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Dead Easy Hack To Stop Apple Photos’ Self Launching Behavior

By Kishore Sawh on December 26th 2015


What is it exactly about ‘hacks’ that has all of us so, how shall I put this, obsessed? There are YouTube channels and Encyclopedia Britannica volume’s worth of every type of hack imaginable, to the point where you sort of need a hack to find just the best ones because there’s a lot of rubbish out there. Want to turn an orange into a candle? Didn’t think so, but that’s there. Want to hack your way into bed with your wife and her best friend? Well, you’re out of luck. But really, hacks are just innovative, resourceful, perhaps simpler or quicker or efficient ways to do something.

In my experience, photography hacks are generally marketed as money saving alternatives, or as shortcut methods to do something. The problem with the latter is that it’s also been my experience that really these things tend to simply be tutorials on how to do something the right way. After all, a shortcut has to have some sort of cost to it. Otherwise, it would just be ‘the way’. If you want to learn a whole host of ways to do things in photography then just peruse our posts, and you can start with this Lightroom tutorial for a start, or maybe a really quick one right here.


If you’re running a moderately modern Apple computer, there’s a good chance you’re running Apple’s Yosemite OS, and probably have Apple Photos as part of your suite of applications. Apple made quite a big deal about it this year, and while it certainly has its merits, no moderately professional photographer I know uses it often, if at all. But that hasn’t stopped Apple trying to get you to because it seems every time you connect a phone or iDevice, or camera, or memory card to your computer, the damn thing opens up without your asking it to do so.



This self-launching behavior has annoyed many to no end, and while you are able to tell the computer not to do it, you have to tell it that for every device, including memory cards which are also viewed as new if they’ve been recently formatted. The frustration was too much for one lovely Reddit user, Ben Fon, who shared a way to ultimately disable the self-launching app via the use of a single line of text into Terminal. All you do is open Terminal, enter the following, and press Enter. Done.

defaults -currentHost write disableHotPlug -bool YES


That’s all there is to it, and if you ever want to revert to the old way just do the same and switch the YES to a NO. My utter gratitude to Ben for this, you have saved some of my sanity.

Source: PetaPixel, Reddit

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A photographer and writer based in Miami, he can often be found at dog parks, and airports in London and Toronto. He is also a tremendous fan of flossing and the happiest guy around when the company’s good.

Q&A Discussions

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  1. John Braz

    doesnt work! :'(

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  2. Chris Biele

    Thank you for this. It used to be a preference you could change globally, so this new behavior was really rubbing me the wrong way!

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  3. Andrei Belousov

    HA! This was driving me nuts! So glad there’s a fix!

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  4. Liam Douglas

    Thanks Kishore, the thing that I hated about Photos is I could disable it’s auto launch for my CF cards by unchecking the box in Photos itself, but even unchecking it for my SD cards never worked. This worked perfectly, thanks so much! Appple would have been smarter to have kept Aperture around, at least that was good software that I still use.

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  5. Jason Chambers

    Thank you for this one. I like and use Apple products but they are sometimes way too heavy handed with the “use our products, use our products, use our products” prompts.

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  6. Thorsten Hennig

    Oh my god, THANKS a LOT !!

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  7. Tom Blair

    Apple is made by fisher price so

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    • Dave Norwood

      Fisher Price is a great outfit, makes some mighty fine toys, durable and great to play with.

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  8. Joel Dominguez

    Yes. Please. Thank you. This has been driving me nuts for a while now. Thanks for the digital Christmas present. ;)

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  9. Kitty van Gemert

    This isonly relevent for El Capitan as that is the OS who keeps popping up the Photo app with each new device (including freshly reformatted sd cards). In Yosemity turning off the Photo app popup can be done in the Photo app or Image capture itself.

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  10. Purushothaman Srikanth

    THanks a lot!!!

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  11. Daniel Lee

    I never have an issue with Apple Photos popping up randomly, I think the reason may be that I’m using Windows :P

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    • Dave Norwood

      That may be but having used Windows from 95 to XP I know you had other problems. ;-)

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    • Daniel Lee

      As someone who has/uses a Windows PC, Macbook Pro, iPad and Android phone (used to have iPhone) I can say without any bias that there is no system that has no issues at!!!

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  12. Tomas Ramoska

    This is way I stay with Windows :)

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  13. Dave Norwood

    Tried everything recommended on the Apple user’s forums to no avail.

    Thank you!

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  14. Joseph Prusa


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  15. Mark Romine

    Thank you!

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