How to Expand iPhoto With iPhoto Library Manager

Do you consider yourself to be an aspiring photographer, slinging your DSLR everywhere you go? If you, like me, are building up a bigger and bigger library of photos, organization can get a bit crazy.

With the current iPhoto software, it has become much easier to manage the thousands of photos on our computer, organizing by faces, places and events. However, would having multiple iPhoto libraries be a benefit? In this how-to, I will take a look at iPhoto Library Manager, which aims to provide a simple way to control multiple iPhoto libraries on one computer.

Getting Started

Back in the day, when I first switched to Mac, iPhoto was a lot more basic that it is now. It was difficult managing the hundreds or thousands of photos that I wanted to have in my computer, and for that reason, Fat Cat Software came out with iPhoto Library Manager.

This simple application allows you to control multiple photo libraries on your Mac, all within one account and easily switch between these libraries. Instead of opening iPhoto to access a photo, you would open this software and select the library that you wanted to open.

The Main Window

The Main Window

iPhoto Library Manager allows you to view Albums and how many photos are in each major category within iPhoto. You can also sort by Events if you have a newer version of iLife that supports this photo management technique. In the main window you also have the ability to quickly see where the library is stored. There are quick options to create or add an existing library to the applications list of possible versions of iPhoto to open.

Sync and Import

iPhoto Library Manager also allows you control which libraries sync with your iPod or iPhone. In iTunes you are only able to sync with the current active library. To get around this, iPhoto LIbrary Manager will copy the selected Albums, Events and Photos into another folder that you can point iTunes to access. However, this also means you are storing multiple copies of the photo on your computer, inside the iPhoto library itself and inside this special “iPod Folder.” This is obviously a concern for those without terabytes of hard drive space.

iPod Folders

iPod Folders

iPhoto Library Manager also allows you to import directly into multiple libraries from one camera, without opening and managing the import process directly from iPhoto. However, the software does not directly communicate with iPhones. It requires having access to the camera’s storage chip to see the exact files it will be importing.

Managing Libraries

Fat Cat’s software does allow you to duplicate iPhoto Libraries, and split them into multiple libraries. This way, if you have always used one library to manage all of your photos, you can use this software to break apart the library into smaller versions. Similarly, you can also merge smaller libraries into one bigger version.

The File Menu

The File Menu

Library permissions are also controlled within the software, allowing you to share multiple photo libraries across the same computer, between different user accounts – something not available with iPhoto alone.


Should one of your photo libraries become corrupted or inoperable, the software is able to attempt to extract the photos stored within the bad collection.

I wasn’t able to test this feature, but I personally wouldn’t rely heavily on any “First Aid” feature of any software that says it can repair and restore lost photos.

Backing up your data will prevent many headaches (and tears) in the future.

How Well Does the Process Work?

While I personally don’t need a way to manage multiple libraries, I can see it’s benefits. That said, you could simply hold the Option key while launching iPhoto to have it create another library. I also found it annoying when I tried to access photos from a Media Browser within another iLife or iWork application. It would only be able to access photos from the library that was most recently opened.

With the advent of several advances to iPhoto that make organization much easier, iPhoto Library Manager isn’t as needed as it was when it was first released. If you are hesitant to upgrade to more recent versions of iPhoto, or can’t due to the age of your Mac, this app may be perfect.

For more up-to-date users, I wouldn’t recommend it. Instead I suggest using more advanced photo management software if you are really trying to organize that many pictures: Aperture and Adobe Photoshop Lightroom are both excellent options.

How do you manage the deluge of JPGs? Do you think iPhoto Library Manager would fit into your photography workflow?