Impossible to efficiently remove video data from Apple’s “Live” Photos

Is there no end to my Apple Photos disappointments? No, there is not.

My wife loves Apple’s proprietary “Live” photos feature, which brackets an image with a few seconds of video. The best are delightful (like the oven pancake in the previous post), but many don’t work out, and even more are just flat-out accidental (taken without even realizing the feature was enabled). So we now have about 3000 of these things (and that’s after a lot of deletions), and the video for 90% of them is just a waste of storage space. Quite a lot of storage space. Video is big.

So, can you get rid of the video data, preserving the photo? No, you cannot! Save yourself some time and stop trying right now.

There literally no good-enough way to strip video data from a large batch of live photos.‍ You can non-destructively disable the video, and that’s fine for disabling video you might want to restore, but utterly useless for trimming the video data you know you don’t care about from of hundreds or thousands of photos.

There are some awkward workarounds, and the least awful of them is that you can strip the video data out of a photo using the iOS Photos App. But that’s not where my photos live, and it would be an organizational, data-shuffling nightmare to try to do the job there.

After an hour of research, I decided that this problem has no solution: this is gigabytes of data that I literally cannot get rid of without sacrificing perfectly good photos. Unbelievable? That was my first impression, but this kind of thing is downright predictable with Apple’s software.

I have been working with Photos a fair bit lately, gearing up to attempt to use iCloud Photo Library again, after it had some kind of hissy fit in early 2020, and it just started re-uploading about 160GB of photos one day, because “there are quite a few actions that can cause your entire Photos library to be re-uploaded to iCloud.” Which takes days. And, for Bad Apple bonus points, that process also completely saturates your internet connection, so you can really only let it run at night.

Good grief.