Export iPhoto library to a folder structure
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Exports an iPhoto library to a folder structure, optionally writing metadata to the copies.

This script has been tested with iPhoto 8.1.2 (from iLife '09); other versions may or may not work.

Originally written by Derrick Childers and posted to macosxhints. Modifications by Guillaume Boudreau, Brian Morearty, Mark Nottingham, Duoglas Du, Avinash Meetoo, and J.G. Field


Run Terminal and enter this command:

curl https://raw.github.com/BMorearty/exportiphoto/master/exportiphoto.py > exportiphoto.py

This copies exportiphoto.py to your Home folder. Actually you can put it anywhere you want.


  1. Run this:

     python exportiphoto.py [options] "iPhoto-Library-dir" "destination-dir"

    See example below.

    Options include:

     -a, --albums      use albums instead of events
     -m, --metadata    write metadata to images
     -f, --faces       store faces as keywords (requires -m)
     -q, --quiet       use quiet mode
     -d, --date        stop using date prefix in folder name
     -x, --deconflict  deconflict export directories of same name (without
                       this, two events with the same name on the same date
                       are merged.)
     -y, --yeardir     add year directory to output
     -e DATE_DELIMITER, --date_delimiter=DATE_DELIMITER
                       date delimiter default=-
     -i, --import      import missing albums from dest directory
     -z IMPORT_FROM_DATE, --import_from_date=IMPORT_FROM_DATE
                       only import missing folers if folder date occurs after
                       (YYYY-MM-DD). Uses date in folder name.
     -t, --test        dont actually copy files or import folders
  2. There is no step 2

Note that the -m flag is only available if extra libraries are installed; see below.

If you are facing encoding problems like "UnicodeEncodeError", try -q flag to stop the console output;


By default, exportiphoto exports Events. It can export Albums instead; use the -a option on the command line.

It creates a separate folder on disk for each event. Every folder is prefixed by the event date in this format: yyyy-mm-dd (because this format is sortable by name) unless you use the -d option. If the event has a name it is appended to the end of the folder name.


Let's say you have the following events in iPhoto--two unnamed and one named:

Jun 10, 2009
Charlie's Birthday Party
Jun 20, 2009


python exportiphoto.py "$HOME/Pictures/iPhoto Library/" "$HOME/iPhoto Export"

If Charlie's birthday party was on June 15th, the output folders will be:

2009-06-15 Charlie's Birthday Party

If you set the -d option to turn off the prepended date, the folder names will be:

Jun 10, 2009
Charlie's Birthday Party
Jun 20, 2009

Writing Metadata

If pyexiv2 is installed, exportiphoto can write iPhoto metadata into images as they're exported, with the -m option. Currently, it writes:

  • iPhoto image name to Iptc.Application2.Headline
  • iPhoto description to Iptc.Application2.Caption
  • iPhoto keywords to Iptc.Application2.Keywords
  • iPhoto rating to Xmp.xmp.Rating

See below for information on installing pyexiv2.

NOTE: if you see messages like this:

Error: Directory Canon with 1100 entries considered invalid; not read.

you can safely ignore them; they indicate a problem reading the metadata already in the file. Installing a newer version of pyexiv2 should fix this (as of this writing, it's fixed in the repository, but not released).

Installing pyexiv2

Unfortunately, there is no easy way to install pyexiv2, but if you have MacPorts http://macports.org/, it's relatively simple; follow these steps to set up:

sudo port install scons
sudo port install exiv2
sudo port install boost +python26

Then, after downloading Pyexiv2 http://tilloy.net/dev/pyexiv2/ and changing into its source directory:

export CXXFLAGS="-I/opt/local/include"
export LDFLAGS="-L/opt/local/lib -lpython2.6"
sudo scons install
cd /opt/local/Library/Frameworks/Python.framework/Versions/2.6/lib/python2.6/site-packages/
sudo mv libexiv2python.dylib libexiv2python.so

Note that you'll have to use python2.6 to run the script; e.g.,

python2.6 exportiphoto ...