Newly Discovered macOS Image Capture Bug Can Fill Up Hard Drives With Empty Data

image capture icon macA bug has been discovered in Apple's macOS Image Capture app that needlessly eats up potentially gigabytes of storage space when transferring photos from an iPhone or iPad to a Mac.

Discovered by the developers of media asset management app NeoFinder and shared in a blog post called "Another macOS bug in Image Capture," the issue occurs when Apple's Mac tool converts HEIF photos taken by iOS to more standard JPG files.

This process happens when users uncheck the "Keep Originals" option in Image Capture's settings, which converts the HEIC files to JPG when copied to Mac. However, the app also inexplicably adds 1.5MBs of empty data to every single file in the process.

image capture

"Of course, this is a colossal waste of space," said the NeoFinder team, "especially considering that Apple is seriously still selling new Macs with a ridiculously tiny 128 GB internal SSD. Such a small disk is quickly filled with totally wasted empty data.

"With just 1000 photos, for example, this bug eats 1.5 GB off your precious and very expensive SSD disk space."

NeoFinder's developers say they discovered the bug by "pure chance" when working on improving the metadata capabilities of NeoFinder using a hex editor, and provided an example shot of what the end of individual JPG files look like in hex, post-transfer.

wasted space image capture

Hex data of a JPG file viewed using Hex Fiend

MacRumors was also able to replicate the issue in macOS 10.14.6 and later using an online hex editor. It's worth noting that the bug only occurs when transferring photos from Apple devices, not when importing photos from digital cameras using Image Capture.

NeoFinder's team says it has notified Apple of the bug, and the developers suggest anyone plagued by the issue can try using a new beta version of the third-party utility Graphic Converter, which includes an option to remove the unwanted empty data from the JPEG files.

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Top Rated Comments

Blackstick Avatar
53 months ago
Easily fixed, but then I’d imagine Image Capture gets 5 minutes of developer attention every 5-10 years.
Score: 15 Votes (Like | Disagree)
nvmls Avatar
53 months ago
Sadly image capture is the fastest way to transfer 20k photos to an external hard drive, since Photos is unable to. The level of detail overlooked on Apple's software lately is beyond bizarre.
Score: 13 Votes (Like | Disagree)
cerberusss Avatar
53 months ago

Personally, I have never used this app. I would suggest simply removing it outright until Apple fixes it.
If you've never used this app, then this doesn't affect you, and you don't need to remove it.


Would this also eat up icloud storage if you are using icloud Photos?
No. It happens when people use the macOS Image Capture tool, to manually move pictures off their phones, onto their Mac.
Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)
JosephAW Avatar
53 months ago
Still using this app to transfer my photos in El Capitan. Set photos to always use jpeg format anyway on my devices.
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)
BaltimoreMediaBlog Avatar
53 months ago
I use this app every day and knew something was wrong with it and could see Apple has not updated it hardly at all. I know Tim Cook would like me to use his "preferred app", but I want to arrange my photos as I see fit, not how bean counter Tim Cook prefers me to. I was wondering why my Mac OS drive was getting bloated for no particular reason. Now I know. I'm the same way with iTunes. I do not want my music where Tim Cook wants it located. I have an entire music drive for that. Maybe I'm getting ancient in partitioning and such which many will say is no longer necessary. I rely on it for backups and such and use multiple HDs and SDs. If they were all grouped together in a RAID, I'd never know where the problem is or how to fix it and might lose it all. There might be newer ways, but I know mine works. I had an entire Toshiba HD shred itself to death in my sleep for no particular reason once, but my method saved most of my stuff.

FIX IT APPLE NOW!
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Ifti Avatar
53 months ago
I only ever use Image Capture when scanning a document from my printer.
Otherwise I transfer any images or videos from my iPhone using Airdrop.
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)