Most FAQs I’ve seen so far on the internet about Photos for Mac have been largely based around wanting to transfer all your old photos from iPhoto into the new Photos app and then decide whether or not to have them all in iCloud. What I wanted was to start fresh with a new Photos library in iCloud but still have my old iPhotos available offline on the Mac. My iPhoto library was 85GB and this would have meant upgrading my iCloud storage plan.

Also I had some questions about how iMovie worked with iCloud Photo Library and Photos for Mac.

Hopefully others will find the below answers useful.


Can I have a new library for Photos for Mac and iCloud but keep my old iPhoto library separate to save iCloud space?

In short, Yes. I didn’t want to upload 85GB of old photos from iPhoto to iCloud which would mean upgrading my iCloud storage. Thankfully, Photos can support multiple libraries and more importantly, only the “System” library is allowed to be sync’d with iCloud so you can have an iCloud library and multiple other libraries that aren’t sync’d with iCloud. To achieve this, when you open Photos for the first time, don’t import your old iPhotos library, just set up a new one. Then when you’ve finished setting up the new one that syncs with iCloud, close Photos, then option-click Photos to open it again with the “choose library” dialog, choose a library then select your old iPhotos library. This will create a new Photos library based on your old iPhoto library but will not sync to iCloud. Warning If you do this, then it becomes much more difficult to selectively import old iPhoto albums into your new iCloud library. See next question. If at any time you change your mind, you can change which library is the “system” library from Photo’ preferences.

Can I create a new Photos for Mac library and then selectively import old iPhoto albums?

Yes, you can but it’s much easier if you leave the old iPhotos library as an iPhotos library and don’t ‘upgrade’ it to the new Photos library. To selectively import from the old iPhotos library do so just as you would import any photo to the new Photos app, just go to File > Import then look for ‘Photos’ in the left side bar of the Finder window then select iPhoto. You will then see all your old albums/events etc.

Can I change which Photos for Mac library syncs with iCloud?

Yes, you can open up any library then go to Photos > Preferences and click “Use as system library”. The go to the Photos iCloud preferences, and enable iCloud sync for this library. Beware, this will not ‘merge’ photos already on iCloud. You can’t merge libraries.

If I use a Video from iCloud in iMovie, can I then delete it from iCloud to save space without ruining my iMovie project?

Yes you can, as soon as you use a photo or video from the iCloud library in your iMovie project, iMovie makes a copy of the original into the project folder. When you’re done, you can then delete the original video from iCloud to save space.