Photos 1.3 for OS X edit image Mac screenshot 001

Photos for Mac stores your images in a dedicated library file, which can pose a problem when needing to deal with individual files. You can easily export images from Photos for Mac by way of dragging, but know that the app’s changed its export behavior since its initial release.

In Photos 1.0, dragging an image out of the app would save your selection as a downscaled JPEG file. In the most recent release, dragged images retain their original resolution but are still recompressed as JPG files.

However, you can avoid this behavior and preserve the original image file format, resolution and other parameters when exporting images from Photos to the Finder.

How to export images from Photos as unmodified originals using Drag & Drop

Step 1: Launch Photos on your Mac.

Step 2: Hold down the Option (⌥) key while dragging images to the Finder.

All of the original parameters of your images will be entirely preserved.

As shown on the screenshot below, dragging a photo without the modifier key, at left, exports the processed image as it appears in Photos, with all your edits. It also saves exported images in the JPG format. With the Option key pressed, the unmodified source image gets exported in its original file format and resolution, as seen at right.

Photos 1.3 for OS X export unmodified original Mac screenshot 002

How to export images from Photos as unmodified originals with menu command

Step 1: Launch Photos on your Mac.

Step 2: Choose File → Export → Export Unmodified Original.

Step 3: In the image export window, optionally click the File Name menu to choose how to name your exported files. You can name the files using the titles you’ve given them in Photos, or their original filenames, or opt to have a filename numbered sequentially, in which case you can specify text to appear before each number (for example, Image001, Image002 and so on).

In the Subfolder Format menu, optionally select whether to export images from several different moments as a subfolder named after the moment (select the Moment Name option) or export as individual files without subfolders (choose None).

Tip: Click the Export IPTC as XMP checkbox to also export any assigned image metadata and keywords in the form of a sidecar XMP file.

Step 4: Click the Export button.

Step 5: Choose where to save your unmodified originals, then click Export Originals.

Again, both methods preserve the original file formats in which the images were imported into the Photos library, without downscaling, recompression, cropping modifications, image filters or any other effect.

Exporting images from Photos to the Finder comes in handy when you need to work with them in other apps, such as Adobe Photoshop or Pixelmator. And if you use iCloud, you can also export image files to iCloud Drive, then access them from any Mac, iOS device or Windows PC set up to use iCloud Drive.

  • Awesome Tip! This exactly answers my problem. I’ve been trying for days to do this.

  • apoteke

    Can you further explain how to use the XMP file that is generated in the second scenario. I’m using photos to store my iPhone pictures until I move them to elements organizer.

    The dragging while holding the Option key solves my problem about losing the metadata such as date picture was taken.

    • Chris Kennington

      Yeah, I’m trying that but its still putting a different date on it. Not what is in Photos and the correct date. I have done it both ways, any answers? Running Photos 2

  • François Cazals

    Hi all! I would like to take some photos out of Photos into Finder on Mac without the date being altered. I have tried dragging them out using “Export unmodified original”. I have also tried pressing the option key while dragging the pictures out with my mouse. While this seem to work for some photos (as in I get the correct date with the picture with a JPEG instead of jpeg extension), it doesn’t work for others for some reason! Any ideas?