What does repairing photo library do?

The photo library on iPhone contains all of the photos and videos taken with the device’s camera as well as any media synced from other sources like iCloud or a computer. It allows you to view, organize, edit, and share your photos from one centralized place.

Over time, issues like corruption or syncing problems can arise that prevent the photo library from working properly. Repairing the photo library aims to fix these problems so that you can once again access and manage all of your photos and videos from the library.

Common Issues with Photo Library

There are a few common issues that can occur with the iPhone photo library, leading to problems like corrupted photos, missing photos, and photos not loading properly:

Corrupted photos – Over time, the data that makes up photo files can become corrupted. This leads to blurry or pixelated images that won’t properly load. Usually deleting and re-adding the photos fixes this.

Missing photos – If photos go missing from the library, it’s usually an issue with iCloud Photo Library syncing. Turning iCloud Photo Library off and back on again typically resolves this. Source

Photos not loading – Sometimes photos get stuck mid-upload and don’t properly load their thumbnails or full resolution version. Force quitting the Photos app and restarting the iPhone often fixes this. Source

Exclamation marks on photos – The exclamation mark indicates the full resolution version couldn’t load from iCloud. Toggling iCloud Photo Library off and on again usually resolves this. Source

Out of order photos – The Photos app sometimes displays photos out of order, especially when viewing them as an album or shared group. This appears to be a bug in the Photos app. Source

Back Up Photos

It’s crucial to back up your photos before attempting to repair your photo library. If any issues arise during the repair process, having a backup ensures you won’t lose any photos or memories. According to PCMag, there are a few options for backing up your iPhone or iPad photos:

  • Use iCloud Photo Library to automatically back up photos to iCloud
  • Connect your device to a computer and import photos to an app like Photos on Mac or the Photos app on Windows
  • Use a third-party backup service like Google Photos to store copies of your photos in the cloud

Backing up provides a safety net in case anything goes wrong during the repair process. You’ll have peace of mind knowing your photos are safe elsewhere while you work to fix your photo library. It also gives you the flexibility to restore specific photos if needed after repairing the library. Overall, taking the time to back up your photos first is a simple step that could save you from catastrophic photo loss.

Repair Option 1: Reset Photo Library

One option to repair issues with the Photos app is to reset the photo library. This involves deleting the existing library and allowing iCloud or iTunes to re-sync the photos from a backup or computer. According to discussions on the Apple support forums, this can resolve problems caused by corrupt caches or databases in the Photos app (source).

To reset the photo library on an iPhone or iPad, go to Settings > [Your Name] > iCloud > Photos and toggle off iCloud Photos. This will delete the existing photo library on the device. Then turn iCloud Photos back on to re-download the library from iCloud. On a Mac, go to Photos > Preferences > iCloud and disable iCloud Photo Library, which will remove local photos. Re-enable it to sync the library again (source).

Resetting deletes existing Photos data, so it’s important to have backups before resetting. The process re-downloads all photos and videos, so it can take time on slower connections. However, resetting often solves issues caused by corruption, conflicts or inconsistencies in the library.

Repair Option 2: Rebuild Library

Rebuilding the Photos library is a more intensive process that recreates the library database from scratch. To rebuild, hold down the Option and Command keys while launching Photos. This will open a dialog box prompting you to create a new library or rebuild the existing one. Select the option to rebuild the library.

Rebuilding goes through your entire library, rescanning and recreating all the content and metadata from your photos and videos. This can take a significant amount of time depending on the size of your library, but is effective at resolving underlying database corruption issues. Everything will be preserved – all your photos, albums, metadata etc. However, any customized album ordering may be reset. See Apple’s Photos support guide for more details on the rebuild process.

Overall, rebuilding the library is an intensive repair option most effective for serious database problems. Expect it to take time, but with the benefit of thoroughly recreating the library structure. Use this when basic repair does not resolve problems. Back up first, as rebuilding recreates the library from scratch.

Repair Option 3: Delete and Re-sync

One way to repair your iPhone’s photo library is to delete the local library on your iPhone and re-sync the photos from iCloud. This will remove any corrupt or problematic photos and give you a fresh start with your library. Here are the steps:

  1. Open the Settings app on your iPhone and go to Photos. Turn off iCloud Photos.
  2. Open the Photos app and delete all albums and photos. This removes the existing local photo library.
  3. Go back to Settings > Photos and turn iCloud Photos back on. This will re-download your photo library from iCloud.

The benefit of this method is that it completely resets your local iPhone photo library while preserving your photos safely in iCloud. Just be sure your iCloud library contains all the photos you want before deleting the local library. The downside is having to wait for all your photos to re-download.[1] [2]

Other Troubleshooting Tips

If the repair options don’t resolve your photo library issues, there are some other troubleshooting steps you can try:

  • Force quit the Photos app – On your iPhone go to Settings > Apps > Photos and tap ‘Force Quit’ to fully close the app.
  • Update to latest iOS – Make sure your iPhone is updated to the latest iOS software, as Apple often releases fixes for Photos in iOS updates. Go to Settings > General > Software Update.
  • Check iCloud settings – Open Settings > [Your Name] > iCloud and make sure you have enough iCloud storage space for your photos. Also check that iCloud Photos is enabled.
  • Log out then back in to iCloud – Sign out of iCloud on your device, restart it, then sign back in. This can resync your iCloud content.
  • Reset network settings – Go to Settings > General > Reset > Reset Network Settings. This will reset Wi-Fi networks and passwords, cellular settings, and more.

Performing a combination of these troubleshooting steps may help get your photo library back in order if repair options don’t work. Checking iCloud settings in particular can resolve many sync issues.

When to Seek Professional Help

There are times when issues with your Photos library go beyond basic troubleshooting capabilities. If you have tried the repair options discussed but still experience significant problems, it may be time to seek professional help.

Specifically, look for an expert if you encounter any of the following:

  • Your library is completely inaccessible or missing.
  • Many photos seem permanently corrupted or damaged.
  • You experience frequent crashes, freezes, or other instability.
  • Repair attempts result in errors or data loss.
  • You need data recovery services.

In these cases, don’t continue troubleshooting on your own, as you may risk damaging files. Instead, consult a technical expert like an Apple-certified repair shop. They have advanced tools and techniques to diagnose and fix underlying problems with libraries and possibly recover lost data.

Though professional help comes at a cost, it’s often worth it to restore and preserve your valuable photo memories. Handle severe issues promptly before they get worse. With expert assistance, you can get your library working smoothly again.

Preventing Future Issues

There are several steps you can take to help prevent issues with your photo library in the future:

  • Manage your iCloud storage – Make sure you have enough iCloud storage to handle all your photos and videos. You can upgrade your iCloud storage plan at any time if you find you are getting close to the limit. See this Apple support article for details on upgrading iCloud storage.
  • Back up your photos regularly – In addition to iCloud, make sure you are backing up your photos to an external hard drive or another cloud service periodically. This provides an additional backup if issues occur with iCloud.
  • Update your iPhone and apps – Keep your iPhone software updated to the latest version. App updates often include fixes for bugs that can cause problems like photos not syncing properly.
  • Delete old photos/videos – Go through your library periodically and delete photos and videos you no longer need. This helps free up space on your devices.
  • Turn off iCloud Photo Library and re-enable – If your library is having consistent issues syncing, try turning off iCloud Photo Library and turning it back on after a day or two. This can reset things and get your library syncing properly again.

Taking preventative steps like these can help minimize the chances of having major issues with your photo library in the future.


Your photo library is one of your most precious digital assets, containing memories and moments you want to preserve. Repairing and properly maintaining your photo library helps avoid losing those irreplaceable photos and videos.

As we’ve discussed, some common repair options include resetting the photo library, rebuilding the library database, deleting and re-syncing your photos from a cloud backup, and updating your devices and software. Preventative measures like backing up your library, optimizing storage, closing other apps, and updating software can help minimize issues in the first place.

While basic troubleshooting steps may solve many minor photo library problems, it’s best to seek professional help for serious corruption or data loss issues. Specialized data recovery services can often retrieve even deleted photos and videos when needed.

By learning the best practices for maintaining and repairing your photo library, you can rest assured your memories are safe. With proper care, your photo library will remain an invaluable archive you can treasure and look back on for years to come.