Anyone notice this File Browser behavior in accessing photos?

If I want to add a photo to any kind of post I am creating, I use Browse/Media/Photos to locate the photo and attach it.

It often takes anywhere from 7 to 20 seconds starring at Loading Images… before the photos show up.

I have tested this in Safe Boot and the problem of slow loading of the photo library remains.

Has anyone else noticed this? It has been an ongoing issue with me for over two years. Apple says in my bug report that this is “expected behavior”.

Macbook Pro 2017, Big Sur 11.5, photo library on an external SSD with 28,000 images. Using iCloud.

I would agree with Apple. You are paying for storage and not performance. Think of the millions of Apple users of iPhoto Library in iCloud clambering to store photos each and every day. This library only gets larger. You haven’t mentioned any files sizes and hi-rez files only exacerbate performance

You are missing the point. I have no issues with iCloud downloading the photos to my photo library.

Once downloaded they are 100% locally stored files on a very fast SSD connected to the Mac by an equally fast Thunderbolt connection.

ICloud has nothing to do with my experience of slow loading of the photos. Sorry if my original message confused you. Nothing internet related going on here.

Yes, I have, so I always export any photos that I want to attach to anything first and then add the photos from the exported location. I have no idea if it is any better in Big Sur - I started doing it this way a while ago. (High Sierra? Mojave?)

Thank you for confirming this defect of Apple’s Finder going back years.

I find I need to do as you do and use the Photos App to download the photos to a convenient folder and then retrieve it from there.

I made a video, I may need to send the video to Tim Cook or post it somewhere where Apple will be publically humiliated so they will make this a priority to fix in Monterey.

This doesn’t bother me at all. I’d rather Apple focus on things like identifying and fixing zero day security issues rather than this.

Defect is in the eye of the beholder. I don’t consider the Finder to be a media search/browse tool. I use more specialized software for that. In my case, I use Apple’s Photos. Others are fond of other apps.

Apple has enough engineers that they should be able to work on both.


Is that a path? Or some kind of section? My Big Sur Finder doesn’t show “Media” anywhere.

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This is where I have seen it: in Safari, on a web site that allows you to upload files, when you hit a browse button to look for files, it opens a finder view that, at the bottom, shows a Media link, for adding photos (and, I think, items from your iTunes/Music library.)

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Thank you Doug for pointing out the place in the sidebar where Media lives.

If Photos can find my file much faster than Finder, then Apple should write an API to allow me to search the photo library from the finder and get rid of media as a relic of the 1980s…

This two step process is slow but it also exports a usable .jpg file and not .heic. And creates a duplicate of a file already in my library leading to clutter my drive. Yes, I can delete the downloaded file after attaching and uploading it. Just adds another step to what should be a one-step process.

Let’s say instead of a photo, you wanted to attach a simple .txt file? What if getting it from the finder took 20 seconds to load and the fast workaround was to open the application that created the .txt file, download it, then attach it to my post. Would you be OK with that?

Apple won’t even acknowledge there is a problem. Remember, Apple develops software in silos using teams that likely don’t communicate with one another.

The team that wrote the Photos App which loads the library in a second and has a plethora of search tools is not the same group of people working on the media section of the system software.

That is why in Photos App I can search by location but cannot in the Finder implementation of Photos in the Media folder.

I need to know that my experience of slow loading of Photos from Finder can be replicated by others before I contact Tim Cook.

This is not a fair assertion.

Photos is a database application explicitly designed for quick access to a library of tens of thousands of images.

The Finder is a generic file-access app. It doesn’t maintain anything resembling a system-wide database of images, nor should it.

Trust me, you don’t want the Finder to become a gargantuan “one app to rule them all” product. Bloatware like that never works well. It always ends up being slow and buggy, no matter how well it may be written, simply because it needs to include specialized components for everything every user might theoretically want to do.

Yes, I know you’re talking about looking for photos from the Photos app, but it won’t ever stop there. Once that gets added, then you also need similar access to all your music, and all your movies, and Office documents, and every other media type that people might be using. Which is why it always ends up as bloatware.

Far better to just use the document organization tool you’ve got. If you don’t like Photos, get Lightroom. Or some other photo organization tool.


Images in Photos are not files. Photos is a non-destructive editor: an original file is imported and then never modified. Any changes you make, whether metadata or graphic adjustments are stored in the Photos database, not written into the original file.

If you want to use the photo somewhere, such as emailing or posting to a forum, then Photos exports a version with any edits baked in. That, presumably, is why it takes a few seconds. It is, as Apple says, normal, “expected behavior”.

If the issue of concern is simply the delay, then the export-first-then-use-the-Finder workaround makes no sense. Surely that takes longer.


There is a share sheet item to create a mail message from selected photos. For me, it works with no delay. However, I almost never use it because I have two issues with it:

  1. Most of the time, I am including the photo in a message that is a reply or addition to a thread (via forward). Exporting the photos needed and then attaching them to the message works better than manipulating the elements of the message created by this method.

  2. Using the share sheet method always places the photo inline in the message ((I.e. above any signature). Because some email processors have problems with inline attachments, I have set a preference in the Apple Mail Edit menu to always place attachments at the end of the message. Sadly, the share sheet procedure ignores this setting.

I don’t know about the mobile version, but with the desktop version of Photos, you can drag a photo from the app into just about anything. It will do whatever magic is needed to create/copy/paste an image into what you drop it on.

I never explicitly export photos elsewhere and I never go poking around in the mess of folders that comprise a Photos library. The drag-from-app method just works and is far more convenient.

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You’re missing the point. Apple owns both. It can easily invoke the same underlying data store of Photos using a Finder wrapper so that pix can be accessed from any app that has Finder access. The Photos app itself should just be one front end for accessing that data.

We can’t call it a bug because it appears to be designed that way. But it’s definitely poor design. And Apple has many other poor design and integration issues regarding accessibility of media between apps.

But what will you see if you gain access to a photo in Photos’ library? What’s stored on disk is the unedited picture, whether raw or jpeg. If that’s truly what you want, fine; but (AFAIK) you won’t see any edits you have made in Photos because the instructions to do them are stored in its own database and not applied until export.

So, why doesn’t Apple make the software open Photos in a Window at the top of the screen and the app I will be dropping into on the bottom half of the screen? ONE CLICK to set this up from ANY app. Mail, Facebook, Microsoft Word or Powerpont, any app that can have a photo inserted onto it.

It is actually possible to set this up using Moom, a add-on app available in the App Store. One Click zooms and moves the windows to my desired arrangement, one click puts them back where they were.

Thanks for the suggestion, using Moom, no more Photos in the Finder. Highly recommended little piece of software.

The Photos library is a “bundle”. That is, it’s a folder designed to look like a single file (so the Photos app opens when you double-click it). If you go and examine the contents, it’s a pretty confusing mess of folders. The originals are there. There is usually a JPG version of the results of the current set of edits. There are usually also thumbnail versions at various sizes. And database files. And the organization is not something that makes intuitive sense (at least not to me).

Although you probably can go looking for those files and copy them elsewhere, it’s a lot of hard work and almost never worth the effort. Hence the reason why I prefer to drag the image from the Photos app to the destination (like an open e-mail editor window).

Why can’t you do this? Photos works like every other Mac app. You can run it full-screen. Or you can run it as a normal windowed app. If it’s windowed, you can resize and position the app anywhere you want it.

If you’re referring to the iOS version of Photos, then I can’t help here. I don’t use that app for much. I use my Mac for all of my photo work and only sync the most recent few months of images to my mobile devices (via a USB cable when I sync everything else on the phone).

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Solved the problem with Moom.

The only thing it won’t do is open the Photos App if it is not open. I suggested to the develoiper that he just write a trigger to SHORTCUTS and AUTOMATION.

Zoom and Move combined. It’s a pretty cool app for rearranging your windows with one click. Even across two monitors. I only have one screen so don’t need that function, but it is there.

Or direct from the developer. $10 for a license.

You’re on the right track with what you want. And you’re right that Apple has done a lousy job of providing a well-thought out and well-integrated solution.

On macOS, Mail has a “photo picker” as a solution for giving you an inline point of access to your photo library. I hate it because the performance is abysmal. And, while you can search for dates, you can’t search for places or keywords, which are two of the key pieces of metadata I use for finding photos.

On macOS, iMovie also has access to your photos. That’s not any better. In both cases, the best way for success is to revert to using a feature that Apple has been trying hard to marginalize for years: Albums. Make an album with the pix you want in Photos, and then both tools above will work great. But it’s a pain in the butt making a throwaway Album every time you want to share a pic with anyone or anything. And Apple has been working VERY hard for years to save you from the need for making Albums (recall that they ditched Events) by enriching their search tools with lots of great metadata search abilities. But external apps are still 2nd class citizens, even those written by Apple. Very sloppy. Embarrassing from the company that, years back, insisted they wanted to be our digital hub.

On iOS, it’s gotten better recently. The current photo picker lets you search for keywords, places, people, dates, etc. But app consumption of that feature is shoddy; I’m not sure why that is.

So to circle back, I’m not sure the Finder will ever be the right place to search for pix outside of Photos. Apple would more likely build it into Spotlight. But what we really need is the in-context photos picker like we have in iOS to be available everywhere we want it: in web browsers, in Facebook, in Mail, in iMovie, etc.

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