Photos Disappeared from Mac after Update? 11 Solutions

Connie Wisley
March 25, 2024 Preview 56.3K Preview 1
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You may have upgraded your Mac from Ventura to Sonoma, or from Monterey to Ventura, or finally decide to update from a previous version (such as Catalina, Mojave, or High Sierra) to Big Sur, looking forward to experiencing new awesome features and increased performance.

However, unexpected errors may occur after Sonoma, Ventura, Monterey, Big Sur or other version’s update, the commonest one is that your photos in Photos app lost/disappeared from your Mac, or photos missing because the originals cannot be found on your Mac. Don’t be panic, we have 11 solutions for you to recover lost/disappeared/missing Mac photos and photo albums.


Why Have Photos Disappeared from My Mac?

There are many reasons that lead to disappeared photos on Mac, but it is hard to determine what is exactly the reason to cause such an error, unless we test and exclude one by one. Anyway, following are probably the reasons that why your photos get disappeared from your Mac:

  • Mac crashes when updating to latest macOS
  • macOS conflicts with apps on your Mac to cause data loss
  • Not enough space for macOS update and data is overwritten
  • Accidentally delete the photos or someone else mistakenly delete them
  • You have set up the iCloud Photo sync across different devices, but the iCloud Photo Library is disabled on your Mac, so the photos don’t sync up and become missing
  • Malware or virus attacks macOS system to make formatted/disappeared photos

Therefore, as first aids to find or recover disappeared photos after Mac update, you can enable iCloud sync, go to Trash bin, scan and remove malware, or delete unwanted files to get more space.


All Photos Disappeared from Mac after Update? Here's the Quick Fix!

The fastest and most straightforward way to recover lost or disappeared photos on Mac after update is using a piece of data recovery tool, which saves your time and even brings some valuable data back to your MacBook Pro or Air.

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 drive types.

If your pictures are missing after upgrade to Sonoma, Ventura, Monterey or Big Sur in the absence of a Time Machine backup, you can recover them using this software. Better yet, after scanning, Cisdem will detect and repair the corrupted photos by default before preview and recovery.

Why Choose Cisdem Data Recovery for Mac?

  • Restore files lost due to deletion, formatting, system crash, power off, etc.
  • Repair corrupted videos
  • Quickly search files with keyword, file size, date created or modified
  • Preview files before recovery
  • Recover files to local drive or Cloud (iCloud, Dropbox, OneDrive, GoogleDrive, pCloud, Box)
  • Quick access to Trash, Desktop, Downloads, etc.

Easy Steps to Recover Lost or Disappeared Photos on Mac After Update

  • Step 1. Install the program.
    Download and install the free trial of Cisdem Photo Recovery on your Mac, and then run it.
    Free Download macOS 10.9 or later
  • Step 2. Choose the location for lost or disappeared photos.
    Go to Hardware Disk, choose the location where stored the lost photos on your Mac.choose a mode
  • Step 3. Scan and find the disappeared photos.
    Click Search for lost files button to start scanning the hard drive, go to Type > Pictures and check the photos of different formats.choose a disk
  • Step 4. Preview and recover disappeared photos on Mac.
    Double click on the photos to preview, select the photos and click on Recover to get them back.found files

With this, the procedure to recover disappeared images after upgrading to new macOS is completed successfully.


Fix Photos Library to Recover Mac Photos Disappeared | 7 Options

Photos Library is the database where all photo files, thumbnails, metadata info, etc. are stored. Problematic Photos Library will have a direct impact on Mac photos, possibly resulting in photos disappeared from Mac. Here we’ve gathered 7 methods to deal with issues related with Photos Library.

#1 Restore Photos Library on Mac to Get Back Disappeared Photos

If you find the library folder but see no photos in it, then it may get corrupted. But luckily, Photos app allow users to repair your Photos Library when photos or photo albums lost/disappeared for no reason, become unreadable or just missing.

1. Before doing Library First Aid, it's always a good idea to backup your hard drive firstly with either Time Machine or other backup method;

2. 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.

  1. Quit Photos app if it’s launched.
  2. Press Option + 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
  4. Wait for the Repair process to finish, then your Photos Library will be opened automatically and now you can check your missing photos.recover photo library

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


#2 Repair Photos Library on Mac Using Disk Utility

Another approach to fix Photos Library errors is making use of Disk Utility on Mac. When you see messages like “a volume is not working properly”, “Photos program shuts unexpectedly” pop up on Mac, try this method to recover Mac disappeared photos within several steps.

  1. Open Finder > Applications > Utilities > Disk Utility.
  2. Click on View > Show All using disk utility 01
  3. Select the disk that causes the disappeared photos > go to First Aid using disk utility 02
  4. A confirmation window will pop up. Choose Run to start the repairing using disk utility 03

After the First Aid process done, head to check if your Mac disappeared photos show up again. If not, proceed to other solutions.


#3 Photos Missing from Mac Photos Library? Find Original!

Sometimes, we don't get a correct setting for our Photos app, like we leave “Copy items to the Photos library” unchecked, so when we view our photos in Photos but later moved the photos to an external hard drive after Mac update, once we want to check the photos again, they became “missing” on Mac since the original ones are not found. In this case, we need to restore these missing photos by Consolidate.

  1. Launch Photos app, go to Preferences > General, check the box before “Copy items to the Photos library”.recover missing photos mac
  2. Click on one of the “missing” photos, and continue with Find Original.recover missing photos 02
  3. Then navigate to the drive or folder where you stored the original photos.
  4. Then select all these original photos, go to File > Consolidate, now all the photos won't be referenced and saved in an external hard drive, they are moved to your Photos library.recover missing photos 03


#4 Create System Photo Library

In case you have more than one photo library on your Mac, photos also tend to get disappeared at times. To resolve this, designate a system photo library to create a common access to all the photos in applications like Photos, iCloud Photos, Shared Albums, My Photo Stream, etc.

  1. Close Photos if it’s opening.
  2. Select Photos app once again > click Preferences at the menu bar.create system photo library 01
  3. Go to General tab > click Use as System Photo Library button.create system photo library 02

#5 Unhide Hidden Photos on Mac

Mac photo seems to be missing if it has been hidden by mistake, so that you can only see it in your Hidden album. Suppose you use iCloud Photos, photos that you hide on one device will be hidden on other devices as well. To revert photos disappeared from Mac, here are 3 options to unhide your hidden pictures.

Option 1: Show Hidden Photo Album

  1. Launch Photos app > View > Show Hidden Photo hidden photo album 01
  2. The Hidden album will appear in the left sidebar. Choose it > find and right click the disappeared pictures on your Mac > select Unhide to recover hidden photo album 02


Option 2: Run Terminal

  1. Open Terminal program on your Mac.
  2. Type the command: defaults write AppleShowAllFiles TRUE > press Enter to show all the files in Mac Finder.
  3. Continue to type killall Finder > press Enter to restart Finder to fix errors. In this way you can see all hidden photos on terminal

Option 3: Show Hidden Photos in Finder

  1. Open Finder in the Mac Dock.
  2. Select and open your Macintosh HD folder. Mine is hidden photos in finder
  3. Press Command+Shift+. to reveal all the files hidden by macOS.
  4. Find the photos gone from Mac that you are looking for.


3 Free Ways to Recover Mac Photos Disappeared after Update

If there is no issue about your Photos library and you just want to try other methods before installing Cisdem Data Recovery on your Mac, here are 3 free options to fix photos missing from Mac after update.

#1 Recover Lost Photos after Mac Update from Recently Deleted

If your Mac photo albums disappeared after macOS Sonoma or Ventura update, have a look at the "Recently Deleted" album in Photos app.

  1. Open Photos 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 photo 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.


#2 Restore Photos after Mac Update with Time Machine

Still not able to recover disappeared photos after Mac update, now take a crack at Time Machine restore, if you have enabled and set up the Time Machine backup.
Restore Lost Photos after Update with Time Machine

How to Recover Lost Photos on Mac after Update with Time Machine

  1. If the Photos is open, choose Photos > Quit Photos.
  2. Click Apple menu > choose System Preferences > 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.time machine photos
  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.


#3 Retrieve Photos Disappeared from Mac with iCloud Backup

Still using iPhoto app on your Mac and working on an earlier macOS? Even your iPhoto library gets disappeared after Mac update, we can still restore.

In the case that you don’t have a Time Machine backup but enabled iCloud backup, go check your iCloud account and find if the photos are still up there in the cloud, because there is a chance that you’ve disabled the iCloud update on Mac before the photos went lost from Mac. If it is a positive answer, download the photos from your iCloud to your Mac again for recovery.

How to Restore Photos from iCloud?

  1. Visit in your browser, log in.
  2. Go to Library > Photos, select the photos that you want to recover to your Mac.
  3. Then click on the Download icon and find the photos in Downloads folder.restore photos icloud


FAQs about Photos Disappeared from Mac after Update

1. Where did all my photos go on my Mac?

When your photos are missing from Mac after update, first search your pictures folder to make sure if your photos are still there on your Mac: click on Apple Menu > Go > Go to Folder > input “~/Pictures/” > Go, check the Pictures folder or other folders you may use to save photos on your Mac. If not working, just seek help from other approaches listed above.
check pic

2. How do I get my pictures back on my Mac?

The second-to-none choice to get your missing pictures back after macOS update is utilizing a standard photo recovery application like Cisdem Data Recovery for Mac. Referring to the above tutorial, you can retrieve your disappeared photos from Mac in an effortless manner.

3. Does macOS update delete photos?

No, actually macOS update won’t delete any photos stored on your Mac. If photo lost does happen after an update, it could be caused by some unexpected factors during the update process, such as power outage, malware or virus infection, data overwritten due to insufficient space, conflict between apps and the updated macOS system, etc.


Final Words

Our Mac may store years or months of photos, they are valuable and we can’t afford to lose them. But chances are that they can be deleted or disappeared during the process of Mac upgrading. So, it is necessary to back up the entire Mac drive before upgrading to new Sonoma or Ventura or other versions. 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 or disappeared 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.

Connie Wisley
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Connie has been writing for Mac productivity and utility apps since 2009. Each review and solution is based on her practical tests, she is aways energetic and trustworthy in this field.

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  • William

    Thanks Cisdem Data Recovery. I tried nearly all tips to find back my precious photos lost after my macOS up to Monterey, which were taken on my grandma's 75th birthday, but I failed. Cisdem has done it successfully.

    1 years ago commonReply

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