Lost Photos on Mac after Update, How-To Fix (Catalina Included)

2019-07-18 03:31:21 / Posted by Rosa Reyes to Recover Follow @ Rosa

When the macOS Catalina is released, you’d like to upgrade your Mac from a previous version (such as Mojave, or High Sierra), especially when Catalina boasts of awesome features and increased performance.

However, unexpected behaviors might happen that will cause your photos disappeared from MacBook Pro. If you lost photos on Mac after update, don’t be panic, as this is a common occurrence.

In this post, we will show how to recover lost photos after Catalina update.

Check Your Pictures Folder at First

People are accustomed to updating Mac to a new system by clicking on the "Update All" option in the App Store, which will also automatically update other apps like Photos. In general, upgrades would not result in photo loss. Just go to Macintosh HD> Users> Home> Pictures, and press Cmd + I to check your photos.

Recover Lost Photos on Mac after Update from Recently Deleted

(The quick fix)

If your Mac photos albums disappeared after macOS Catalina update, have a look at the "Recently Deleted" album in Photos or iPhoto app.

Test version: Photos 3.0

  1. Open Photos or iPhoto app.
  2. Click the “Recently Deleted” tab from the left side.
  3. Choose the thumbnails of your lost photos.
  4. Click on the “Recover” button on the upper-right corner to restore missing files after Mac update.

Recover Lost Photos from Recently Deleted

Matters need attention:

  • The photos items in the “Recently Deleted” album only give you 30-day grace period before getting rid of them to the ground.
  • Enable iCloud and get your photos backed up on iCloud as well.

Recover Lost Photos from Mac via Photo Library

Photo library is the database where all photo files, thumbnails, metadata info, etc. stored. If you find the library folder but see no photos in it, then it may get corrupted.

Restore iPhoto Pictures Missing after Upgrade

Photo Library First Aid is the build-in feature of iPhoto. It is the most direct way to resolve issues such as the library appearing to be unreadable, missing photos after macOS Catalina update, etc.

Now, let's start to recover photos disappeared from Mac using Library First Aid.

  1. First, turn on iPhoto’s “First Aid” mode. Before opening iPhoto app, hold down the Option and Command keys on your keyboard. Then launch Photos (need to press the two keys at the same time).
  2. In a few seconds, you will see a window like below:

Restore iPhoto Pictures via Library First Aid

See, it lists a quartet of options: “Repair Permissions,” “Rebuild Thumbnails,” “Repair Database,” and “Rebuild Database.”

Repair Permissions

This is probably the best option to start with. If you lost photos after updating Mac to Catalina, Repair Permissions mode may fix the problem. And, in my case, my lost Photos came back to life after the “Repair Database” step.

Rebuild Thumbnails

Resolve an issue where the thumbnail image disappears or is corrupted. It will help you get back those images again.

Repair Database

If your photos stored in another folder or corrupted, you can choose this option to repair your Photos library accordingly.

Rebuild Database

If nothing else works, try Rebuild Database mode out. It may take a long time, as it will completely rebuild your database, overwriting the existing one.

How to Use Photo Library on Photos App?

  1. Quit Photos app if it’s launched.
  2. Press the keys- Option and Command while you re-open Photos.
  3. In the pop-up Repair Library dialog, click on “Repair” to recover lost photos on mac after update. (Account and password may be needed for authorizing the Library Repair.)

Recover Lost Photos via Repair Library

The process might stop syncing photos with iCloud. So it’d better to check it by navigating to Photos > Preferences > iCloud once the process is finished.

Note One: Before doing Library First Aid, it's always a good idea to backup your hard drive firstly with either Time Machine or another method.

Note Two: You may need to wait a few minutes or several hours for Photos to fix. In my case, while doing Library First Aid I can still use my Mac though it is a little sluggish during the process.

Restore Lost Photos after Update with Time Machine Backup

The above two ways didn’t retrieve back the lost photos after Catalina update? Take a crack at time machine backup, if it has been set before macOS Catalina upgrade.

Steps to recover lost photos on Mac after update with Time Machine

Restore Lost Photos after Update with Time Machine

  1. If the iPhoto or Photos is open, choose iPhoto/ Photos > Quit Photos.
  2. Click Apple menu > choose System Preferences and > click on Time Machine.
  3. In the Time Machine menu, select Enter Time Machine, and it will take you to Time Machine on Mac.
  4. Time Machine will show you all available backups. Click the date of your last backup and select the lost photos that you want to restore and you can also press the space bar to preview the photo.
  5. Click the Restore button and the image file will be restored to the original location on Mac. Depending on the size of your file, it may take some time for your library to be restored.

The Best Way to Recover Lost Photos on Mac after Update (Without a Backup)

If you have tried all the above methods, and still can't find your missing photo files after mac update. Or, you just don’t have a Time Machine backup. In this case, using a piece of third-party photo recovery software might be your last resort. There are widely available utilities out there, here are a great program which worth giving a shot.

Cisdem Data Recovery for Mac— the best method for recovering lost images, videos, songs, etc. from both the internal Mac hard drive and external storage devices. It supports an extensive number of formats and drives types. If your pictures missing after upgrade to Catalina in the absence of a time machine backup, you could recover them using this software.

Follow the steps below to see how this software recover lost photos from Mac.

Step 1Install the program

Download and install the free trial of Cisdem Photo Recovery on your Mac, and then run it.

Free Download

Step 2Choose a recovery solution

There are 5 recovery solutions. Choose one of them that suite your needs. I recommend Basic Data Recovery mode (fast and effective but not detect all the items) or Advanced Data Recovery mode (deeply scan your drive but take longer time).

choose a mode

Step 3Select the hard disk drive

Choose the drive from where you want to recover lost or deleted photos after macOS Catalina update and click Scan button at the top right.

choose a disk

Step 4Waiting for scan

Cisdem Photo Recovery for Mac will start scanning for the recoverable files, and sort it by file types, Meanwhile, the scanning results will be presented in the right panel in real-time.

found files

Step 5Preview and recover

Preview the scanning results, choose photos we want to recover, and then click "Recover".

recover files by cisdem

With this, the procedure to recover lost images after upgrading Mac OS X to Catalina is completed successfully.

iPhoto VS Photo App

iPhoto, included with Mac from 2002 to 2015, was stopped by Apple Inc (no longer update). While Photos app is a reincarnation of iPhoto. It’s faster, deals with larger libraries and adds deep connections to iCloud.

But part of users still sticks with iPhoto on Catalina, Mojave, or High Sierra. Since iPhoto is able to manage photos easily, add or change titles and descriptions to photos in batches, etc. It indeed contains some practical functions that the Photos app doesn’t support. Or people using iPhoto just hate to change in any form. Well, iPhoto (version 9.6.1) can be continued on the new Mac system. You can download iPhoto from the App Store or copy it from your old Mac.

This guide is workable for recovering both Photos and iPhoto pictures missing after upgrade.

Final Words

Photos sometimes mean the whole world to us and we can’t afford to lose them. But chances are that they can be deleted or missing during the process of Mac upgrading. So, It is necessary to back up the entire Mac drive before upgrading the OS X. You can back up them to multiple devices or using cloud service such as Google Drive, Dropbox, etc.

Once data loss occurs, just stay calm, and follow the methods above to recover lost photos on Mac after update. The most helpful and all-in-one solution I think is to install a Mac photo recovery software or service.

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