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Backing Up & Moving Aperture Presets

PhotoJoseph's picture
February 6, 2010 - 5:59am

A commenter on MacCreate asked about backing up and moving those precious Aperture presets between systems, so I wanted to post a quick tip on here about that.

There’s some inconsistencies in how presets are handled in Aperture, so there are two different ways to do this. Keyboard shortcut sets, for example, can be exported by using the export menu. But for naming presets, or export presets, you have to dig into the Finder to find those files.

Here’s how you save your keyboard shortcuts.

From the Aperture menu, choose Commands > Export… or Import… to move your keyboard shortcut presets around. Dead easy to do.

For Metadata presets, just as easy. From the gear menu in the Metadata tab, choose to Manage Presets…

That will open this window, which as you can see has an Export button. Again just move the exported file to any other computer, and use the import button to copy them in. 

Top tip… a great way to move these files around is using Dropbox. I’m a convert; I love the service. Such a great way to keep files handy from anywhere (even your iPhone). And just as easy to share folders full of files, or individual files, with anyone, anywhere. But I digress…

However like I said, not all presets are managed so easily. Notice that in this Export Presets window, there’s no Export button to export your export presets (ironic, yes).

Inspired by the last tip where I pointed out Simon Abrams’ tip on editing the XML files, that’s the same place you’d go to back up and move your presets around. Navigating through your home folder (the ~ is “home”, for the less geeky of my readers!) to ~/Library/Application Support/Aperture. In there you’ll find all the relevant files.

You can see which presets are saved there. This folder is the one you’d copy on a USB key or put in your Dropbox and move to another system to move those presets around. Just be sure to move the existing Aperture folder to the desktop, or even better, just right-click > Archive it before putting yours in place, if you want to preserve the previous settings.

Apple Aperture

I can’t seem to find the image export details in the ‘~/Library/Application Support/Aperture’ folder. I only have plugins in that folder, but I have many image export presets that I’d like to export to another Mac.

Any suggestions?


Mountain Lion changed a few things. Read this article and you will probably be able to find what you’re looking for:
Sandboxed Preferences for Aperture

-Joseph @ApertureExpert
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