight forward as it may sound. Worse yet, if your iPhoto Library was “touched” by iPhoto 11, you would NOT even be able to open it again with iPhoto 9!

  15. clyde says:

    THANK YOU. You saved years and year of photos. :) i appreciate it greatly.

  16. Lorne Chapman says:

    Taking your advice on waiting for the official Apple fix (early in the article) I downloaded it. The “9.0.1” upgrade seems to want iPhoto 11 installed before it will install – something that’s not clear in the Apple support article`

    • Henry Carlson says:

      Sure. You need to install iLife 11 first (which includes iPhoto 11), then download and install Apple’s fix 9.0.1, THEN, and only then, go ahead and run iPhoto 11.

  17. Chris K says:

    Just wanted to provide an additional fix. I had 2 libraries ( I use multiples to break up the libraries) that I tried to open before the above fix – yes, they were corrupted and would not open at all.

    I right clicked on the libraries in the Finder, clicked “Show Package Contents”, the deleted “iPhotoMain.db” and renamed “iPhotoMain.db.bak” to “iPhotoMain.db” opened the library in iPhoto 11 and BOOM – no lost photos!!!!!!!

    Try it out!

    Chris

  18. Guest says:

    Thank you Henry, you are the best!!!!!!!!!!!

  19. MJN says:

    OMG — you guys are so smart! This totally worked when nothing else did—cannot wait to call up the Apple Store genius that was working with us who filed a ticket up to the engineers…good lord don’t they know!

    What I realized after reading your site and working with the Apple store folks is that the permissions on my library somehow had duplicated the “everyone” statement and so I couldn’t delete out the 2 instances of “everyone” so there was only one. Does that make sense? Anyway…WOWIE…..thank you thank you thank you!

  20. WSE51 says:

    I experienced same problems, and the solution worked, thank you. I did notice when I control-clicked on the damaged iPhoto library and did “Show Package Contents” that all my photos appeared to be there, intact. The damaged library had a few photos which were imported after my last backup, and I was able to extract those photos without problem… which leads me to wonder if the damage caused by the faulty upgrade process was just to the directories rather than to the photos themselves. Its still bad, those directors contain the product of countless hours of my work organizing, tagging, and re-ordering my photos!

  21. Yesterday I tried the upgrade to iPhoto (9.1; I took care not to open iPhoto after the install disk procedure, but first ran software-update). iPhoto’s simple comment: ‘can not open this library’. Luckily I ran into this blog and let BatchMod do its work, without replacing the iPhoto Library first with a time machine back up. And it worked just like that.

    Great solution. Thank you ever so much.

  22. Irham Pradipta says:

    hello
    i followed all the step that you write above include using the Batchmod, but it still doesn’t work. iPhoto 11 said the iPhoto Library that i have doesn’t match. so i reinstall my old iPhoto 8.1, but it doesn’t work. after i install iPhoto 8.1, it said “You have made changes to your photo library using a newer version of iPhoto. Please quit and use the latest version of iPhoto”. then i try to fix my iPhoto library with Batchmod, but once again i tried open iPhoto, the same note come out. I have asked the Apple service and he said i should to reinstall my Macbook, sounds so creepy for me. So, freind can you help me?

    Thank you
    Irham

  23. Pablo says:

    As I heard about issues with iPhoto’11, I was waiting for it to be stable before installing.

    After Apple launching iPhoto as individual download in the shiny new Mac App Store, I decided to give a try. It is 9.1.1, so it should be more than tested…

    but after upgrading my Library and spending a few hours organizing faces, events, etc, when I tried to import new pictures it hanged.

    Since then, every time I open, it says I have to update the Photo Library AGAIN.

    It does, and lets me view the pics and use the software, but saves nothing that I do or change.

    And next time I open, it again says I have to update the Library.

    Running the batchmod trick is not helping, neither deleting the preferences file…

    Any help out there?

  24. Sara says:

    Hi Henry,

    you made my day perfect!!

    Without your great advice I would have been lost in the iPhoto *Jungle* today!
    Thank you ever so much!

    Sara

  25. Rob says:

    I tried to access the iPhoto library on my PowerBook G4 from my MacBook Air over wifi. It said the iPhoto Library database need updating to be able to view the pics so I pressed yes.
    Then I couldn’t open iPhoto on my PowerBook at all. And on my MacBook Air it would just hang saying it’s updating the database.

    So I force quit iPhoto on the MacBook Air and ran BatCHmod!

    It worked and I’m not even running an intel base Mac (PowerBook G4) or iPhoto 11 on it.

    So thanks a bunch!

  26. Aaron Thompson says:

    I updated iPhoto and the problem still existed. Luckily I saved my original library until I read this post! The Permissions utility fixed it, I now have all my places and Faces back. Way better than re-importing from your originals folder. Not to mention all the photos iPhoto deleted on me.

    Thanks!

  27. fresca says:

    iPhoto ’11 is a complete abomination. Months after its’ release, it still performs like a beta. Even after a clean install of Snow Leopard and a re-install of iLife ’11 from CD, it persists in in crashing and destroys the thumbnails nearly every time I use it. I suspect that it’s also correlated with the random shutdowns, as they only occur when iPhoto has been used.

    I’m furious that I wasted the money on iLife ’11 and madder still that Apple hasn’t addressed the problems. “Buy Aperture” isn’t a satisfactory solution.

  28. packrraat says:

    I WISH I had known about these problems BEFORE I bought the upgrade. I had only planned to upgrade the computer to Snow Leopard, but the Apple employee said I might have trouble with iPhoto since I was going through 2 upgrades. Now, every time I try to load pictures from the digital, the little wheel spins and spins and says iPhoto is not responding. I was better off with the old version. I am not computer literate enough to understand any of what you guys are saying.

  29. Anonymous says:

    Phew — all I can say is thank you so much. I’m not a fan of iphoto I lost my library a few years ago and I don’t trust it. As I hit the key to upgrade to ’11 I thought I was making an error — but too late everything was gone. But I found your blog and I’m, up and going again — so thank you thank you thank you

  30. I had a slightly different problem, but used your solution to fix it. Thanks. I had upgraded to iphoto11 a few months back and was having no problems. Just a few weeks ago, however, I could not get past the spinning beach ball when opening it up. I had no access to my photos. I couldn’t even get to them via Picassa, which I downloaded to put watermarks on my pics.

    I used Batchmod to fix the permissions of my library. Now iphoto works again. For some reason, though, I can’t see my most recent photos in iphoto. When I open Picassa, however, I see them all.

    I am seriously considering never using iphoto11 again. I’ll definitely donate to Batchmod.

  31. Stefano says:

    Thanks for the tips but it didn’t work for me. I have been trying to do this a bunch of times (I’ve got a previous library backup on an external drive) but everytime I do it I still have some “events” with corrupted pictures. Is it possible that by doing something wrong I messed the whole thing up?

    Of course every time I try and re-do it I use the library backup not the one converted by iPhoto.

    Is it possible that I have to delete some preference file before trying and do this for good?

  32. Add me to the list of folks this helped. I figured it was a permissions issue, but because of the nature of the iPhoto Library, Apple has made it particularly hard to repair the permissions. Thanks SO much! I had rebuilt my library twice and was about to prepare myself to resort and tag 10,000 plus photos all over again.

    Thanks for saving me the time.

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  34. Bram Bos says:

    Hi Henry,
    Thanks for your work to help people out on this iPhoto-upgrade nightmare. My experience with your solution was not successful however. I changed permissions with BatchMod on an untouched iPhoto 8.1.2 library, but iPhoto 9.2.1 (= iPhoto 11) still got stuck within half an hour with the spinning wheel. Activity Monitor did not reveal any real action afterwards.
    What *did* help me, however, was the iPhoto Library Manager from Fat Cat Software (http://www.fatcatsoftware.com/iplm/). It cost me $19.95, but drilled through 10.000+ photo’s and video’s in 4,5 hour flawlessly, rebuilding my library from scratch in a separate package file. Better still, it continuously provided me with feedback on what was going on, showing the pictures being imported in iPhoto. Afterwards you get a very concise log-file, including the missing photo’s and errors (which were very small).
    Thus, in my view iPhoto Library Manager provides a very good alternative to your solution.
    All the best
    Bram Bos (Netherlands)

  35. Anonymous says:

    Thank you. You are the best!!!

  36. Charity Miller says:

    Thank you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  37. tripleX says:

    I had an iPhoto Library (500MB) from iPhoto 8.1.2.
    When I updated iPhoto to iPhoto 9.2.2 (iLife ’11 and software-updates) I opened the iPhoto Library and it said it will update the Library. The iMac is used in a shop so I let the update continue in the background (black iPhoto-window with white spinning stripes) thinking it would certainly be finished the next day.
    But the next day I open the iPhoto Library it wants to update again and is spinning again for a long time.
    I tried the permissions-fix with BatChmod on a Library from backup but result was the same. I installed the new 9.2.3-update but result was the same.
    I could find ‘iPhotoMain.db’ but not ‘iPhotoMain.db.bak’ so I could not delete one and rename the other.
    I have to thank Bram Bos for his suggestion to use iPhoto Library Manager. It worked beautifully.
    First I thought I had to merge a new empty library with the existing library. That worked out great. But after reading the help-pages I realized that rebuilding with iPhoto Library Manager is very different from rebuilding with iPhoto. So I don’t have to merge libraries, just rebuild. I threw away the merged library.
    This is what I did next:
    • I copied the iPhoto Library from backup to my Pictures-folder.
    • I opened iPhoto Library Manager and selected the iPhoto Library.
    • I chose File-Rebuild Library…
    After 5 to 10 minutes I had a new iPhoto 9.2.3-library with all the photos, keywords, descriptions, etc., imported!

    Interesting facts from the help-pages: never have an ampersand (&) character in the path of an iPhoto Library. And be sure there are no invisible ‘null’ characters in the keywords. Like on the end of imported keywords. They mess up xml-files, what can result in strange behaviour of iPhoto.

  38. struggling says:

    I am facing other problems regarding iPhoto and as much as I admire the Mac for its simplicity if you run into a problem I wish it was a Windows OS… where everything is easy fixable.

  39. Jimbob says:

    ** Turn Time Machine off before doing this process! **

    We lost most of our pictures from this summer :-( Thanks, Apple. I restored the old library, fixed the permissions, and upgraded to 11. But most of the recent pictures were gone. I could have retrieved the old pictures from Time Machine, but it helpfully deleted all the old backups to make room for the restored library. Lesson learned: Don’t trust Apple with your photos, and turn off Time Machine during restore operations.

  40. Hi! I’m the author of BatChmod, the tool you recommend in step 1 :-) The updated link for BatChmod is not http://www.lagentesoft.com/batchmod in case someone is looking for it. Hope this helps!

  41. Karen says:

    Thank you for saving my photos! I tried the official apple fix, but it wouldn’t let me install 9.0.1. (Kept saying I need iPhoto 9) Luckily for me I hadn’t opened iPhoto 11 on my iMac, only on my lap top (i upgraded both at the same time!) so I followed your instructions and iMac is OK. Wish I could say the same for my laptop (which contained the most recent photos) but you can’t win em all! From now on I will read more info before I upgrade. Thank you so much :)

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  45. Mario Pauls says:

    To users of Mac OSX Mountain Lion (10.8.5) and iPhoto 11 (version 9.4.3)

    From the application iPhoto you attempt to print and return the error message:
    “No available themes located. Until one theme has been installed this feature will be unavailable”.
    I have read the forums and blogs and most are outdated and irrelevant. The most important message is to delete iPhoto 11 and then re-install.

    IMPORTANTLY: If you CAN create a book or calendar then your ‘Themes’ are available. Try it.

    My experience was that if iPhoto 11 was installed before any printers were installed, the printers are not recognised. The error message :“no available themes located. Until one theme has been installed this feature will be unavailable” is a generic message in response to a print error but not literally correct. Not correct if you CAN create a book or calendar.

    WHY?

    IGNORE the complex explanations and suggestions to locate and delete library files and receipt folders. This is probably outdated and irrelevant for your Mac version.

    DO delete iPhoto from your ‘Applications’ folder and reinstall from the Mac App Store. Don’t begrudge the small fee requested. If you have paid the fee already, the website will give you a free download.

    Be sure to backup important iPhoto libraries and make copies of libraries that will be rewritten by iPhoto 11.

    The themes, printing options and general iPhoto experience will be satisfying for you.

  46. Michelle says:

    I’m having a problem with iPhoto 11 that I just got around to installing on my laptop OS X 10.9 last week. It deleted my Facebook exporter plugin. I was going to simply reinstall the plugin, however, it goes through the entire installation process….it acts like it is installing, but when I try to export a photo, the Facebook exporter button is not there like it should be. I know the new iPhoto comes with a Facebook share feature, but I don’t like that one nearly as much…..I really really like the plugin better….I just can not figure out how to get it reinstalled! Help!

  47. Brilliant, worked a treat!
    Migrating from ’08 to ’11, thought I’d lost all my photos but then restored them from backup and changed the permissions with BatChmod.
    Thank you for your guidance.

  48. Michelle Feehan says:

    Hi – I have recently upgraded to iPhoto 9.5.1 (which I think is part of iLife 11?? – via the app store) – I don’t believe I have lost any photos – but the “names” I had previously (meticulously) added to faces, especially scanned photos seem to have all disappeared! Is this typical?

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