How to Rebuild Your iPhoto Library (iLife ’06)

This is more of a quick tip, just in case you start having the same problem that I did.

I made a mistake recently where I pulled out my compact flash card before the iPhoto import was complete. Instead of handling this gracefully, I ended up with a bunch of images in iPhoto where the thumbnails don’t display. Instead, I get a bunch of white boxes with grey dashed-line borders.

Searching the web, I found out that other people who had this problem were able to solve it by rebuilding their iPhoto Library. Unfortunately, Apple changed the super-secret command key combination to do this between iPhoto 4 and iPhoto 5, and there is no help documentation on it.

Still, for those who are curious, here is the answer:

iPhoto 4: When launching iPhoto, hold down the Shift and Option keys.

iPhoto 5 & 6: When launching iPhoto, hold down the Option & Command keys.

Interestingly enough, if you hold down Shift & Option keys at launch, you can tell iPhoto 6 to use a different library folder… pretty nifty if you wanted to maintain different libraries for some reason.

Here is the web page where I finally found the answer. Looks like this guy wrote a clever “iPhoto Extractor” application based on his experiences with this problem.

One thought on “How to Rebuild Your iPhoto Library (iLife ’06)

  1. Many thanks for this. Looking up command+option in Google I then found the Apple support page which has this to say about the commands you’ll presented with when you boot up iPhoto 6.

    * Select the option(s) for thumbnails if only the thumbnails are appearing in unexpected ways (grey or blank).
    * Select the “Rebuild the iPhoto Library database” option if iPhoto unexpectedly quits when launched or does not get past loading photos.
    * Select the option to recover orphaned photos if photos appear to be missing from the iPhoto library.

    I was a bit miffed as to why one would want to rebuild the library and this answered it.

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