macOS Image Capture Bug More Pervasive Than Originally Thought

Earlier this week we reported on a bug in Apple's macOS Image Capture app that adds empty data to photos when imported from iOS devices, potentially eating up gigabytes of disk storage needlessly. Today, we're hearing that the bug in macOS 10.14.6 and later is a lot more extensive than was initially believed.

image capture
NeoFinder developer Norbert Doerner, who originally discovered the bug, informed MacRumors that the same issue affects nearly all Mac apps that import photos from cameras and iOS devices, including Adobe Lightroom, Affinity Photo, PhaseOne Media Pro, and Apple's legacy iPhoto and Aperture apps.

The reason is said to be because the bug is located inside Apple's ImageCaptureCore framework, which is a part of macOS that all developers must use to connect to digital cameras. The only app that isn't affected is said to be Apple's Photos app, which uses other undocumented APIs to talk to iOS devices.

Essentially, the pervasive Mac bug causes HEIC files imported from iOS devices and converted to JPG to contain more than 1.5MB of empty data appended to the end of each file, increasing the file size and eating up storage. As an example, Doerner said he discovered more than 12,000 JPG files in his own photo library containing this extra unwanted data, resulting in over 20GB of wasted disk space.

wasted space image capture

Hex data of a JPG file viewed using Hex Fiend

Apple is apparently aware of the bug, but until a patch arrives, one short term workaround for future transfers is to prevent your iPhone or iPad from using the HEIF format when taking photos: To do so, launch the Settings app, select Camera -> Formats and check Most Compatible.

For users with large existing photo libraries, Doerner has suggested 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.

Alternatively, media asset management app NeoFinder is itself being updated on Monday to include a tool that can find and eliminate the unwanted data in JPG files. NeoFinder for Mac costs $39.99 and a free trial is available to download on the developers' website.

Top Rated Comments

chrfr Avatar
28 months ago

Is it possible this is more than just a "bug"? Apple makes a LOT of money from services including iCloud storage fees, and by inflating photo file sizes, more people would be nagged to upgrade their iCloud storage from the initial free 5GB, to a paid tier, to accomodate a larger iCloud Photo Library. There is potential financial motive here - anyone with the know how should look carefully at all files stored in iCloud to see if there is any similar artificial inflation of file size. It reminds me of the Wells Fargo scandal where staff were creating extra accounts in customer names to inflate their numbers...
This is an unfounded conspiracy theory. This bug affects images imported to a Mac manually via the Image Capture app, not images saved in iCloud Photo Library. It's not a widespread workflow for people- most folks just let their device sync photos through the Photos app.
Score: 12 Votes (Like | Disagree)
hughsaunders Avatar
28 months ago
A fixed increase per file is linear not exponential growth.
Score: 11 Votes (Like | Disagree)
martyjmclean Avatar
28 months ago

I don't understand, why a workaround is preventing iOS from shooting in HEIF. It's not the problem in HEIF, but in conversion. So if you work only with HEIF files, it should be fine, right?
The problem is, nothing is compatible with HEIF (or HEVC). I get handed a lot of iPhone stuff at work and need to xcode them to JPG or DNX.
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)
chrfr Avatar
28 months ago

('https://www.macrumors.com/2020/05/01/macos-jpg-truncation-bug-widespread/')

Earlier this week we reported on a bug in Apple's macOS Image Capture app ('https://www.macrumors.com/2020/04/28/macos-image-capture-bug-eats-storage/') that adds empty data to photos when imported from iOS devices, potentially eating up gigabytes of disk storage needlessly. Today, we're hearing that the bug in macOS 10.14.6 and later is a lot more extensive than was initially believed.



NeoFinder ('https://www.cdfinder.de') developer Norbert Doerner, who originally discovered the bug, informed MacRumors that the same issue affects nearly all Mac apps that import photos from cameras and iOS devices, including Adobe Lightroom, Affinity Photo, PhaseOne Media Pro, and Apple's legacy iPhoto and Aperture apps.

The reason is said to be because the bug is located inside Apple's ImageCaptureCore framework, which is a part of macOS that all developers must use to connect to digital cameras. The only app that isn't affected is said to be Apple's Photos app, which uses other undocumented APIs to talk to iOS devices.

Essentially, the pervasive Mac bug causes HEIC files imported from iOS devices and converted to JPG to contain more than 1.5MB of empty data appended to the end of each file, increasing the file size and eating up storage. As an example, Doerner said he discovered more than 12,000 JPG files in his own photo library containing this extra unwanted data, resulting in over 20GB of wasted disk space.


Hex data of a JPG file viewed using Hex Fiend ('https://ridiculousfish.com/hexfiend/')

Apple is apparently aware of the bug, but until a patch arrives, one short term workaround for future transfers is to prevent your iPhone or iPad from using the HEIF format when taking photos: To do so, launch the Settings app, select Camera -> Formats and check Most Compatible.

For users with large existing photo libraries, Doerner has suggested using a new beta version of the third-party utility Graphic Converter ('http://www.lemkesoft.org/beta.html'), which includes an option to remove the unwanted empty data from the JPEG files.

Alternatively, media asset management app NeoFinder is itself being updated ('https://www.cdfinder.de/guide/17/17.5/truncate_JPG.html') on Monday to include a tool that can find and eliminate the unwanted data in JPG files. NeoFinder for Mac costs $39.99 and a free trial is available to download on the developers' website ('https://www.cdfinder.de').

Article Link: macOS JPG File Truncation Bug More Pervasive Than Originally Thought ('https://www.macrumors.com/2020/05/01/macos-jpg-truncation-bug-widespread/')
This article title is wrong. The files are not being truncated. Rather, data is being appended to the end of the files.
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)
citysnaps Avatar
28 months ago

Is it possible this is more than just a "bug"? Apple makes a LOT of money from services including iCloud storage fees, and by inflating photo file sizes, more people would be nagged to upgrade their iCloud storage from the initial free 5GB, to a paid tier, to accomodate a larger iCloud Photo Library. There is potential financial motive here - anyone with the know how should look carefully at all files stored in iCloud to see if there is any similar artificial inflation of file size. It reminds me of the Wells Fargo scandal where staff were creating extra accounts in customer names to inflate their numbers...
The answer to your question is no. Relax.
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)
ivarh Avatar
28 months ago
This is a bad bug, but on the other side i would not reccomend converting the .heif files if you are importing them for archiving.

The heif files coming off my iphone 11 pro contains 10 bit color data per channel and this means that in addition of the loss of image quality you get from decompressing a lossy format that .heif is and changing it to jpg that is another lossy format you also loose a lot of color information.

This is not a excuse for apple to not fix the bug but doing this conversion is a bad choice in the first place for archiving.
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Popular Stories

home app ios 16

Apple Confirms iPad Will No Longer Be Supported as a Home Hub in iOS 16

Wednesday June 22, 2022 12:38 pm PDT by
The iPad will no longer be able to be used as a home hub following the launch of iOS 16, iPadOS 16, macOS Ventura, and the HomePod 16 software this fall, Apple confirmed today. As discovered in iOS 16 code by MacRumors contributor Steve Moser, Apple says that the iPad will no longer be supported as a home hub. This information will be displayed in the Home app after updating to iOS 16.A home ...
apple ar headset concept 2

Apple CEO Tim Cook Hints at AR/VR Headset: 'Stay Tuned and You'll See What We Have to Offer'

Wednesday June 22, 2022 6:34 pm PDT by
CEO Tim Cook this week did an interview with China Daily, where he once again commented on on the future of augmented reality and hinted at Apple's work on an AR/VR headset. Render via designer Ian Zelbo Cook said that Apple is excited about the opportunities available with augmented reality, which is not too far off from prior comments that he's made, but he went on to say that people should ...
customize wallpaper setting ios 16

iOS 16 Beta 2 Tidbits: New Wallpaper Colors, Backup Over LTE, SMS Filtering and More

Wednesday June 22, 2022 2:16 pm PDT by
Apple today seeded the second betas of iOS 16 and iPadOS 16 to developers for testing purposes, and the new betas introduce new features and refine some of the changes that Apple made with the first iOS 16 release. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. Lock Screen Photo Wallpaper Customization When customizing a photo on the Lock Screen, there are two new DuoTone and...
Shazam Music Recognition Control Center

iPhone's Built-In Music Recognition Feature Syncs With Shazam App on iOS 16

Tuesday June 21, 2022 7:37 am PDT by
Since the release of iOS 14.2 in 2020, the iPhone has included a built-in Music Recognition feature in Control Center powered by Shazam. And with iOS 16, and also the iOS 15.6 beta, the feature has received a small but useful upgrade. As noted by Twitter user @someone_andrew, songs identified with Music Recognition in Control Center finally sync with the Shazam app. It also remains...
2022 back to school apple

Apple Launches 2022 Back to School Offer: Up to $150 Gift Card With Mac or iPad

Friday June 24, 2022 5:08 am PDT by
Apple today launched its annual "Back to School" promotion for college/university students in the United States and Canada. This year's promotion offers a free Apple gift card with the purchase of an eligible Mac or iPad, rather than free AirPods like last year. Apple is also offering students 20% off AppleCare+ plans during the promotion. Apple is offering a $150 gift card with the purchase ...
ios 16 lock screen feature2

Apple Seeds Second Betas of iOS 16 and iPadOS 16 to Developers

Wednesday June 22, 2022 10:07 am PDT by
Apple today seeded the second betas of upcoming iOS 16 and iPadOS 16 updates to developers for testing purposes, with the updates coming two weeks after Apple unveiled the new software at WWDC and released the initial betas. Registered developers can download the iOS and iPadOS 16 profiles from the Apple Developer Center, and once installed, the betas will be available over the air. Given...
apple ar headset concept 1

Apple Rumored to Announce 'Game-Changer' AR/VR Headset in January 2023

Friday June 24, 2022 2:52 am PDT by
Apple is "likely" to announce its long-rumored mixed-reality headset as soon as January 2023, Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has reiterated. Concept render based on purported leaked information by Ian Zelbo In a detailed post on Medium, Kuo explained that Apple's headset will be a "game-changer" for the augmented-reality and virtual-reality market. Describing some of the headset's...