Fix: Unable to write to library iPhoto Library

Apple’s iPhoto is an application used to manage photos. It is used to edit photos, organize them, import and share them. It is a great tool for photos management, and came built in every Mac personal computer from 2002 until 2015 when it was replaced by Photos application in OS X Yosemite. All the photos imported through iPhoto are stored in user’s iPhoto library which can be on their hard disks or on an external hard drive.

Some users have reported getting different type errors while accessing their iPhoto libraries, such as Unable to write to library” or “The iPhoto Library is locked”. For some, that error(s) never appeared again, but for others they became a permanent headache. Mostly, these errors have known to appear on iPhoto libraries that are on external drives and have been accessed by more than one Mac users. Also it can be due to low free disk space on your Mac. Below we have listed the solutions for the above mentioned issues that have worked for users all around.

Solution 1: Ownership Conflict on External Drives

If your iPhoto Library resides on an external drive accessed by multiple Mac users, there can be a conflict of permissions on that drive disabling a certain user to access it. To correct this factor, connect the drive to your Mac.

Open the Finder application. On the left pane, Click and Highlight the external hard drive you connected that has the troublesome iPhoto library.

Now Click on File on the top menu bar. Click Get Info from the drop down menu.

A dialog will appear. On the bottom of that dialog, Place a Check next to Ignore ownership on this volume. Then close the dialog.

ignore ownership on this volume

Now check if the issue resolved. If not, move on to the next solution.

Solution 2: Check for Free Space

If the drive that has the iPhoto library is running out of free space, then this can be the reason you’re getting those errors while accessing it.

To make sure that’s not the case, open the Finder window and in the left pane, Click on the target Disk to highlight it.

Now click on File on the top menu and click Get Info from the drop down menu.

In the General section, you can see the free space left on your hard drive next to Available. If it is considerably low (Less than 500 MB), delete junk and duplicate files and make some space. As a thumb rule, 10% space should be empty on a hard drive. So it is recommended to you have at least 10% free space on your hard drive. click here for an animated gif on how to do this.

After you free up some space, Reboot your Mac and check if the issue resolved with the library. If not, move on to the next solution.

Solution 3: Repair iPhoto Library

Corrupted database or other metadata of a iPhoto library is known to cause issues such as these. To repair those, follow the steps below.

Quit iPhoto if it is running. Now Press and Hold both the Command key and the Option key on your keyboard simultaneously. While keeping them pressed, open iPhoto.

Keep the keys pressed until Rebuild Photo Library dialog appears. In the dialog, Place a Check next to Repair the iPhoto Library Database and click Rebuild.


Follow the onscreen instructions.

After the process completes, check if the issue resolved.

Do let us know which one of the solutions worked for you.


Kevin Arrows

Kevin Arrows is a highly experienced and knowledgeable technology specialist with over a decade of industry experience. He holds a Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist (MCTS) certification and has a deep passion for staying up-to-date on the latest tech developments. Kevin has written extensively on a wide range of tech-related topics, showcasing his expertise and knowledge in areas such as software development, cybersecurity, and cloud computing. His contributions to the tech field have been widely recognized and respected by his peers, and he is highly regarded for his ability to explain complex technical concepts in a clear and concise manner.