iPhoto photos not appearing in Front Row

I have a MacBook and use iPhoto to manage my photo library which in general does a great job. Recently however a discovered a rather annoying bug in iPhoto and since I finally worked out how to solve it I thought for my first post I should share the solution.

The problem…

Neither Front Row nor Aperture (BTW Apple have a free trial of Aperture) ‘worked’: Front Row reported that I didn’t have any photographs, and asked me to import some to the library; and Aperture just didn’t do anything (no error messages, no activity, nothing) when I tried to include my iPhoto library.

Front Row screen shot

After some digging about on the Apple support site it was suggested that the AlbumData.xml file may include invalid characters (& and the like), and sure enough opening the file in a browsers highlighted that the file was invalid XML. However, deleting the file and allowing iPhoto to recreate it (as suggested) didn’t work.

The solution…

  1. Close iPhoto…
  2. Locate where in the AlbumData.xml file the invalid data is (the error [in your web browser] should report at what line the invalid XML is
  3. Open the AlbumData.xml file with an application like TextWrangler and go to the specific line with the error – in my case the problem was with one of my keywords (i.e. “List of Keywords”);
  4. Open iPhoto and highlighting the offending data – re-enter it thereby replacing the invalid data;
  5. Close iPhoto
  6. Delete AlbumData.xml
  7. Re launch iPhoto – make a change (e.g. create a new folder or album) [this last step forces iPhoto to republish the AlbumData.xml file]


  • the error could have been, I assume, in any part of the file not just the keywords;
  • you can’t edit the AlbumData.xml file directly since iPhoto never reads the file – only writes to it, so any changes will be overwritten.

A word about the AlbumData.xml file
iPhoto generates the AlbumData.xml file (inside its library folder). This file is only used by other applications, such as Front Row and Aperture (iPhoto never reads this file), so that they can locate photos and albums in the photo library. In other words the file is not used by iPhoto rather it is created by iPhoto to aid integration.

The fact that there are cases where iPhoto will write out malformed XML to the AlbumData.xml file, causing other applications to be unable to read the file correctly seems perverse – iPhoto should never be allowed to do this.


This bug is particularly common when migrating your photo library from Picasa into iPhoto.

11 responses to “iPhoto photos not appearing in Front Row”

  1. Thank you so much, I’ve just been having a dickens of a time with iPhoto!

    It seems so many apps use the albumdata.xml file, and none of them give any error messages, they just go tits up. Your solution was spot on!

    It seems the key points are opening up the file in a browser (in retrospect, perhaps obvious, by why is this an issue in the first place?), and the other bit of information is that the file is generated (and a rather portly file at that).

    Thank you again!

  2. This fix absolutely worked…thank you so much. I think part of the problem getting iPhoto’s library to appear had to do with keyword tagging present from picasa. Whatever it was, this definitly worked. I just wish that this page was ranked higher on google when searching for “iphoto front row troubleshooting.”

    Thanks again!

  3. I’ve only had my Mac for about a week, but I ran into this problem too. Thanks for your tips, which worked perfectly. It turned out I had some malformed keywords that were brought over from my Windows install. I deleted them, and the problem was solved.

  4. Thank you so much, I was going crazy over this problem!!!

  5. Ralph

    awesome blog keep updating and you will see us comming back and back.

  6. […] The problem may also be with the AlbumData.xml file. Have a look at this Apple Support Doc and this website for some […]

  7. […] reporting my iPhoto library was empty. A little Googling gave me a partial answer in the form of this blog post. However, it was not immediately clear what I really needed to do. Using the instructions mentioned […]

  8. I saw your blog while searching Google. Very interesing article I must say. I will now share it with my facebook friends.

  9. can you give a more detailed description how this exactly works –> i’m not a very experieced MAC user –> with the description on your weblog i do not know how to proceed.

    My problem: in front row I do not see all of my aperture folders –> so i can not stream them to apple TV –> it seems that it is similar to what is described in your weblog

    Hans Weiss

    1. Have you tried following the steps in the original post? Which bit doesn’t make sense/ doesn’t work for you?

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