How to stop Photos from creating duplicate files in Mac OS X

BY Osas Obaizamomwan

Published 13 May 2015

Apple said goodbye to iPhoto and replaced it with the aptly named Photos app for OS X Yosemite. The new app does all the things that iPhoto did, but with a new interface and some new features. If you use your computer to store and manage your images, the Photos app will make a copy of anything you import, making finding those items extremely easy. However, in some cases, this means that there will be a duplicate version of the same image on your computer (the original and the copied Photos app image). If you are really particular about your photo management and want to disable this feature I’ll show you how.

How to Stop Photos Copying Images & Creating Duplicate Files in Mac OS X

Changing the default method for the Photos app is not for everyone. In fact, it’s probably for a small number of more advanced users that would rather use the internal file system to organize their items in their original locations. Basically, if you are haven’t noticed a dent in your storage, regularly import photos from your iPad or iPhone, or aren’t sure where to find your images without the Photos app, you should leave the setting alone. For those of you that don’t want Photos to makes copies of your images you can disable the option in seconds.

Step 1.
Back up all of your photos and videos. Anytime you are changing Settings, it is wise to back up your items, especially photos and videos.

Step 2.
Open the Photos app and select Preferences from the menu or type Command + comma.  Photos - Preferences

Step 3.
In the following menu, next to “Importing”, uncheck the box for “Copy items to the Photos Library”.
Photo Library - Copy

You will still be able to use the Photos app, but you will have to manually import items from whatever source or device they came from each time.

If you have iPhoto on an older Mac, you can find this option in iPhoto Menu -> Preferences -> Advanced and uncheck the box for “Copy items to the iPhoto Library”.

Again, be sure that you know why you are unchecking this box. For average users, you always want to leave this box checked. Photos and iPhoto make it super easy to find, import, and manage your photos by creating duplicates of the original to be stored in its database for easy access. Unchecking this box disabled that function, and allows for more freedom to manage your files, and keeps the originals located wherever you place them. This means that you will need to manage all your photos yourself and keep track of where the photos are on your Mac. If you are still confused, check out this great user comment on the pros and cons of copying items to the Photos or iPhoto library.

Let us know if this option works for you and why you think it may or may not work for other. We are very interested in hearing your opinion!