This isn’t a specifically iNaturalist question so apologies if it doesn’t fit on these forums. It does however affect my wife’s ability to post observations on iNaturalist and I wondered if someone here might be able to help.
My wife (https://www.inaturalist.org/people/2486191) is the main nature photographer and iNaturailst user of the family, and uses an Apple iMac computer to manager her extensive photo collection. The computer is an older iMac - a 21.5 inch slim body iMac from 2015 I think. When the photo collection started getting too large for the internal hard drive (which is one terabyte) we moved it to an external USB hard drive which is 6 terabytes in size. This worked nicely if a bit slow.
Recently there was a problem, and the iMac did not boot up. We took it to the local Apple store and they were able to reinstall the operating system and restore files from the Time Machine backup. We then brought it home and plugged it in to the external photo storage hard drive to open up the photos library.
Problem is, my wife has a lot of photos. The photos library is some 4.7 Terabytes in size on the external drive. When we opened the Photos app and told it open the photos library on the external drive it went to a loading screen which told us what percentage of the photos library had loaded. This increased very slowly. In the first couple of days of this process we called Apple support several times and asked for advice but all they could tell us, after ensuring that we had the latest available system software for the computer, was to just leave it going and it would load up eventually.
We waited a month, and it got up to 68% loaded. Then the toaster tripped the power switch and we had to start over. Currently we are at 3%. So I have a few questions if there is anyone here who understands how Apple Photos works.
First, does anyone know why it is taking so long to update the library? I get that there are a lot of photos (4.7 terabytes worth, which would be tens or hundreds of thousands of individual photos) but taking weeks to load seems excessive. We think that the system restore gave us a newer version of iOS than we had before, could that be a factor? For the record, we currently have the Catalina version of iOS but are not certain what we had prior to that.
Second, is there some way to speed up the loading? If the Photos app has changed and is requiring updating the indexing of the library, is there some way to bypass that so that we can at least open the library and look at pictures? Does Photos allow us to open the library in safe mode or some such without reindexing?
Third, is there a way to bypass Photos and look at the photos directly? The photos library appears as a single very large file on the external drive; is it really a single file or is it directory that is made to look like a file? If the latter, can we use some other means to access the photos?
Fourth, for people here who use Macs to manage their photo collections, what sort of setup do you recommend? What software, what sort of hardware? Should we get a faster computer? A larger or faster external drive?
Any advice is welcome at this point. My wife is very frustrated because it has been a month since she has been able to add any new observations to iNaturalist, or review older photos and add more of her historical observations, and we really need to find a way to sort this out.