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Export photos from Apple's macOS Photos app and query the Photos library database to access metadata about images.

Project description

What is osxphotos?

OSXPhotos provides both the ability to interact with and query Apple’s library on macOS directly from your python code as well as a very flexible command line interface (CLI) app for exporting photos. You can query the Photos library database – for example, file name, file path, and metadata such as keywords/tags, persons/faces, albums, etc. You can also easily export both the original and edited photos.

Supported operating systems

Only works on macOS (aka Mac OS X). Tested on macOS Sierra (10.12.6) through macOS Monterey (12.3).

This package will read Photos databases for any supported version on any supported macOS version. E.g. you can read a database created with Photos 5.0 on MacOS 10.15 on a machine running macOS 10.12 and vice versa.

Requires python >= 3.8.


If you just want to use the command line application, I recommend you to install using pipx. See other advanced options below.

Installation using pipx

If you aren’t familiar with installing python applications, I recommend you install osxphotos with pipx. If you use pipx, you will not need to create a virtual environment as pipx takes care of this. The easiest way to do this on a Mac is to use homebrew:

  • Open Terminal (search for Terminal in Spotlight or look in Applications/Utilities)
  • Install homebrew according to instructions at
  • Type the following into Terminal: brew install pipx
  • Then type this: pipx install osxphotos
  • Now you should be able to run osxphotos by typing: osxphotos

Installation using pip

You can also install directly from pypi:

pip install osxphotos

Installation from git repository

osxphotos uses setuptools, thus simply run:

git clone
cd osxphotos
python3 install

I recommend you create a virtual environment before installing osxphotos.

WARNING The git repo for this project is very large (> 1GB) because it contains multiple Photos libraries used for testing on different versions of macOS. If you just want to use the osxphotos package in your own code, I recommend you install the latest version from PyPI which does not include all the test libraries. If you just want to use the command line utility, you can download a pre-built executable of the latest release or you can install via pip which also installs the command line app. If you aren’t comfortable with running python on your Mac, start with the pre-built executable or pipx as described above.

Command Line Usage

This package will install a command line utility called osxphotos that allows you to query the Photos database and export photos. Alternatively, you can also run the command line utility like this: python3 -m osxphotos

> osxphotos
Usage: osxphotos [OPTIONS] COMMAND [ARGS]...

  --db <Photos database path>  Specify Photos database path. Path to Photos
                              library/database can be specified using either
                              --db or directly as PHOTOS_LIBRARY positional
                              argument. If neither --db or PHOTOS_LIBRARY
                              provided, will attempt to find the library to
                              use in the following order: 1. last opened
                              library, 2. system library, 3.
                              ~/Pictures/Photos Library.photoslibrary
  --json                      Print output in JSON format.
  -v, --version                Show the version and exit.
  -h, --help                   Show this message and exit.

  about      Print information about osxphotos including license.
  albums     Print out albums found in the Photos library.
  diff       Compare two Photos databases and print out differences
  docs       Open osxphotos documentation in your browser.
  dump       Print list of all photos & associated info from the Photos...
  export     Export photos from the Photos database.
  help       Print help; for help on commands: help <command>.
  info       Print out descriptive info of the Photos library database.
  install    Install Python packages into the same environment as osxphotos
  keywords   Print out keywords found in the Photos library.
  labels     Print out image classification labels found in the Photos...
  list       Print list of Photos libraries found on the system.
  persons    Print out persons (faces) found in the Photos library.
  places     Print out places found in the Photos library.
  query      Query the Photos database using 1 or more search options; if...
  repl       Run interactive osxphotos REPL shell (useful for debugging,...
  run        Run a python file using same environment as osxphotos
  snap       Create snapshot of Photos database to use with diff command
  theme      Manage osxphotos color themes.
  timewarp   Adjust date/time/timezone of photos in Apple Photos.
  tutorial   Display osxphotos tutorial.
  uninstall  Uninstall Python packages from the osxphotos environment
  uuid       Print out unique IDs (UUID) of photos selected in Photos
  version    Check for new version of osxphotos.

To get help on a specific command, use osxphotos help <command_name>

Command line examples

export all photos to ~/Desktop/export group in folders by date created

osxphotos export --export-by-date ~/Pictures/Photos\ Library.photoslibrary ~/Desktop/export

Note: Photos library/database path can also be specified using --db option:

osxphotos export --export-by-date --db ~/Pictures/Photos\ Library.photoslibrary ~/Desktop/export

find all photos with keyword “Kids” and output results to json file named results.json:

osxphotos query --keyword Kids --json ~/Pictures/Photos\ Library.photoslibrary >results.json

export photos to file structure based on 4-digit year and full name of month of photo’s creation date:

osxphotos export ~/Desktop/export --directory "{created.year}/{created.month}"

(by default, it will attempt to use the system library)

export photos to file structure based on 4-digit year of photo’s creation date and add keywords for media type and labels (labels are only awailable on Photos 5 and higher):

osxphotos export ~/Desktop/export --directory "{created.year}" --keyword-template "{label}" --keyword-template "{media_type}"

export default library using ‘country name/year’ as output directory (but use “NoCountry/year” if country not specified), add persons, album names, and year as keywords, write exif metadata to files when exporting, update only changed files, print verbose ouput

osxphotos export ~/Desktop/export --directory "{,NoCountry}/{created.year}"  --person-keyword --album-keyword --keyword-template "{created.year}" --exiftool --update --verbose

find all videos larger than 200MB and add them to Photos album “Big Videos” creating the album if necessary

osxphotos query --only-movies --min-size 200MB --add-to-album "Big Videos"

Example uses of the package

""" Simple usage of the package """
import osxphotos

def main():
    photosdb = osxphotos.PhotosDB()


    # find all photos with Keyword = Foo and containing John Smith
    photos =["Foo"],persons=["John Smith"])

    # find all photos that include Alice Smith but do not contain the keyword Bar
    photos = [p for p in["Alice Smith"])
                if p not in["Bar"]) ]
    for p in photos:

if __name__ == "__main__":
""" Export all photos to specified directory using album names as folders
    If file has been edited, also export the edited version,
    otherwise, export the original version
    This will result in duplicate photos if photo is in more than album """

import os.path
import pathlib
import sys

import click
from pathvalidate import is_valid_filepath, sanitize_filepath

import osxphotos

@click.argument("export_path", type=click.Path(exists=True))
    help="Default folder for photos with no album. Defaults to 'unfiled'",
    help="Path to Photos library, default to last used library",
def export(export_path, default_album, library_path):
    export_path = os.path.expanduser(export_path)
    library_path = os.path.expanduser(library_path) if library_path else None

    if library_path is not None:
        photosdb = osxphotos.PhotosDB(library_path)
        photosdb = osxphotos.PhotosDB()

    photos =

    for p in photos:
        if not p.ismissing:
            albums = p.albums
            if not albums:
                albums = [default_album]
            for album in albums:
                click.echo(f"exporting {p.filename} in album {album}")

                # make sure no invalid characters in destination path (could be in album name)
                album_name = sanitize_filepath(album, platform="auto")

                # create destination folder, if necessary, based on album name
                dest_dir = os.path.join(export_path, album_name)

                # verify path is a valid path
                if not is_valid_filepath(dest_dir, platform="auto"):
                    sys.exit(f"Invalid filepath {dest_dir}")

                # create destination dir if needed
                if not os.path.isdir(dest_dir):

                # export the photo
                if p.hasadjustments:
                    # export edited version
                    exported = p.export(dest_dir, edited=True)
                    edited_name = pathlib.Path(p.path_edited).name
                    click.echo(f"Exported {edited_name} to {exported}")
                # export unedited version
                exported = p.export(dest_dir)
                click.echo(f"Exported {p.filename} to {exported}")
            click.echo(f"Skipping missing photo: {p.filename}")

if __name__ == "__main__":
    export()  # pylint: disable=no-value-for-parameter

Package Interface

Reference full documentation on GitHub

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