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How to convert iPhoto Library into Aperture Library with non-destructive edits #1
Shamus Rask's picture
by Shamus Rask
June 14, 2013 - 12:54am

I know there are a million questions on converting iPhoto libraries to Aperture. I am also aware that with the latest versions, there is a commonality between the two. However, I (think) I understand that an Aperture library is significantly smaller as it does not duplicate photos on edits (non-destructive editing).

Assuming that above is correct, is there a way to take an existing (current) iPhoto library and convert it to an Aperture library such that all edited photos are “unified” into a single original photo along the Aperture differential edit file? I'm looking to save disk space.


John Waugh's picture
by John Waugh
June 14, 2013 - 6:10pm

You have a few of choices.
You can simply drag your iPhoto library onto the Projects section of the Library Inspector in your Existing Aperture Library.
You can create a new library and name it old iPhoto library or something, then drag your iPhoto library into that.
You can open iPhoto and File/Open Library in Aperture.

John Waugh, Photographic Images • Apple Certified Trainer• Sport Action Lifestyle Photography

Shamus Rask's picture
by Shamus Rask
June 15, 2013 - 2:12am


Thanks for your response. Just to be clear, each of the 3 options you mention will convert all of my iPhoto edits into non-destructive edits in Aperture? In other words, this will save me a large amount of disk space?


John Waugh's picture
by John Waugh
June 15, 2013 - 2:19pm

Just converting to Aperture won’t generate a smaller library.
If you have been generating duplicate images for each iPhoto edit,yes you will save space from your conversion to Aperture going forward.
I’m not aware of Aperture consolidating previous images from iPhoto edits.
You will need to do some culling of old iPhoto duplicates to gain any immeadiate storage savings.

John Waugh, Photographic Images • Apple Certified Trainer• Sport Action Lifestyle Photography

Thomas Emmerich's picture
by Thomas Emmerich
June 15, 2013 - 6:39pm

I think you are chasing your tail. There isn’t much difference anymore between how iPhoto and Aperture store files. Both keep the original (master) image untouched so you can revert to it and store the edits in a database. Both create a “preview” file that keeps the latest edits.

In the past iPhoto used to “bake in” the edits so that the next time you were actually editing the JPEG file. No more. You can test it easily. Import a RAW image to iPhoto, make an obvious edit such as a nasty crop. Then duplicate the image (command-D). Edit either image with iPhoto’s built-in editor and chose the crop tool again and you’ll see you can undo the crop back to the original image and iPhoto indicates both images are RAW. I don’t recall when iPhoto was changed to operate like this but it has been several years.

If you open your iPhoto library in Aperture and find an old image that shows “edited in iPhoto” and Aperture won’t let you edit it (without duplicating the version first), then that image was edited in the old version of iPhoto that didn’t store edits in a database. Aperture doesn’t let you edit it because you would lose the connection to the original file.

The big difference between Aperture and iPhoto is that in Aperture you can control the size of the preview file or turn it off altogether. That is one way you could save space in Aperture (by disabling previews and deleting them or making them smaller) over iPhoto where you can’t do that.


Hans Douma's picture
by Hans Douma
July 29, 2014 - 9:41am

Although theoretically there is no need to convert an iPhoto library to Aperture, I am planning to do this anyway. The reason: currently the unified library is not recognized by the Media List function nor can it be synced with your iPod or iPhone. This has been reported as a bug, but I don’t know if or when it will be solved. In the meantime it is a major pita

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