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How to import folder hierarchies into Apple Photos

If you’re new and fresh into the Apple ecosystem and want to use Apple Photos to hold all your images, you’ll want to save a bit of time on re-organizing your folders of images that you may already have made.

In an update to Apple Photos in High Sierra, Apple realized that users that a folder containing other folders with images in them would have to spend a ridiculous amount of time recreating that same organization within the Photos App. Thankfully, Apple has added this simple and not very known fix along with a couple of other hidden ones..

It is pretty quick and easy:

Things you’ll need to make this work

  1. MacOS High Sierra
  2. Apple’s Photos App
  3. A number of pictures to import or export

Importing your organized folder into Apple Photos

  1. Drag the Folder (the one with all the subfolders of images) onto the Photos App icon in the Dock.
    • Doesn’t matter if the Photos App is already open or not.
    • If you drag it into the Photos App window, Photos will behave differently and will import the images without any organization.
  2. Click the checkbox next to the words “Keep Folder Organization” on the top right.
    • The Screen should say “Import” in bold.
  3. Click the blue button, “Import All New Items”
    • Imported photos will show up under “Imports” in the sidebar.
  4. Enjoy the wonderful organization added to the sidebar on the left-hand side of the window.
    • Each imported folder will have an album within it.
    • In Photos, Folders hold Albums and Albums hold images. Keep this in mind.

If you’re more of a visual person, feel free to watch this little silent movie.


I used a folder on the Desktop called, “Website Images”. Dragged it into the dock, checked the “Keep Folder Organization” box and clicked “Import All New Items”. I compared the sidebar with the original contents of the folder, and double checked it all!

Easy peasy!

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