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Where to start? (new to Mac and Aperture) #1
scottb's picture
by scottb
February 9, 2014 - 10:31pm

I have multiple cameras, a Canon EOS400D (aka a Rebel in the US I think), a Canon S100, the wife’s Nikon point and shoot plus various phones. Was previously running only Windows machines and just imported all photos using their respective software in the “My Photos” folder - everything defaulted to creating new subfolders for each date, although the formats were different.

So, I recently bought a shiny new Macbook Pro, 13” Retina with a 512 GB SSD and 8 GB of RAM. I started iPhoto and imported my photos from my Windows machine and got a bit of a shock when they all went into one big file. Hmmm, ok, more reading and learning to do - so I read about libraries and thought ok, sounds good - then I decided that I wanted to do a bit more with my photos - they are in multiple formats from RAW to JPG, but I’m not a professional photographer so I though Aperture sounded like  it would do the job (I’m not saying that Aperture is not suited to professional photographers).

Bought the software and downloaded and installed, read a bit of the manual, started ‘er up, opened the iPhoto library, looked around and then sat and thought, I wonder if I could have done this better. Should I have left the originals outside of the library and referenced them, how should I organise projects, albums, folders, and which comes first.

So now I’m procrastinating and would welcome any hints, tips, experiences, suggestions or the like - what works for you?



Thomas Emmerich's picture
by Thomas Emmerich
February 10, 2014 - 6:38am

Here’s a lengthy article on it by Joseph at

Try searching for “organize” on this site for several more articles on organization.

Joseph also wrote another organization article for

Check out the live training on ApertureExpert (click the Live! link at the top of every page). Some of the earliest training videos cover importing and organizing.


scottb's picture
by scottb
February 10, 2014 - 9:58am

Thanks Thomas

Some really good info in those links. I suppose my only remaining question, for now, is do I keep everything in a single file library, or reference individual images? My iPhoto library is around 60GB and I can’t help feeling that a file that size is more susceptible to corruption which means I’ve lost the lot - yes I have time machine running, but I’m still a little edgy about it.


smb's picture
by smb
February 10, 2014 - 8:46pm

I am in the camp of maintaining several libraries; one for each year. Makes moving them much easier compared to one (soon to be) gigantic file.

Also would consider (and you may have done this) organizing everything on an EHD so you don’t fill up that new Mac.

Personally given your description, I would have managed files. Other than size, and the latitude in editing, RAW/JPEG  won’t effect your your organization.


scottb's picture
by scottb
February 11, 2014 - 8:31am

Thanks Stan,

I think I might use a variation of your system - keep the current year on the internal drive in its own library and everything else in an archive library on an external drive.


smb's picture
by smb
February 13, 2014 - 7:05pm

My goal was to avoid huge libraries. There always seems to be a time when they need to be transferred for more storage etc. 

This forum is full of frustrated folks who try to move a gigantic library and something stalls, or it takes three days…

For me with a date on the image and Project # it is pretty easy to find an old file. But in the end it is whatever works for you in terms of finding stuff. It is quite frankly why I have stuck with Aperture. I find the Library/Project organization very intuitive. Tried LR and it didn’t work for me.


Jeff's picture
by Jeff
February 13, 2014 - 9:47pm

I use a managed library.  At the rate you are shooting for an enthusiast the managed should not grow too terribly quickly.  That said, referenced and splitting managed are also just fine.  Congrats, you have 3 good options!


Walter Rowe's picture
by Walter Rowe
February 13, 2014 - 10:02pm

Here is my interpretation of Lightroom’s Catalogs vs Aperture’s Library system. Imagine that each Aperture Library only had one project. That is equivalent to a Lightroom Catalog. Lightroom then has Collections and Collection Sets. I equate these to Aperture Albums and Folders. On top of that, each Lightroom Catalog is effectively like an Aperture Referenced Library. The difference is that Lightroom exposes the Finder level folders to you via it’s interface where Aperture doesn’t.

David Jenkins's picture
by David Jenkins
February 14, 2014 - 7:41am

I must be very old fashioned at this organising things. No doubt if I had to start again, I perhaps could do better.

I use a managed Library.  Have done since the beginning.  But. I have 3 backups!  Daily, once  a week, once a week that alternates on an off site location.  I use Vault to handle  all that.  Works for me as I don’t have to sweat on what happens.

However its grown so big, that should I need to re-install it, it would probably take a day or so.  

Being older fashioned still, I keep all daily shoots in a Project of their own.  In date order.  I use heaps of Folders and Albums to separate out versions for various functions. Client, Webpage, Flickr, Print, 

I put each years work in a Folder for that year.  Months inside that, days as projects inside that. 

Why I like AP3 is that all work is key worded  and should someone ask for an image of a Yellow Car on a River, shot in Autumn, at Evening, then it can be found in few seconds. 

I’ve recently changed subject matter to Birds, and  wildlife conservation.  Just added keywords to match. 

The AP3 Library resides on an external drive,  gave up long time ago trying to make it fit on the iMac, and when I travel, I either take it, (a copy ok), or export the images to a library that fits on a large USB stick. Just sync it up when I get back.  

What to do with the iPhoto library. Keep it as an iPhoto Library and open if needs be in AP3.  We copied out work files from iPhoto years ago, and never looked back.  But we still have a few personal shots in an iPhoto library.    

I really like not having to manage files, folders and images.  AP3 knows where they are. Need a shot for a specific job, or a set size or an effect.  AP3 Export rocks. I’ve made so many presets to handle every request I’ve ever had. No trip out of a directory, into photoshop, resize, etc, then save as.    

Life is too short.

Enjoy AP3 it helps me sleep at night.

Joseph has some good info on the organization thing and I’ve picked up great tips from his articles and video training. 



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