Ask Max: Reaching the Outer Limits of iPhoto 5
Having a major problem with my older iMac (running OS X 10.4.6 ) and iPhoto5, version 5.0.4 (263). It's ticking me off-big time... the challenge: I'll be working with my photos and import one here and there from my digital camera, one/two off the back up - CD's or DVD's that I create. 99% of the time all is well, but, like tonight for some strange reason iPhoto seems to go out-there somewhere, photos are gone?? I've not run any iPhoto updates, etc, currently. Stats tell me I have 9000+ photos but not all of them appear - there will be a date, roll number, but just blank "gray" squares - where would they have gone? Second part of mystery is there are visible photos in the mix, however, when I click on these to edit... nothing, nada, they just sit there with the "blue-border" indicating they have been selected. I'm really concerned about this as I wonder where they went or how they, the images, be deleted? That sounds really dangerous doesn't it?
I just have no idea as what to do, maybe I need to send the unit in for a look see, just don't know. Last time this happened six/seven month back with iPhoto it took out my folders also. Today my folders are present, assessable, but I cannot select a photo to edit... just sits there.
This is not an uncommon problem for power iPhoto users. With every version of iPhoto, Apple has had to increase the capacity for photos. You are reaching the practical limit of iPhoto 5, which is around 10,000 photos. In iPhoto 6, Apple is claiming support for 250,000 photos but I have yet to talk to anyone who has tested that limit. Everything you have described indicates that you're bumping into the library size limit of iPhoto.
You can test this for sure by archiving half of your iPhoto library to another location on your hard drive and see if iPhoto starts behaving properly. You certainly should be concerned about your occasional loss of photos as you may end up corrupting those files. So try sliming down that library or make a leap to iLife '06… and as always remember to backup often!