Is there a practical limit for a photo library?

My photo library on the Mac is approaching 575 Gb.

I was told by a Mac Creative at one point a couple years ago that it was not good to let her photo library get much bigger than 500 GB.

I’m trying to track it a lot more closely now, but I do feel like some of the photos I’ve taken on my iPhone do not end up on my Mac. I am monitoring it now.

If you do need to split your photo libraries, how do you then use multiple libraries to display them on your Apple TV.

I am about to embark on converting my slide library to Digital format I would like to display them digitally and more locations , but I worry about having to create four or five photo libraries of 500 GB and having to manage between them.

A friend of mine who is a professional photographer suggested considering other applications like Dark Room. He also mentioned another one which I can’t remember off the top of my head .

Could you have a 4 TB Library, and if you could, would you recommend it as I’m sure backing it up would become an issue.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Do you mean your Photos app library, or are you referring to a more general folder of photos?

Assuming you mean a Photos library, I know people here have used PowerPhotos, which allows easy management of several photo albums. I tested it a while ago and liked it, but my Photos library size does not warrant it. I tend to use it just for iPhone photos.

With a library that size and the fact that you are looking to add more, I would rethink your strategy. I think I would be looking to develop a folder structure that separates your photos in some organised manner, Then I would suggest that you look at cataloguing software (Lightroom-esque) or editing software that allows you to use folders. I use RAWpower and
Pixelmator pro and a folder structure - but there are a lot of others to choose from.

Others here will offer more up-to-date knowledge, but I think your friend is correct - a 500GB database library for photos is asking for trouble.

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I would separate the storage of the photo files into a nice neat structure of folders from the cataloging of those files. I use Lightroom for cataloging and have the actual photo files out on our NAS server for easy access but also backed up various places. Dark Room is another cataloging option.

There’s not a practical size as far as I know. The library itself is a package and each photo is stored as a separate file. There is a metadata database Photos uses to manage everything (~/Pictures/Photos Library.photoslibrary/database/Photos.sqlite) and this can get quite large – many GB for a very large file. Time machine does not backup the entire sqlite file as you’d be copying a large file constantly – it backs up only a snapshot of the changes that Photos can use to reconstruct the library. If you do your own backup, this is something to consider as the snapshot feature is part of Time Machine.

That said, I recommend keep the library to a manageable size (I use iCloud to sync all my devices so this is another consideration). One way to do that is to use Power Photos as @Nick suggested to keep multiple libraries. I do something similar to store “pre iPhone” scanned photos. You can do this without Power Photos (simply hold down Option while starting Photos and you can create a second library) but Power Photos allows you to copy photos between libraries, etc. The downside is that if you use iCloud the photos in the alternate libraries are not synced to each device.

As others have suggested, using a more powerful Digital Asset Management tool like Lightroom or Adobe Bridge might be better. I prefer to keep everything in Photos because it’s easy and does offer some nice features like face detection, object and scene detection, etc.