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Customizing the Aperture Full Screen Interface

PhotoJoseph's picture
May 3, 2012 - 12:00am

Following up on yesterday’s article “Customizing the Aperture Interface”, today we’ll dive into the Full Screen mode. There aren’t nearly as many options here, but that’s somewhat the point… Full Screen is a stripped-down, only-what-you-need view of your photos.

To prove the point of simplicity, here’s what you get when you hide everything. I’ve left metadata on just to show that it’s actually the Aperture UI; otherwise it’d just look like a photo!

Full Screen Aperture, all UI hidden except the Metadata (tap to view larger)

Toolbar, Filmstrip and HUD

On the other extreme, here’s everything turned on. This screenshot is at 1280 × 720 which is smaller than most of you would work, so you’ll likely see smaller interface elements and larger images. The Toolbar, the Filmstrip, and the HUD (heads up display) are all enabled here.

The toolbar, filmstrip and HUD are all turned on here (tap to view larger)

The Toolbar and Filmstrip will each automatically slide into view as you move your mouse to the top and bottom of the screen, respectively. When they slide in, they will cover the photo temporarily, and if you want them to stay put, click the lock icon on each bar. When you do, the photo will shrink a bit to make room for the now-fixed UI element.

Locks on the Toolbar, the Filmstrip and the HUD

Move the Filmstrip

The Filmstrip can be moved to the side of the screen if you like as well. There isn’t a keyboard shortcut for this, but you can just drag it around. You won’t see it moving until it jumps to the side, so just drag until it pops.

The Filmstrip can be moved to the side as well (tap to view larger)

Hide the HUD while adjusting

One of the coolest features in Full Screen mode is that you can hide the HUD while you’re dragging a slider. The HUD is of course necessary if you’re making adjustments, however it’s also quite large. Instead of having it take up a big portion of your screen (making your photo smaller), or having it float over your photo (hiding a big piece of it), you can make everything except the single slider you’re dragging disappear.

While in “floating” mode (meaning, the HUD is not locked/docked), hold down the Shift key while you drag a slider. The entire HUD, minus the slider you’re touching, will disappear!

Make the HUD disappear by holding the Shift key while dragging a slider

This gives you the best of all worlds; maximizing your screen real estate to see your photo as big as it can possibly be displayed, while at the same time having full access to the adjustment tools.

Keyboard shortcuts

When in Full Screen mode, to truly get the most of it you’ll want to know as many keyboard shortcuts as possible. F will take you in and out of Full Screen mode, H will show/hide the HUD, arrows to navigate images, Control-1, 2, 3 etc to show just 1, 2, 3 star images, and so-on. Know your brushes… X to get the retouch brush, A to go back to the main selection tool (“arrow”), and more. If you have to reach for the tool with the mouse, figure out the keyboard shortcut and memorize it. You’ll be flying through edits in no time.

Apple Aperture

The absolute biggest annoyance I have with Aperture is something they changed in Fullscreen mode, for Lion - and thats the blanking of aditional monitors when you use Fullscreen mode.

Previously, I would have my browser with email and customer notes (frequently this would be a listing of the photos I was going to be editing for them) up on my second monitor, and Aperture in full screen “don’t bug me” mode on the iMac screen. Since Lion came out, that second monitor gets a dull, blah looking blanking plate put over it. Even worse - since I now use Airplay a ton (using a tool call Parrot) I will frequently also have my TV as my third monitor up playing something for the kid - one click of the F key, and everything gets blanked off.

If anyone knows how to get rid of that - I’d be forever in your debt!


I’m sorry to say that you’ll be remaining debt-free for a while longer. This is very irritating, and unfortunately I don’t know a way around it. I too have multiple displays and deal with the same thing.

I basically don’t use full screen anymore on my iMac unless I’m only doing Aperture. In a situation like yours, I’ll just fill the screen with the window and make the Viewer as large as possible.

sorry :(

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What drives me nuts is that the full screen toolbar, HUD and filmstrip locks don’t behave the same way as each other. On one, the lock could show it unlocked, and it stays on-screen. On another, the lock shows locked, and it also stay on-screen. Very discomforting when I’m trying to lock/unlock the toolbar, HUD and filmstrip.

You can see in your screenshot ApertureExpert-full2-s.png that two of the locks are locked, but the HUD is unlocked, even though all the elements are showing on-screen. I keep expecting one of the Aperture updates to unify this full screen lock experience, but it hasn’t happened yet. Just a detail I know, but I sweat the details.


The toolbar and film strip are consistent; you lock it to keep it on, unlock and they slide away.

The HUD though I think is backwards, and I think it’s a bug. When you lock it it should snap to a side and push the photo out of the way, and if you unlock it it’s free floating and will sit over the photo. However it’s reversed, and AFAIK it’s just a bug.

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