PC Doctor May 30, 2014

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Dear PC Doctor:
I was just adding some very special pictures to my computer when a big and scary message popped up on my screen.  It says "Your photo library is damaged or unreadable and cannot be opened.” Aack!  Now, when I try to open iPhoto, it goes straight to this screen and the only option I am given is to choose “Quit.” What can I do?  Are my pictures all gone?  I am so sad and a little bit freaked out.

      Signed, George

P.S. It is iPhoto ‘09 version 8 on a macbook. Thanks!

Dear George:
Wow. What a scare.  Fortunately, it’s probably not as awful as you fear.

First, find your “All Images” folder.  You can do that by clicking on the desktop so your finder is open.  Click “File.” Click “Find.” You will see a list of folders and other choices on the left-hand side of the screen.  One of them will be called “All Images.” If you click on that, all of your photos that you ever loaded into iPhoto should eventually show up on the larger window on the right.  This may take time, depending on the size of your photo library.  Phew!  Now that you know your photos still exist on your computer, here is a fix to try.

iPhoto includes a feature that allows you to rebuild the iPhoto library.  Sometimes rebuilding the library may resolve issues such as the library appearing to be unreadable, missing photos, or other issues related to reading the iPhoto library structure.

You should back up your existing iPhoto Library before using the rebuild feature.  A backup allows you to restore the iPhoto Library if anything unexpected happens during the rebuild that prevents the library from rebuilding correctly.

Before rebuilding, you should install any iPhoto updates by using Software Update. If a software update resolves your issue, then you don't need to rebuild.  It's also a good idea to search Apple's support page for your specific iPhoto symptom before doing a rebuild, just in case there is a more specific solution.

To rebuild the iPhoto library:
Quit iPhoto if it is open.  Hold down the Command and Option keys on the keyboard.  Open iPhoto.  Keep the keys held down until you are prompted to rebuild the library.  A dialog box will appear with rebuild options.  Select the options you want to use.

Click Rebuild to begin the rebuild process.  This may take a few minutes to complete.

Select the option(s) to rebuild thumbnails only if the thumbnails appear to be an issue (gray, blank, missing or mismatched).  Select the option to recover orphaned photos if photos appear to be missing from the iPhoto library.  iPhoto will examine the library folder for any photos that are not currently being displayed in Albums or Events in the iPhoto source list.

Select the option to examine and repair iPhoto Library file permissions if it appears that you cannot edit certain photos or if the iPhoto library will not open.  Select the option to "Rebuild the iPhoto Library Database from automatic backup" if iPhoto unexpectedly quits when opened or does not get past loading photos.  Note that any "recovered" photos may not appear in their original albums.  However, they should appear in the newly created "Recovered Photos" album.

I do wish you success!

Until next time… Happy Computing!

      PC Doctor