Let me help you with Apple Photos for OS X

Today, I want to share with you some things about the new Photos app that recently came out from Apple to replace their iPhoto and Aperture apps.

Migrating your old library

Many of you will be migrating a library from either iPhoto or Aperture to Photos. I’ve done both, and neither left me with a smile on my face. The biggest downfall, is the loss of features through the migration.

In both iPhoto and Aperture you could rate your photos using a star rating system. The new Photos app excludes this completely. I’m shocked. Photos has the ability to favorite your photos by clicking the heart icon, just like in the iOS version of the app. You will be able to see your “favorited” photos, but no 5 star rating system. Your ratings become keywords after migrating. For example, a photo with 4 stars will have a keyword “4 Star”. Any smart albums with ratings as criteria will be changed to the new keywords. This was a big loss.

Many features from Aperture are missing, which we knew would happen before the launch. Adjustment presets, metadata presets, exporting presets, adjustments, and probably more. There’s a good Apple Support document about how Photos handles content from iPhoto and Aperture.

The actual migration itself is easy and pretty quick. I converted my Aperture library which had over 17,000 photos and it only took a few minutes. The original Aperture library (.aplibrary) file remains, but is left empty. There is a new Aperture library created with .migratedaplibrary as the file extension. This has the photos in it still, and can be opened in Aperture, but any changes made, won’t be reflected in the new Photos app (In other words, use this library if you decide to continue using Aperture after the migration). The new Photos app creates its own new library called Photos Library.photoslibrary.

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Get the sidebar back

After opening the new Photos for the first time, I almost started to cry because I thought I had lost all of my organization with albums inside folders, etc. All I saw was the very minimalistic look that resembles Photos for iOS. The folders and events/projects are in the Albums tab. But, I really liked being able to see the organizational structure I created. Here’s my biggest tip: you can have a sidebar view again by going to View > Show Sidebar.

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Stay organized

Assuming you take my advice about showing the sidebar, this will help you stay organized. When you import into Photos, there is no longer the option to add your photos into an event. They are just added to the library. I’ve found, the only way to continue this type of organization is to create albums (File > New Album). Each time you import photos, you’ll have to drag them into the album. For further organization you can place albums inside of folders, and folders inside of folders (File > New Folder).

I like to put my events (albums) into years. I suppose this view is available in “Collections”, but I want to see the individual events. So I recommend creating a folder each year, then putting your albums inside.

If you have photos from very different things, such as personal and work, you may want to consider creating separate libraries. Hold the Option key while launching Photos. You’ll have the option to create a new library and choose which library to open. Having multiple Photo Libraries may also help you when it comes to using iCloud Photo Library.

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What’s the iCloud Photo Library?

iCloud Photo Library is storing all of your library photos in iCloud. Using the iCloud Photo Library will allow you to have all of your photos on all of your devices (very cool). It also allows you to make edits on one device, and see those edits on your other devices (also very cool). And probably the best thing about it, is that it can save you space on your devices because the photos are in iCloud. However, if your library is quite large like mine (140+ GB), it will cost you.

You can enable iCloud Photo Library in Photos, and on your devices. In Photos, go to Preferences, and iCloud tab. Then check the box next to iCloud Photo Library. You’ll have the option to store original resolution files on your Mac, or optimize the storage on your Mac, by only storing the originals if there is room. The same option exists in iOS.

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Everyone gets 5GB of free storage with iCloud. This won’t work for larger libraries like mine (140GB+). Apple has iCloud storage pricing for libraries up to 200GB. I think Apple will need to rethink their pricing here, especially considering competitors like Flickr offer 1TB of free storage.

With current iCloud storage pricing plans, you may want to have separate libraries as mentioned earlier. For example, I have created a separate library for photos taken with my photo booth used at weddings. Those don’t need to be with me everywhere, nor do I need to be able to edit them everywhere. The library set as your “System Photo Library” in Photos Preferences, is the one that will sync with your iCloud Photo Library.

In summary

Overall, I enjoy Apple’s intentions to maintain continuity with the look and feel of there Photos app for iOS and the new Photos app on OS X. It makes it easy for anyone to create stunning looking images.

Some things are missing. Organization has changed dramatically with the loss of events & projects from iPhoto and Aperture, respectively. Professional adjustments and presets from Aperture will be missed greatly.

iCloud Photo Library lets us have our photos on all of our devices without taking up the space on each device. Being able to have access to full resolution images and make edits on any device is amazing. The pricing plans for realistically-sized libraries isn’t so fantastic.

If you’re a big time photographer who needs all of the editing and pro features, Photos definitely isn’t for you. You’re going to want to start looking at Lightroom by Adobe.

If you’re a regular person who likes to take photos of the things you see in your daily life and on vacation, Photos will be right for you.

In the end, I’ve found that this migration has made me do some spring cleaning with my photos. It’s good to stay organized, and get rid of the absolute garbage.

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