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Finally Started My Own Upgrade…

PhotoJoseph's picture
February 14, 2010 - 5:24am

So with a whole 30 minutes to spare, I’ve finally begun my own move to Aperture 3. I took one of my client libraries and am starting with that. The fortunate thing of being forced to wait this week is I have the benefit of learning what has and hasn’t worked for other people. While this particular library is quite small (only 17,398 photos), I wanted to take the extreme-caution route. Here’s what I’m doing for this upgrade.

  1. I moved the Aperture 2 library off my MacBook Pro and onto to my Drobo. I’m not upgrading my library; I’m going to import the existing Aperture 2 library into a clean Aperture 3 library (reports are that that works better for large libraries).
  2. I duplicated the Aperture 2 library so there’s no chance of a backfire. Extra precaution, and all that.
  3. I opened the library in Aperture 2 and deleted all previews. Again probably unnecessary, but it reduces the size of the library and since those previews will eventually get rebuilt, they’re not needed.
  4. I then quit A2 and launched Aperture 3 while holding down the option key, which gives you the choice to choose a library or create a new one. I created a new one (on the internal drive, since that’s where I want it for now).
  5. Finally, I chose menu File > Import > Library/Project… and pointed at the A2 library on my Drobo. And away she goes!

Naturally I’ll amend this entry with the results!

Update on February 14, 2010 - 3:55am by Joseph @ApertureExpert

I walked away for quite some time, but by my calculations based off the last time I looked at the import, the entire import took about 90 minutes. After that, Aperture 3 started “processing” the images. It’s currently at 7,948 of 17,398.

My understanding is this processing (since the actual conversion to the 3.0 RAW processing engine will happen later) is simply what Apple calls Upgrading the Database. From the Tips on upgrading an Aperture 2 library to Aperture 3 page on

Upgrading the database and imaging system

The database upgrade is a necessary first step in the upgrade process. The new Aperture 3 database format offers many benefits, including better performance, the ability to split and merge libraries, and switch between libraries without relaunching Aperture.

That makes for a processing time of approximately 3 seconds per image. My machine is a 2.93 GHz Core 2 Duo MacBook Pro 15” with 4GB RAM, and graphics card is set to “performance” (not likely having any bearing on this part of the process).

More tomorrow!

Update on February 14, 2010 - 6:05am by Joseph @ApertureExpert

Reader Jonathan Slack posted this guide over in the forums to the update procedure he found worked best. I’m following some of his guidelines, so please to read what he had to say.

Remember folks, as with everything here, your mileage may vary! And also remember that most people don’t post reports on blogs, twitter, or anything else when things work perfectly. It’s generally only the people that are having problems that are reporting them. So don’t feel that just because much of what read here or anywhere else about how challenging the upgrade is means that the software has problems. It’s absolutely impossible for the testers to test every single possible situation before shipping the software, so don’t be discouraged… rely on your community, move slowly, don’t expect miracles, and by all means… BACK UP ALONG THE WAY! Aperture 3 is phenomenal. Let’s get the best out of it, together!

Update on February 14, 2010 - 7:09pm by Joseph @ApertureExpert

Last night I stopped the update so I could get some other work done, and at the time it had about 10,000 images to “process” still to go.

When I finally knocked off for the night around 3am, I started up the update again. Curiously, there was no more “processing” to be done… the Activity monitor only showed upgrading the thumbnails! Very curious indeed. And by this morning, the process was complete, and there Aperture was sitting idle.

At that point I turned on Faces, and it immediately started processing. After the first 1,000 I did a little math, and it’s averaging 6 seconds per image. For a total of over 17,000 images to process, that’s about 29 hours of processing.

I’m a little nervous about doing my entire 100,000+ image library, but it’ll have to be done eventually. That library alone could take over 12 days on this system. Interesting.

Hey let’s get a little time comparisons going on over in the forum. I’d love to compare how different hardware is handling this! Comment on this forum post with your times.

Update on February 16, 2010 - 5:26am by Joseph @ApertureExpert

This morning the Faces calculation was complete, sometime before 7:30am. It seemed surprisingly fast actually, I wasn’t expecting it to be done yet. But I had also rebooted into 64-bit mode so that may have helped!

Now I’ll kick off the conversion to Aperture 3 raw engine. So far, zero problems with this library upgrade. Again it’s only 17,000 images, but it’s a good first step.

I’m choosing to just do the photos that have already been adjusted and to keep existing versions intact (because this is a client library, and I’d hate to see the image change for the worse and have no way back).

To make the point… there’s really no reason to do this for the entire library. It can easily just be done on an as-needed basis. But what the heck… let’s go for it!

Apple Aperture

HI Joseph
I like your procedure (perhaps a step on from my version!).
I quite agree with you - people only post problems. I’m loving Aperture 3, I’m also finding that most things work better when the computer is running in 64 bit mode:
About this mac / More Info / Software:
64-bit Kernel and Extensions: Yes.
If it says NO then restart holding down the 6 and 4 keys.
I still think it’s worth stopping the activities in Aperture and restarting your machine every couple of hours - it certainly seems to speed things up.
all the best

All the best
Jonathan Slack (


I ran in 64-bit when Snow Leopard first came out; can’t recall now why I switched back. What’s the disadvantage? Will non-64-bit processes (as seen in Activity Monitor) simply not run, or run in emulation, or choke things? iTunes isn’t 64-bit, nor is iWork. And a handful of extensions (but I could probably live without those if pressed…)

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Hi Joseph
I actually avoided Snow Leopard when it first arrived (my poor old Epson 4000 wasn’t up to it).
However, having activated 64 bit mode Aperture is certainly snappier.
Itunes / iWork and VMware all seem to work properly as well (if you look at them in activity monitor they simply omit to say that they are 64 bit.
Unfortunately I’m not the person to unravel this stuff - further than to say that everything I’ve tried to run in the last day or so has worked.

all the best

All the best
Jonathan Slack (

Hi All. If I’m in the process of importing an Aperture 2 library into a new Aperture 3 library is it possible to pause the process (shut down MacBookPro) and pick up with import later at proper spot?



It depends on what stage of the import you are in. If you click on the “Activity” spinner on the bottom of the Aperture window, that will open a window to show you what’s going on. You can select an activity and click “pause”.

However if you’re seeing a progress bar at the top of the Aperture window and can’t do anything else in Aperture, then I’m afraid the answer is no. You’ll just need to let it go.

Let me know if that helps

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Hi Joseph:

That helps. I can click the activity monitor and the pause button is “active”. I’m importing the library off my Drobo. So it is possible to pause, shut down computer and continue process at later date and Aperture 3 knows where it left off?



Yes, that’s the idea. Aperture should pick up where it left off on it’s own. Just to be on the safe side I’d ensure that the Drobo was attached before you launched Aperture again to pick up where you left off though. No idea how it would handle not finding the project it was previously importing. Interesting.

Admittedly it does sound a little scary to interrupt an import but if the process is pause-able, then it should pick right back up. Be sure to report back if you do indeed decide to interrupt it!

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Hi Joseph,
I have started importing my main Aperture 2 Library (45,000 pictures) last night and it is still going on.
My concern is that for the time being, it is still showing the initial window “Upgrading Library: 92% complete (updating imaging - 22,728 remaining). It reduce this number by a couple hundreds shots every two hours or so. It seems to be dead slow and the matter below might be the reason.

Meanwhile, something weird is happening with the “Force Quit Applications” window showing up all the time with the warning in the window “Aperture (not responding) and the following note : “Your Mac OS startup disk has no more space available for application memory. I really don’t know what to do but be patient.

I am using an iMac with 4GB memory and all my other applications are shut.

I will let it go again overnight and will see what happened in the morning.

Thanks for a great site.



Oups! Just read Jonathan’s post and now I understand what I have done wrong! For the same number of pictures as my library, his took only 8 hours. Mine has already gone for 24 hours and I guess it’s gone be another full day if not two before it ends.

Well that will teach me not to be impatient!



Finally, after more than 36 hours of upgrading this big library (753 GB - 43,115 pics) my iMac seemed to have died. Black screen, no noise and would not wake up. I had to reboot.

After rebooting, I found that my Iomega MiniMax 1TB HD was holding TWO Aperture files of 753 GB…!
One was named : Aperture Library_original.aplibrary with 753.8GB (which was supposedly my original A2 file) and the second one was labeled Aperture Library.aplibrary with 753.0 GB.

I copied the original file to a clean Iomega 1 TB HD which took over 14 hours and put it in the trash after copy was completed. I had ultimately the original file on one clean HD and the presumed updated Aperture 3 file on the old HD with its original A2 in the trash. (I have not yet emptied the trash).

Then I tried opening the other file and it did open perfectly with my 43,115 pics all neat on Aperture 3…
Everything seems to be working fine.

I have no idea what happened and why a 1 TB HD could hold two 750 GB files…?

In the meantime, the Face Detection has started and it has been going on for over 24 hours till now and still spinning.

I have been able to do some work on some photos in the meantime.

I hope the above makes sense. Sorry if it is a bit confusing.



Sorry I haven’t been able to respond sooner. I’ve been out of town on my workshop and not really able to get online.

Sounds like you had a perilous upgrade, but that it worked in the end. I’d guess your primary problem was insufficient disk space to begin with. It seems like Aperture really uses a massive amount of space during the upgrade; at least the size of your library itself is needed as available.

I have no idea how you ended up with 1.5TB of data on a 1.0TB drive; that’s a mystery for sure!

Face Detection is indeed slow and will often give you the spinning ball. But it’s a process you can pause (and even disable in the pref’s, and enable again at will). It sounds like you’re past the painful part. Patience is definitely in order in upgrading to Aperture 3.

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