Fixed – Unable to Write to iPhoto Library

Unable to restore iphoto library ? No issues just sit back and relax this free guide will tell you about how to fix the iphoto library issue.

The ‘iPhoto’ application in Apple is a great tool to manage your photos. You can edit, organize, share and import photos using this app. Photos that are imported from the iPhoto app are stored in an iPhoto library. This library can be stored on your Mac or a storage device such as an external hard drive.

Although iPhoto is a useful app, you can sometimes encounter problems while using it. Users complain about errors such as ‘The iPhoto Library is locked’ or ‘Unable to write to iPhoto library. Check that you have permission to write to the library directory’.

This is a common error that mainly occurs due to permission issues in the drive where the library is saved or due to corruption in the library. Let us go through the various reasons why the iPhoto library has stopped working.

Why isn’t My iPhoto Library Working on my Mac?

The corruption of the iPhoto library can be a harrowing experience that leaves you feeling anxious and panicking. Here are a few reasons behind the iPhoto library is locked:

Accessing on multiple devices: When you are trying to access the iPhoto library from multiple devices, might lead to this error. You need to close the iPhoto library on other devices before you can access iPhoto on your current device.

Ownership dispute: It is possible that there is a permission dispute on an external drive that is shared by many Mac users. This prevents other users or devices from accessing your iPhoto library.

Mac OS Update issue: You’re likely to run into iPhoto library problems if your Mac OS has not been updated for quite some time. Most problems are resolved by updating your Mac OS.

Running out of free space: The reason your iPhoto library might have become locked could be that the drive on which it is kept is running out of free space.

How do I Unlock my iPhoto Library?

We have summarized below all of the solutions that have been useful for the users in solving the ‘Unable to write to iPhoto library’ or ‘The iPhoto Library is locked’.

Solution 1: Fix Permission Issues

Permission issues may occur when the iPhoto library is stored on an external hard drive and the library is accessed from different accounts. To resolve this problem, you can follow the steps below.

  1. Connect your external hard drive which contains the iPhoto library to your Mac
  2. Open Finder and select your external hard drive
  3. Click on File menu > Get Info
  4. In the dialogue box that appears, check the box ‘ Ignore ownership on this volume ’ at the bottom

Checking ‘ Ignore ownership on this volume ’ will allow you to access files on the drive even if it has been written into using a different account. Now check if your issue is solved. Move on to the next solution, if you still continue to get the same error again. 

Solution 2: Rebuild iPhoto Library

Photos Library First Aid tool allows you to repair as well as rebuild the photos library database. Below are the 4 options provided by the tool and only one option can be selected at a time. You can select as per your problem:

  • Repair Permissions: Select this option, if the iPhoto library doesn’t open or receive an error that says ‘the iPhoto Library is locked’. Usually, it is preferred to start the repair process with this option.
  • Rebuild Thumbnails: Select this option, when you see grey boxes on an image file or if the thumbnails in iPhoto don’t show up correctly.
  • Repair Database: Select this option, if the iPhoto library is abruptly behaving with missing images.
  • Rebuild Database: Select this option, if iPhoto unexpectedly quits, can’t load, iPhoto hangs on importing photos, or the database is completely unreadable. 

Steps to rebuild Photos Library:

  1. Close Photos app by selecting Photos and clicking on Quit Photos.
  2. Open the Application folder and find the iPhoto app. 
  3. Now hold down the Option and Command key and click on the iPhoto app. Hold the keys until iPhoto loads and you see the dialog box of Photo Library First Aid.
  4. Select the Repair Permissions option and click Repair.

Solution 3: Fix Corruption in the iPhoto Library Database

Corruption in the library’s database is also one of the main reasons for this error. Thus, repairing corruption in the library will help you resolve the error in most cases.

But before you begin with the steps below, make sure you have a backup of all files in the library as you may lose data.

Steps to repair iPhoto library:

  1. Press Command + Option keys and open the iPhoto
  2. Hold the keys until the Rebuild library dialogue box opens
  3. In the dialogue box that opens, click on the Repair iPhoto library database option to fix corruption in the library database and select Rebuild.

Once the repair process completes, check if the error is resolved. If this doesn’t help, you can also try other options in the Rebuild Photo library dialogue box.

In some cases, you may have forgotten to backup photos before performing a repair of the iPhoto library or some of your photos may be missing due to corruption in the library. In such cases, if you need to recover your lost photos, Yodot Mac Photo Recovery is your best choice.


For a detailed guide on the recovery process, refer recover photos from corrupted iPhoto library. Download a trial version of the software and see how easy data recovery can get!


  • Maintain multiple backup copies of your vital files
  • Don’t add, delete or change the file structure of your iPhoto library outside of iPhoto. It can corrupt your Photo Library making it inaccessible