Photos for Mac

Photos App Wont Restore / Upload to iCloud

I recently switched from a Windows PC to my first iMac (2019, Catalina).   I’ve had various iPhones

for the last 8 years with associated iCloud account (2TB storage).  All the photos I’ve obtained on my iPhones over the last 8 years are stored within iCloud (optimised storage).  These synced to the Photos app on my iMac.

I have a number of older photos and videos stored on an external hard drive and I thought it time I added these to iCloud so that I have access to a lifetime of photos and videos wherever I go.

These older photo’s and videos are about 500GB in size and include about 15000 files.

I assumed if I imported them to the photo’s app on my iMac they would be uploaded automatically to iCloud as I have optimised storage activated on the iMac also.

I was of the impression the Photos app on iMac would link to the file and that the files would remain on the external hard drive and not be copied to another location.

I’ve since found this is clearly not the case.  75% of the way through importing the files to

the Photos app I received and alert saying my iMac internal hard drive (1TB) had reached

capacity.  Further assessment shows my “other” storage component as consuming 700GB of space, prior to importing the photos I knew my “other” storage component to be about 50GB. 

I’m confused how 500GB of photos consumed 700GB of space.

Initially I thought that the iMac Photos app may just need time to upload to iCloud and space would become available once it did so.  I let the iMac sit for 2 days, nothing changed.

I realised that none of the files I imported into the photos app on the iMac were being uploaded to iCloud (they weren’t appearing on my iPhone).

I did some Googling and from the results decided the best course of actions was to turn iCloud on and off again and also repair my photo library on my iMac.  BIG MISTAKE.

The photo library ‘repairs’ successfully but then goes onto ‘restoring’.  It’s been restoring for over a week.  I’ve stopped and started it a few times as it will get stuck on any given percentage (77%, then 17%, then 9%, then 82% etc) of completion for up to 24hours.

I can’t load the photos app on the Mac, it now tries to restore the library every time I do.

My questions:

  • How do I restore my photo library from here?
  • What is restoring the photo library actually doing, is it downloading the photos/videos from the cloud?
  • When I do finally restore my photo library what is the correct process for adding photos/videos from an external hard drive to iCloud? Is importing them to the Photos app on iMac like I did the best method or is there a better way such as uploading to iCloud via a web browser?
  • How do I clear my “other” storage, it’s still showing as 700GB.  My iMac internal hard drive is now full and I am unable to open any applications such as Pages, Numbers etc.  Or will this naturally clear if I repair the photo library and the files begin uploading to iCloud?
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