On Friday, Apple released an important software update to iPhoto ’11, which addresses what Apple described as an “extremely rare” problem with iPhoto galleries not upgrading properly and as a result, becoming inaccessible. We’ve also found some solutions for those already affected.


On Friday, Apple released an important software update to iPhoto ’11, the newly refreshed poster child of their just-released iLife ’11 suite of home media management applications for the Mac. The update addresses what Apple described as an “extremely rare” problem. Here’s the line from Software Update:

This update addresses issues that, in extremely rare cases, could result in data loss when upgrading a library from an earlier version of iPhoto.

Data loss, eh? Sounds terrifying. On the surface, it is. A brief search through the Apple Support forum reveals users who, at first blush, apparently “lost” their entire iPhoto libraries after upgrading to version ’11 (which is actually version 9.0 of the product).

The most commonly reported problem is a frozen upgrade process. After installation, the first time a user launches iPhoto ’11, they must upgrade their existing library if they want to use it in iPhoto ’11. Sadly, for some users, the upgrade never completes. Instead, it never gets past a spinning progress indicator.

The problem isn’t all that common, nor is it irreparable, though for those affected, the fix is quite convoluted. Some have apparently even had to restore from Time Machine backups.

For the record, I haven’t had any problems myself, despite upgrading multiple libraries ranging in size from a few hundred megabytes to a 300GB. I have found that iPhoto slows down considerably as it churns through the Faces database.

Another reported problem with iPhoto 11 is missing help files. Once again – I couldn’t reproduce the problem on any of my Macs. But if you are having problems accessing Help in iPhoto 11, you can find a solution here.

iLife ’11 was, for me, something of a mixed bag. I expected more from Apple, and the few updates we got to some of the iLife titles didn’t set my world on fire. Even though I haven’t experienced any problems myself, seeing library upgrade problems like these cropping up only makes me even less enthusiastic about the suite.

Let us know if you’ve had problems with iPhoto 11… or whether you intend to upgrade at all.

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  1. My library upgraded without problems, but I’ve had a number of crashes, some of which involve the graphics card and hang the entire display; this can only be solved with a reboot.

    See: http://discussions.apple.com/thread.jspa?threadID=2471090

  2. Massimo Allen Monday, November 1, 2010

    Apple is at it again with empty promises. If you bought an Apple Mac on or after october 22, 2010 you should get an updated version of iLife 11, instead Apple is dinging you for $6.95 + Tax to get the software.
    As if Apple is providing an upgrade! The iLife 11 was introduced on October 20, 2010 needless to say Apple wants another $6.95 just because they omitted to put the right disk in your Mac purchase.
    What a scam! Worst yet when you call, after being on hold for about 2 hours, you get no where.

  3. I’ve had crashes too! Most annoying and time consuming. Library seems to be intact. Done a safe reboot. Not returned to the scene of the crashes yet.

  4. When I upgraded from 6 to8, I lost about half my keywords and other metadata. the key words could be and were replaced, the exposure data etc is gone forever. Since then, my libraries have expanded to some 700+ GB and there’s no way I risk that with iphoto 11.

  5. I had no problem with my library but I made a Book on iPhoto with more than 100 pages and I cant delete 1 or 2 pages so that I can buy the book ( apple dont accept more than 100 pages in each book that you want to order online).

    1. I am also unable to delete pages in a 101 page photo book. Did you ever find a way to delete your extra pages?

  6. After upgrading to Iphoto 11 there is a problem to see the miniatures.
    Even some events not show up ( all the miniatures are empty)
    Command/option and start Iphoto = also no “option”

    after the bug update still the same problem
    The pictures i can find back in Finder Iphoto/Library
    But “file could not be imported, the file is in the Iphoto Library”

    anyone have a idea ??

    1. Yea, I have an idea. Apple has got to come up with another update and soon! That first update did not help me either. I’m having freezes and crashes. For me iPhoto 11 is unusable. Apple has got to fix it, or I gotta bail out of it. I’ve not lost any data, but I can’t keep restarting the computer every 5 minutes.

  7. I find moving the slider up and down on the right side of the page to move throught the photos is not a smooth move. It feels “jerky”.

    I also want to send an email with a photo without a frame and Iphoto does not allow me to do so.

    I bought the last update and was very frustrated with it. I am using Iphoto ll seeing as I purchased a new Mac Pro and it was on the new laptop.

    I was pleased with my previous version.

    1. Same here the slider is not smooth at all.
      The update 9.1 is not helping very much.

      Questions :
      How I get the previous version back ?
      Is er a possibility to rename the missing pictures?

  8. I’m definitely having problems upgrading my iPhoto library after the ilife’11 installations. It keeps crashing and I kept trying 3-4 times before realizing there has been a software update for iPhoto. It’s a bit confusing if you ask me but I’m still a fan of iPhoto. All I have to say is my library better not be corrupt or I wont be happy. I do have Time Machine running in the background so hopefully it’s a safety net.

  9. I just installed the bug repair of 9.1 for iphoto and now I can’t open my photos. I can see the image in event or photos, but nothing happens if I double click to enlarge the photo.

    I also have had trouble with the the jerkiness (is that even a word?) in the edit feature for exposure.

    I recommend not upgrading and I intend to ask for a refund and instruction on how to uninstall the ilife 2011

  10. I’ve upgraded from 09 to 11 version and worked nice. During creating my album on the screen appeared “There is a new version of iPhoto 9.01″ which I installed. After the installation I couldn’t find my pictures any more (Photo Calender-thubnails-on the right side of the screen. What I saw was just white field . I reinstalled ipHoto 11 but without success.

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