Space Cat, Prince Among Thieves

Mac OS X Lion / Mountain Lion Photo Booth Plist Rebuild/Repair Script

A while ago I upgraded from an aging MacBook Pro to a much more nubile MacBook Air. Delighted with the Air in every way, the only problem I encountered was the backup of the MacBook Pro I made I sold it was seemingly corrupted and would not mount.

I did though have a backup of my Photo Booth Photos and wanted them recognized by the application. Admittedly, it is simply a matter of entering them into the Recents.plist file, but having several hundred photos across three operating systems and three naming schemes (was that really necessary, Apple?) getting these into the proper order by hand would have been a huge burden.

Alas! A use for my PHP skills! I sat down and wrote a simple PHP based shell script you can use to create a new plist file with your images properly ordered.

This will back up your current Recents.plist as Recents.plist.bk.[time] so if you decide to roll it back, it will be there for you!


To Begin With

  • Ensure all photos and movies you wanted loaded into Photo Booth are located in your Pictures/Photo Booth Library/Pictures/ folder.
  • Ensure the Photo Booth Application is closed to avoid overwriting our changes.

Simple Method

Added September 10, 2012
Open Terminal and run the following command.

curl -Ls | php

Git Method

Simply executing

git clone PhotoBoothRepair
should both download it and set it executable.

Non-Git Method

  • Save the script somewhere accessible to you via Terminal.
  • Navigate in Terminal to the directory where you saved the shell script
  • Set the file executable by running
    chmod +x
  • Execute the shell script
  • All Done - Fire up Photo Booth to see our results!

Known Limitations

  • All Leopard format names arrive first simply for lack of anything to go on as they’re just numbered.

Please comment, I welcome feedback! Feel free to fork this code on Github - I'm open to any updates. I wrote it for my personal use but have been very pleased with the number of people that it has helped!

Comment by: Mark on

Mark's Gravatar Can you explain us with print screens or something? I don't understand the steps. I know where is "terminal" and simple details but i don't understand whats i have to type to terminal.

Comment by: Jesse G. Donat on

Jesse G. Donat's Gravatar While I do think it’s pretty self-explanatory, I have though for your sake changed the visual style of the Terminal commands to be more obvious – I hope that helps.

This guide looks pretty useful for getting you up to speed on basic Terminal usage, I hope it helps.

Comment by: Federico on

Federico's Gravatar I LOVE YOU!!!!! You're a genius!

Comment by: Jon Zantua on

Jon Zantua's Gravatar I can't understand terminal please help me with screen shots please? Having problems with photobooth :>

Comment by: ZorkFox on

ZorkFox's Gravatar Genius. Thank you, sir!

Comment by: Kris on

Kris's Gravatar Great work, retrieved my 13 year old daughter's Photo Booth library dating back to 2006 :) All the best from Kris, Melbourne, Australia.

Comment by: Scott Kennedy on

Scott Kennedy's Gravatar Just wanted to say thanks for this. I am a complete novice and manage to follow these instructions. You legend!!!

Comment by: Logan on

Logan's Gravatar When I attempt to navigate to the script (saved as a .txt) in terminal I get the message "Permission denied"...I am the only account on my macbook and the admin. What am I doing wrong?

Comment by: Austin on

Austin's Gravatar I saved it to my home directory so I wouldn't have to bother navigating to it, I changed the path, but it still didn't seem to work, and I don't understand enough coding to know what the error is:

AWMBP:~ austinwismer$ chmod +x
AWMBP:~ austinwismer$ ./
-bash: ./ /usr/bin/php: bad interpreter: Operation not permitted

Comment by: FC on

FC's Gravatar Thanks, it worked for me when I upgraded from snow leopard to mountain lion this summer! I'm glad all my photos are "in" photobooth again. Cheers!

Comment by: Pierre Wygant on

Pierre Wygant's Gravatar Wish this wold work for Snow Leopard. The silly folder is called "Photo Booth" and not "Photo Booth Library'


Comment by: Kelso on

Kelso's Gravatar Worked wonderfully!! Yeeyuh! :')

Comment by: fats on

fats's Gravatar thank you SO MUCH -- an immediate fix

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