Running out of disk space

I used to use various computers in the past, and most of the times when I got a new computer, I moved over the photos from the previous computer, and carried on. A year or so ago, I last did this when I upgraded from my 2016 iMac to a 2018 Mac Mini with a 1-TB solid state drive. I also moved most of my huge video files and data to an external drive.

As of today, my 1-TB built-in drive has a whole 1 GB of free space. Something needs to be done. My current plan is to buy a 4-TB external (high quality) Western Digital drive, and copy almost of the 385 GB of photos from my “Pictures” folder to a similar folder on my new external drive. This will free up 1/3 of the space on my internal drive, and I can use my large Time Machine drive to back up both the computer, and this new external drive.

I know Lightroom will get confused - I’ll need to teach it where all the old Lightroom folders got moved to. I’ll mostly need to deal with PhotoLab, DarkTable, and my other editors.

I thought it would be a good idea to ask now if there are any special things I need to do to keep PhotoLab happy, as most of the files it “knows” will now be on this new drive.

I also thought that with all the new cameras being released that capture 50 to 100 megs from every image, a lot of other people are going to need to deal with this in the not-too-far-off future.

Is there a way to modify this in Projects? I haven’t used it yet (I use small folders) but recall reading about it in the manual.

Good idea, but who should be the happy one? You or PhotoLab?

Before advising about how to move, we need to know more:

  • Did you add any keywords in PhotoLab versions before 5.0?
  • Have all your image files been seen by PhotoLab 5?
  • Does every image file have an associated .dop file written by PL5?

If your answers are no, yes and yes, moving the photo archive is fairly straightforward. If your answers are anything but no, yes, yes, it’s going to be more complicated…

If PhotoLab is happy, I will be happy. :slight_smile:

The only keywords are from Lightroom, which I can eventually fix, as it won’t know where any of the files are until I do the needful - I used to know how to do it, can learn again, and if I can’t do it at all, that’s one more reason to dump Lightroom. There may be some keywords from PhotoMechanic, but I never got that set up properly. So, basically, NO.

The only photos that PhotoLab has seen are those since I originally got PL3, then PL4, and now PL5. A huge amount of files are from before I started to use PhotoLab. Considering how old some images are, the answer here has to be NO, as PhotoLab hasn’t seen ALL my files.

“Every” is a strong word. There may be files that I created long ago in other versions of PhotoLab, but if I need to re-do those (should I ever go back to those files) that’s OK too. Even for the newer photos, if I never actually edited every one of them in PhotoLab, as far as I know, there would not be a .dop file, so the answer to your question is NO.

If you’re okay with having to re-edit, copy what you got to the external drive, delete the database (keep a copy) and let PL5 index the new photo archive.

If the image and the .dop file are next to each other, why would I need to re-edit?

Should I move the image from within PhotoLab, if it allows me to do that?

If an edited file has no .dop sidecar, edits will be lost when the new location is indexed.

Moving the files within the app is a good idea, because it can then keep up with the changes. I’m simply not too confident that large changes will work in PL without hiccups. That is why I recommend to create a new database.

BTW, Lightroom is easy to get up again. Check out for details.

All images edited in PhotoLab will have their .dop files in place, and all of this will be moved to a similar folder on the new drive. Once PhotoLab finds where the files are, it should find the editing information. If this isn’t true, I’m in trouble.

Simple question - if I were to move ONE folder on my computer to a new location, how would I tell PhotoLab where it is? I read long ago that if I change files and folders on my computer, PhotoLab will see this.

Yes, for what you just wrote about Lightroom. I’ll worry about that later. I haven’t opened LightRoom in about a year…

If you hold your horses, I can possibly test a few things tomorrow.

This is true and you are not in trouble.

Simply move your files and point PL to them. From what I remember you saying a while ago, you don’t use the database, therefore, if you only rely on DOP files for image edits, you will be just fine.

Mac PhotoLab 5 allows us to drag images to whatever folder is present in the sidebar in PhotoLibrary view. This will bring along both sidecars, if they exist.

There is no provision to move entire folders or folder structures though, which means that moving thousands of images is, let’s say, quite boring. Looking at what PL provides on Win in this area, I suppose that a future release will provide moves, not only of files, but of folders too. Until then, you might consider moving files that you don’t need every day and that are not tied to a database. You can still put new image files on the new drive and move the old folders later.

Thank you for the confirmation.

My goal currently is to remove my Time Machine drives, and then to move everything currently in my “Pictures” folder on my Mac Mini into a sub-folder on my 4TB drive, likely named something like “_Pictures Pre-2022”. My “Pictures” folder on the Mac Mini will then be empty, and I’ll start out over again, almost certainly with next year’s photos going into a folder named “_2022”.

Another goal is to start using PhotoMechanicPlus for data management.

Lightroom I will update (supposed to be easy) to the new file locations.

DarkTable is still a question mark, but since those sidecar files will be in the same folder as the images, it can’t be too complicated.

This is the information on my Pictures folder as of this morning. Moving the entire folder to the new location will probably take a very long time, but I will “know” where everything is, just as well as I know that today. I figure I might as well get it over with in one massive mood.
Screen Shot 2021-12-24 at 07.15.20

If I’m smart, I will use the _2022 folder for one year, and start again with a _2023 folder the following year. I wish I had started doing this ten years ago, but I wasn’t planning ahead. :woozy_face:

Almost 40% of your drive is filled with “Pictures”. This means that there are at least the same amount of uncritical files that could be moved away without compromising any database.

You’ll get the best performance on your internal ssd, so why not move the less demanding things out of the way instead?

Wow… Brilliant suggestion. You have completely changed my plans. I have a program named “Daisy Disk” that allows me to drill down into my file structure and see how my space is being used:

Entire Drive:

Me (user “mikemyers”)

My “Movies” folder:

Obviously, as you have suggested, I can copy my entire “Movies” folder to a different drive, accomplishing the same end result. Since I don’t do all that much work with video, I very much prefer what you have suggested. My movie editing is done with Apple’s Final Cut Pro, so I’ll check with them as to what changes I need to make there.

Brilliant idea! Thank you!!

@mikemyers As you have Photo Mechanic Plus, did you know that you can ingest photos from a directory on one drive to another drive and also arrange them into YEAR folders as you are looking to do.

If you want some help let me know.

No, I wasn’t aware of that, but unless PhotoMechanic also kept the .dop files together with the originals, I don’t think this would help.

If PhotoMechanic can create folders arranging many of my old photos by YEAR, that might be useful.

My memory has always been so-so, and over time I lose track of things. My most useful computers pre-Mac were a Lenovo W530 laptop, and a huge desktop. I switched to Apple slowly, and when I finally more or less retired the Lenovo, I created a folder with ALL my images from the Lenovo, and copied that to my Mac laptop. As I’ve upgraded Mac computers, I kept that folder, and it’s now on my Mac Mini with 150 gigs of my past photography. Just moving that one folder out of my Mini will free up more than enough space. When I gave up on my old Windows Desktop, I created an external drive with ALL the photos that had been created over the years, as I moved to bigger and better computers. I also have that folder on an external drive, which hopefully is a complete set of my photography since I started to use computers.

I had a long discussion with an Apple Technician from their “Creative Media Professional Video” department. He did two things for me - he explained that their department will help me move my old video storage from where it is now, onto one of the two 4TB Western Digital drive that are on order. I’ll do that early next week, and if it moves just 300 gigs of old video, that will free up that much space on my Mini solid state storage. I see no reason not to move the 150 gigs of old photos from my Lenovo at the same time, which will result in freeing up almost half of my 1 TB Mac Mini drive.

He also explained how I’m making a big mistake currently - I bought a 5TB drive and partitioned it into 2.5 GB for Time Machine, and 2.5 GB for “storage”. Apparently that’s a recipe for disaster - contrary to what I was told many months ago, Time Machine should never be set up as a partition on an external drive.

My eventual system will include my Mac Mini (with 1 TB drive), an external drive with 4 TB space for things I don’t use all that often, and another 4TB drive only for Time Machine. (I also have a 2 TB 5" hard drive plugged into a Black Thermaltake housing, from many years ago, which is also serving as a backup Time Machine drive.)

I must be getting old - the suggestion from @platypus is something that should have been obvious to me, but I was so focused on my current photography that I never thought of it. The amount of things I’m constantly learning that I didn’t know/remember from before is overwhelming.

I feel like I’m back on solid ground again, at least for a while. I’ve started to feel like I’m living and working on a world that looks more and more like quicksand, than solid ground. The world around me seems to be just an illusion of “stability”. Forgetting about “the virus” and the increasing chances of “war”, my photographic world is no longer “solid and stable”. I keep resisting the thoughts of the new mirrorless cameras, but at least I have some very good company here - @Joanna . While I thoroughly enjoy my Leica cameras there is a rumor now that Leica is eliminating buttons and moving to a touch screen for controls, as Fuji did with the X100v. That’s the reason why I will never update from my older X100f, and would kill any interest I might have in the upcoming Leica M11. My current Apple computer has the older technology Intel chips, but Apple’s newest M chips are so much better, at some point I might upgrade. Yesterday I turned 78. At some point I need to stop “pushing” for newer and (?)better. (While “newer” might imply “better”, I don’t automatically trust this, and I know of too many areas where “newer” means lesser quality, not more.) Finally, I’m well aware that the user, in this case, me, is the main force in getting/doing/creating “better”, not the tools.

I’m not familiar with PhotoMechanicPlus, but I’m pretty sure it’s designed for doing things like rearranging folders and files. so I’d think that using it should be one of the first things you will want to do.

Thanks to @platypus there may be no re-arranging necessary, other than to start using a new _2022 top-level folder for next year’s photos.

You’re right though - I ought to do some re-arranging of previous photos, up through the present, but before I “do” any of that, I need to figure out what, if anything, I want to do.

Silly thought, I think I know what to do now, but that’s what I’ve thought every year for the past 20 years or so. Nothing is “permanent”.

PhotoMechanic gave me a much better way to store and organize my files, and it seems to be completely compatible with PhotoLab, at least as of today.

When the dust has settled, I need to think about keywords, which PhotoMechanic also does, and I need to do the job of exporting the data in my lightroom catalog so all of it is stored in files next to the images. Even then though, if I stop using Lightroom, that’s all wasted effort. For that matter, if I ever stop using PL5, then all my .dop files also turn into wasted effort.

A lot of this is completely my fault - when RAW first became an option, I should have switched to it instead of jpg. Leica completely cured me of that bad habit, as the Leica M8 jpgs were considered horrible. That was the final straw, for me. Of course now I have .dng, .raf, .nef, .cr2, and so on - how many of them will still be around ten years from now?

A good DAM makes it much easier to manage keywords (e.g., via a good interface and a thesaurus). It also helps manage other important metadata like copyright, captions, headlines, locations and GPS data (assuming you use any of those). Some of that information (e.g., copyright) is likely already stored in your images; a DAM makes it more accessible.

Lightroom stores two kinds of information, image processing data and image metadata (like the above). Processing data is unique to LR, but other metadata is more universal. Storing that other metadata in XMP sidecar files (instead of just the LR catalog) means that you’re liberated from being locked in to LR.

As soon as we use an app that uses proprietary formats and methods, we’re locked in, at least to a certain degree. PhotoLab uses a database that stores more info than what it stores in its sidecars, so does Lightroom and Photo Mechanic Plus relies on a database too. Although XMP and IPTC’s are so-called standards, they leave enough room for creating less than optimal constellations.

For best interoperability, check, which tags can be written by one app and be read by another. You’ll find a subset that will work with PM, PL and Lr alike. Stick to those tags and avoid the subset which is only partially handled. Be prepared for a quirk or two, like e.g. the copyright notice in the IPTC-Status section of PL, something I’ve not seen in other apps I tested for metadata exchange.