Find, fix, and delete corrupt iPhoto images

Thrice-named reader Rene Linda Lopez would like some help with her iPhoto images. She writes:

How can I find and fix or delete corrupt image files in my iPhoto library?

Let’s start by locating your files.

By default, iPhoto stores your pictures here:

youruserfolder /Pictures/iPhoto Library/ year / month / day where year/month/day equals something along the lines of folders named 2005, 12, and 30 to represent pictures made on December 30, 2005. If you’ve edited any images made that day, you’ll find the edited versions in the date folder and the original images in a folder called Originals.

If luck is on your side, the corrupt image is one you’ve edited. In such a case, you can select the corrupt image in iPhoto and choose Photos > Revert to Original. As the command hints, this replaces the edited version with the original, which you are then free to reedit. If iPhoto doesn’t have the wherewithal to revert to that image, you can always try reimporting the thing from the Originals folder that houses it.

Before tossing images that won’t behave, I attempt to open them in a different application. For example, some .jpg files I work with refuse to open in Preview but will open in Photoshop. If you can successfully open the image in another application, put the Save As command to good use and create a copy.

If the image won’t be opened for love nor money, you’re not completely out of luck. You still have a tiny copy of the image in the date folder’s Thumbs folder. It’s small consolation, I know, but in cases where you’ve lost a picture you treasure, sometimes a little is better than nothing.

To delete that corrupt image, just select it in iPhoto and choose Photos > Move to Trash.

And if you’re a pack-rat who doesn’t take a lot of pictures, check your media cards to see if the image remains there. Or if you’ve got an iPod with video, perhaps you’ve stored a copy on it. Count yourself blessed if you’ve switched on the Include Full-Resolution Photos option in the Photos portion of the iPod Preferences window. If you have, just rummage around in the iPod’s Photos folder to find your image. If you haven’t enabled this option, you can use Echo One Software’s $8 File Juicer to extract images from an iPod.

Finally, if a lot of your images appear to have gone south (or have disappeared), it may be because iPhoto’s library needs some attention. You can give it that attention by rebuilding the library and recovering orphan photos from the library. To do so, hold down Command and Option and launch the program. A dialog box will appear that offers you the option to rebuild iPhoto’s small thumbnails, rebuild all the photos’ thumbnails, rebuild the iPhoto Library database, and recover orphaned photos from the iPhoto Library folder.

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