How to Transfer Photos From a Macbook Hard Drive to an External Hard Drive

Updated July 20, 2017

There are a couple of easy ways to move photos from your MacBook's hard drive to an external drive. If you have been taking advantage of iPhoto, your job is already half done because all you have to do is copy the iPhoto Library and reconfigure iPhoto for the new location. Thankfully, transferring photos manually is just as easy. Before beginning, it is best to consolidate the photos you would like to transfer into clearly labelled folders.

Attach the external hard drive to your MacBook and turn the power on.

Quit iPhoto if it is running.

Locate the iPhoto Library. By default, the library can be found in the Pictures folder of a user's Home folder.

Select the iPhoto Library and drag it to the desired folder on the external drive. The transfer time and speed will vary on the size of your iPhoto Library.

Hold the "option" key and open iPhoto.

Click "Choose Library" and navigate to the iPhoto Library copy you placed in the external hard drive. Click "Open."

Attach the external hard drive to your MacBook and turn the power on.

Locate the folder or folders where your photos are located. Many cameras and import programs automatically download pictures to the Pictures folder, located in a user's Home folder.

Select folder (or folders) and drag them to the external hard drive.


Determine the sizes of your iPhoto Library or photo folders before beginning the transfer. This will prevent unnecessary space-related failures.

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About the Author

Dan Gaunt is a writer in Birmingham, Ala., who focuses on food, travel, and technology. His work has appeared in Cottage Living magazine, Food Arts, and Thicket magazine.