Photos for Mac: A Take Control Crash Course
by Jason Snell

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Table of Contents

Import from Aperture into Photos

Just as with iPhoto, Apple has tried to make it easy to import your Aperture libraries into Photos . But the features of Photos differ significantly from those in Aperture, so some information from Aperture ends up in unexpected locations—and some data may not make the transition at all.

**①** The Photos version (right) of an Aperture library (left) retains most, but not all, of the previous library’s stuff.

The Photos version (right) of an Aperture library (left) retains most, but not all, of the previous library’s stuff.

First Time’s the Charm

The act of converting an Aperture library is identical to that of an iPhoto library. Rather than repeat everything here, I recommend first reading the instructions—and warnings—in the Import from iPhoto into Photos chapter.

If you have multiple Aperture libraries, hold down Option when you launch Photos to bring up the Choose Library dialog.

Consolidate iPhoto Libraries

Note: Photos has much less scripting and Automator support than Aperture. But don’t give up hope! Mac OS X Automation has posted several Automator actions for use with Photos, including ones that let you get selected photos and import and export items.

Behind the Scenes

As with iPhoto, when you import an Aperture library into Photos, your existing library remains intact. The net result of the import is that you’ll have two separate libraries on your Mac’s drive: your old Aperture library and a new Photos library. They’ll even have the same name—unless your library contained the word Aperture, in which case you’ll see it replaced with the word Photos. (So a library called 2010 Aperture Library will be imported to a library called 2010 Photos Library.)

If you have a large library, you’re probably worried that a second version of the same library will take up twice the space. But in fact, importing an Aperture library into Photos uses very little additional disk space. See the sidebar Hard Facts about Hard Links, in the previous chapter, for the nerdy details.

Note: Once your Aperture library has been imported into Photos, you can continue to use Aperture as before. However, the app will warn you that if you edit an image or add a keyword in Aperture post-import, those changes won’t transfer to Photos. For all practical purposes, the libraries have become two completely separate sets of data.

Finding Referenced Photos

Many Aperture libraries are populated with photos that haven’t been copied into the Aperture library bundle, but instead reside in some folder on your drive. When you import your Aperture library into Photos, those images will appear in your Photos library, but they’ll still be manually managed.

Strangely, Photos doesn’t seem to mark these pictures as referenced. To see if they’re not stored inside the Photos package, select an image and then look to see if the File > Show Referenced File in Finder command is active. If it is, you can ask Photos to copy the file into the Photos library file by choosing File > Consolidate. (Photos that aren’t stored inside the Photos library are ineligible to be synced with iCloud Photo Library.)

To have Photos not copy images into its library, go to Photos > Preferences > General and uncheck the Copy Items to the Photos Library option.

Adjustments and Edits

If your images in Aperture have been modified via adjustments or brushed-on edits, the edited versions and the originals are imported together into Photos.

Unfortunately, you can’t modify these Aperture adjustments and edits in Photos. If you want to start from scratch, click Clear Adjustment or Revert to Original in the Edit pane to start fresh, or choose Image > Revert to Original.

Making the Move

Photos is a very different app from Aperture, but Apple has endeavored to transfer your data as best it can.

What’s Still There

What’s Missing

**②** Items are imported with geotagging data, but star ratings, flagged status, and even colors are converted into keywords.

Items are imported with geotagging data, but star ratings, flagged status, and even colors are converted into keywords.

Split View, Sort Of

I tended to use Aperture in Split view, with a large image at the top of the media window and a bar at the bottom of the screen showing thumbnails of all of my images. This view made it easier to cruise through collections of photos.

You can configure Photos to display a similar view by double-clicking an image and choosing View > Show Split View. Drag the edge of the thumbnail pane to make it wider or narrower.