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Aperture is Dead. Long Live Photos!

PhotoJoseph's picture
June 27, 2014 - 9:00pm

I received an official call from Apple PR this morning about the future of Aperture. My phone, twitter and Messages have been ringing off the hook since the announcement was publicly made. But I wanted to take some time to really think this through before shouting from the rooftops. So here we go.

On the surface, it doesn't seem like good news, but there's a lot more to this than a few lines of text. First, the official words.

“With the introduction of the new Photos app and iCloud Photo Library, enabling you to safely store all of your photos in iCloud and access them from anywhere, there will be no new development of Aperture. When Photos for OS X ships next year, users will be able to migrate their existing Aperture libraries to Photos for OS X.” — Apple, Inc.

In short, Aperture as we know it is dead. So let's take a step back and figure out what this really means, because obviously photography is far from unimportant to Apple. There are more questions than answers now than ever before, and I'll try to come up with all the right questions and all my best answers. Call this interpretation, speculation, or clairvoyance — but here's how I'm reading into this.

Why? Why Photos 1 and not Aperture 4?

Before we can look to the future, let's look at the past. Aperture itself has been around since 2005; nearly a decade. And of course it started being written well before that, so we are talking about 10+ year old code. The cloud, the iPhone, and pocket sized digital cameras that surpass the quality of film not only didn't exist, but were barely a twinkle in Steve Jobs' or any technologist's eye. Aperture is a photo editing and management tool written for users used to an old school workflow. Go on a shoot. Sit down to edit. Share when you're done. But that's not the world we live in anymore. Today we want to shoot, share immediately with a cool effect, edit on an iPad, sit down at your 4k display and get serious, pick up the iPad and show off what you've done, mix, repeat. We want our devices, our libraries, our experience integrated and seamless. This simply can not happen with Aperture as it is today.

This is a case of evolution vs revolution. Apple could continue to evolve Aperture, and to be honest I wish they had—in 2011, 2012, 2013. But now it's too late. Now it's time to focus on the future. The next generation of photos architecture. The revolution. We saw this in the WWDC 2014 keynote. We saw Photos in iCloud. We saw seamless integration between an iOS device and the desktop. We saw a glimpse of features that clearly couldn't exist in Aperture. We saw the future.

Everything could be based on PhotoKit. It is now for iOS, but that same thing could happen in OS X. That would mean seamless integration between iOS and OS X, and unheard of third party developer access. We saw the new raw processing engine with lens correction and phenomenal noise reduction, for example, in WWDC sessions. All the groundwork is in place for an amazing experience.

For those of you who edit video, you'll remember the transition from Final Cut Pro to Final Cut Pro X. It sucked. Big time. And frankly, Apple handled the PR of that poorly. Major features were missing, the software was buggy as hell, and yet Apple told the Pro market that it was time to move. After some serious backlash they relented, and re-relesed Final Cut Pro 7 for the existing users, so they could wait for FCP X to mature. And mature it has. Today, Final Cut Pro X is an amazing piece of software. Apple isn't making that mistake with Aperture. But it doesn't change the fact that it's time to move on.

For a happier look at the migration path, look at iWork — Pages, Keynote and Numbers. Great apps that were developed long before iOS, and once iOS came out, new versions of those apps showed up there. Lots of feature parity, lots of feature disparity. The more the iOS versions advanced, the more inferior the OS X versions felt. Until finally, Apple threw away the old apps, and released all new versions that were based on the same new code. At first, all the features of the old iWork weren't there. But Apple worked relentlessly and continued to update the software (free updates, by the way) and today those apps are fantastic. And more to the point, they are virtually identical across platforms (except for font support. Don't get me started on font support). 

Now, it's the third time for this to happen. To your photos. And it has begun.

Will version 1 have all the features of Aperture 3?

Very unlikely. Apple has stated that users will be able to migrate their existing libraries. They have also stated that there will be at least one maintenance release to ensure that Aperture is fully compatible with OS X Yosemite. Put those together, and it tell us that just because you can migrate, doesn't necessarily mean that you should. Since they say that you can however, that has to mean that any existing effects and metadata will be intact. I just wouldn't necessarily expect to be able to edit them in version 1. As evolves however, at some point you should have all the same features — and of course a ton of new ones.

When should I migrate to Photos?

It's too soon to tell that now, but I'd wager that iPhoto and beginner Aperture users will be able to migrate immediately, while more advanced Aperture users may want to wait for another version or two. Since Aperture will continue to be supported at minimum for OS X Yosemite, personally I think version 1 will be fun to play with, and probably start a new library with. Maybe not for pro work, but I'll use it where I can. The integration between iOS and OS X will be too sweet to ignore. And as long as it has the “open in editor” feature, I can always use Photoshop and plug-ins for anything Photos can't do. Then as progresses, once the legacy Aperture is no longer needed, I'd migrate my entire library. It'll take time, but it won't stop me from doing my job. And I think it'll be worth the wait.

I'm a pro—I don't need iOS iCloud iPad iShare

No? That's OK, I still enjoy shooting film, too. But for the rest of the world that has gone digital, this is happening. You may not be posting your client shoots to Instagram, but your clients are getting more demanding. Wanting on-site reviews. Remote reviews! Fast turnaround to their never-ending change requests. High resolution images delivered to prepress and small ones for their Facebook page. All these iFeatures will come in handy. 

What if OS X was more like iOS from a developer standpoint?

OK, now let's have some fun. Think about your iPhone or iPad for a minute. You shoot or import or download a photo, and where does it go? To the Photos app. That' a super simple app today, but we already know that's changing. OK.

Now, think about all the other third party photo apps on your iPhone. Where do they get their photos from? Photos app. Where do they put them when you're done editing them? Photos app. Some have their own storage as well, but thats only for one reason — to maintain non-destructive edit-ability. Even iPhoto for iOS works that way.

Now, look at iOS 8. We already know that iOS 8 elevates third party apps to the same level as Apple apps. They can access the same library in the same way that native apps can. So that whole “store it in your own app” issue should go away.

What does that mean? Simply put, that Photos is a single storage location for all your pictures, regardless of what app you choose to edit them with. Pretty cool, right?

Now for the big reveal.

Consider the possibilities

Extrapolate that to OS X. What if OS X worked the same way? What if Photos for OS X was built on PhotoKit, and what if PhotoKit was integrated into the OS itself. What if third party apps on OS X could access your photo library the same way that iOS apps can (and will be able to in iOS 8)?

Suddenly you have an ecosystem where the library is the hub. No more one-time, stuck-with-it-forever decision if you should use Aperture or Lightroom or Bridge or anything else. stores your photos and allows some level of editing. Future Nik plugins apps access that same library. Future Lightroom accesses the same Library (!!). Future Photo Mechanic. MacPhun, onOne, Alien Skin… name your app, name your plugin. In this utopian future, all apps have the same access to all photos. PhotoKit could make that possible.

Now that's cool. All this on a photo library based in the cloud.

1TB isn't enough for me

We saw in WWDC that Apple will have pricing plans for iCloud up to 1TB, which we've already observed isn't enough. But that's an easy problem to solve. So don't worry about that. I think by the time you're ready to move your entire 5TB Aperture library to Photos, there will be an iCloud option available to you.

Sounds great, but eff this, I'm outta here!

Undoubtedly Apple will lose some users to Lightroom. That's inevitable, and I'm not going to say “they'll be back!”. But they probably will :-) As before, for most of us diehard Aperture users, we've added plugins or other apps to enhance the Aperture experience to do everything Lightroom does, and more. There's no reason for that to change. At least now, finally, we can see the future, and we don't need a crystal ball to do it. 

What does this mean for

Well, a name change at minimum :-) Any suggestions? I'm serious… I looked at but it's owned and is being held anonymously. I'm open to suggestions, because the future of this site will be awesome. I will be able to write about not only a single app and it's plugins, but any OS X or iOS app that connects to the Photos architecture. I smell growth.

Now, go make some photos

We can chat and comment and speculate and pontificate endlessly about this, but at the end of the day, if you're not out shooting, none of this matters. So stop reading, and go make some pretty pictures. And dream big about the future. Because it's coming, and it'll be awesome.


I've responded to the many comments here in a new post, “Comment Follow-up on the Demise of Aperture”. Please read that before commenting here. Thanks!

Official Apple image of Photos on OS X YosemiteOfficial Apple image of Photos on OS X Yosemite
Apple Aperture Apple Photos for macOS

Since you’ll be supporting both Aperture and Photos for a while. how about ‘’ as a new domain name?

I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for feature parity between Photos for Mac OS and Aperture.

The iPhone was simultaneously the best thing and worst thing to happen to Apple. It has enriched the company beyond its wildest imaginations. And it has driven the company to slavishly follow the needs of the average “consumer” rather than the professional user. Even the more sophisticated amateur users are left out when the features are omitted and simplified. Witness the recent dumbing-down of the old iWork applications. Pages, for example, is unusable.

Although I’d love to give Apple another chance, I’m afraid it’s not worth it. I can’t continue to import my material into Aperture when the exit strategy isn’t clear. I’d rather begin the migration to LR and reduce the future workload.

What a joke. Apple sits silent, then drops the bomb. I can’t imagine doing LR. Everything about it gives me a headache. Why not just keep Aperture as a database to store files? Or keep it as it is? I use NIK to process anyway. Whats next, nix Logic while there at it? Complete disregard for the loyal ones. What a joke.

The Aperture and iPhoto Libraries are the same and iPhoto is also being terminated in favour of a single, unified Photos app with plug-ins.

This makes sense for OS X and iOS because photos (and videos) have become as ubiquitous in use as fonts.

I made the transition to Lightroom a couple of years ago. Believe me, I went kicking and screaming, but at some point Adobe’s Camera Raw became too good to pass up. However, I still used Aperture to store my finished images. I still love Aperture’s workflow better. Its storage management is far better. And its integration with OS X is wonderful. So I’ll be interested to see how Photos works. I’ll probably use that for my finished images. I just hope it has the keyword capability of Aperture.

I’ve been thinking about this non-stop…  Like many have posted, you don’t have to jump ship today, but you have to have a plan for the future.

Yes, I can continue to use Aperture to edit RAW and organize as I have been for years, even when Yosemite arrives. Do you have to upgrade to Yosemite? No… I will upgrade.

When I do upgrade, I’m sure the migration of the Aperture library into the Photo App will be fine (for the most part). Do I want to upload my entire library to iCloud? NO!! I’m assuming Photo App will not allow one to store images on a HD as the purpose of this to eliminate files and use iCloud to house information and yes, it’s accessible by iPad, iPhone, etc.  While I use Photo Stream, it’s from snap shots from my iPhone, that’s it. 

So, my plan is to switch to LR5 (tutorial time…) and keep Aperture as it is. IF, I can store my Aperture images in Photo App without having to use iCloud, then great. If not, then here’s to hoping that a migration tool helps move the images to LR5. It may take a year after Yosemite is out for a 3rd party to make moving the images easy or Apple working with Adobe will design something to help, leaving all the information intact. 

Again, putting it all into Photo App is great, just not all on iCloud and paying for more space because Yosemite won’t house photos on a my mac/ext HD’s, etc. 



Thanks Joseph. I agree almost completely upon your comment. 

Time will tell.

Meanwhile, I carry on with Aperture. Since I learned last year all possibilities of this software (i.e. 70% I didn’t know yet), I am giving a training now in our local Apple authorised reseller store. People are so enthusiastic! E.g. about the slideshow possibilities and especially the Places Theme of slideshows.

You can do still a lot with this software the coming two years, before migration to a newer (2nd or 3rd) version of Photos.

So do not panic and wait for Photos and do not switch to Lightroom.


Ruud Hennequin

Will this new version of Photos allow one to keep the library on a HD or does it have to go on iCloud?

I guess you will have both options. Otherwise you cannot edit your photos in the middle of nowhere.

Ruud Hennequin

I think the only people that know for sure have signed NDAs but if Photos follows Pages, Numbers, and Keynote you will be able to choose local or cloud and you will be able to change your mind at any time. That sounds very interesting to me…

About the new forum names:

1. MacPhotosExpert

2. PhotosAppExpert

3. PhotosAppertureExpert ;-)


Ruud Hennequin

In my previous comment I said: do not switch to Lightroom.

Not that Lightroom is bad. I am even giving the same training for Lightroom as I do with Aperture.

It is just that you will miss all your Aperture adjustments and organisation if you want to migrate your libraries to Lightroom (which is basically possible).

So wait what the (Photos) future brings.

Here is a good explanation.

Ruud Hennequin

This is not good news from Apple for a whole range of reasons that have been expressed above.  I intend to stick with Aperture as long as possible and wait and see what is available 18 months down the line.  Who knows what the new photos app will be like?  I would guess not as powerful as Aperture out of the box but over time with specific plugins from developers it could be powerful.  I have let Apple know about my disappointment by leaving feedback on their feedback page.

Send your feedback (

jim henderson/smugmug

LOL @ “Lipstick on a pig”…yeah pretty much.

Noting can really be decided though until we see the in action. All this is speculation which may or may not end up true. What if there are hidden menus to provide the same controls now in Aperture?…could be. For now, screw you Apple. I feel dirty.

I’ll wait. 

LOL @”Lipstick on a pig”…yeah pretty much.

Nothing can really be decided though until we see the in action. All this is speculation which may or may not end up true. What if there are hidden menus to provide the same controls now in Aperture?…could be. For now, screw you Apple. I feel dirty.

I’ll wait. 

How about PhotosXpert for the new name?

Richard Smith

Best one so far!

I agree - great name choice!

I know I’m in the minority here, but my 3 years spent with Aperture were punctuated with daily crashes, painfully slow exports, and round trips to plugins. When I left this year, I quickly realized what I had been missing. Now I have no doubt. I still love my Apple computers though.

And that’s why I look forward to a new approach. I’ve used Aperture since v.2. Moved to LR for 2 years, then came back. But its time Aperture was retired. For years Apple did little to nothing of substance with a product that is not all that stable and missing some important features without round-tripping. Whether its new Apple or new Other, its the same other than the fact we have one more choice.

Not looking forward to the transition (memories of Final Cut are still lingering) but think that the end result will be a good one moving forward into the future. Those of us that remember transferring data from legions of floppy discs onto CD’s then Hard Drives and now the cloud will understand that its the transition that sucks but I think would agree that the end result is far better than what we had got so comfortable with.

Bring it on Apple and lets beam up those photos!


PS Love the suggested name of for the new site

Richard Smith

I’ve been using Apple products since 1991 and I’ve learned not to panic when they decide to re-write an APP / Programme as at least 99% of them show a great improvement.

I’ve used Final Cut Pro since version one and I did not panic & go rushing off to other software as I knew that I would have had to learn that anyway and I trusted Apple to make significant improvements that would be worth the wait.   

I didn’t upgrade to FCP X until it had the specs that I needed, I just worked away with FCP7 as that was still doing what I needed to do.  Now I’m so impressed with FCP X it is so far ahead in what is achievable in every aspect of editing.

I am sure that if everyone could just wait and see what they are bringing to the table, work away with Aperture (as that will not change)  as they are used to doing, give it some time for the updates to come along and then make their minds up.



When I first read the  ”Apple will help transition to Lightroom” comment I thought it odd and now it seems to be in question. TechCrunch has removed it and only AppleInsider seems to still have that comment on their site. Here’s a redit commentary noting the same:


I agree with the thoughts about having to use the iCloud storage.  I want the ability to put my photos on an external hard drive, access them by any editing program from that hard drive and keep a copy on an external hard drive and in a secure place. The expense of storing my 3 TB is not something I want to have to take out of my pocket.  Ye Gads!

As to keywords: I am both a photographer and a veterinarian and do a lot of keywording (and its ability to search) as an aid to finding examples of animal behavior or samples of typical wildflowers and instantly grouping the photos I need for a lecture.

I am waiting to see what the future holds: an Apple for my photography health or a worm in the Apple that I cannot spit out…

As to a new handle for you, how about 

this news sucks and there is no way I’m storing my info and photos on a effing cloud I have been a staunch Apple fan but I am really pissed about this.

This new Photos app is as bad or worse than the iWatch … oh wait! Neither has ever been seen in the wild. Stay calm and carry on.

Bill Booth

this news sucks and there is no way I’m storing my info and photos on a effing cloud I have been a staunch Apple fan but I am really pissed about this.

Barry said:  ”if everyone could just wait and see what they are bringing to the table”

The problem with that is Apple has lost serious credibility with the power user & pro community due to repeated releases of software dumbed down for iOS with missing functionality and critical functions. This has happened  across multiple software categories.  

There is no reason to believe it is not happening again.  Apple has made no statement regarding their continued support of the pro photographer community.  

Adobe on the other hand has made such a statement.

Given Apple’s recent history or releases, and the lack of any statements about support to the pro community,  I have no desire to continue to import my material into Aperture. I am beginning my search for a replacement now so as to reduce the future workload.

I agree.

I guess if they make the editing similar to iPhoto for example so that anyone can “edit”, Aperture users that do RAW editing will have to use plug-in’s to PP then place the final image in Photos. As well as what others posted, the choice of more plug-in’s down the road will help. 

Have to see what shakes out over the next few months… 

RAW is handled at the OS level for Aperture and iPhoto. I suspect the new Photos will allow for a plug-in to offload for prosumers. I’ve worked with Apple engineers on RAW implementation and they are frustrated by the poor communication with the  Japanese overseers. Remember that Apple also has to coordinate other protocols at the OS-level which even Adobe relies on. Now that many cameras are going to be wi-fi direct this is a growing demand requiring applicable resources. The whole Aperture/LR structure is very linear and reliant on cataloguing through physical intermediaries such as SD/CF cards, external hard drives, and so on. Those are increasingly archaic systems.

Pros and high-end consumers who  rely on those workflows are frankly a tiny fraction of photography and a declining user base. We know this because it is why Adobe went to the Creative Cloud subscription model.

Aperture is like my right arm.  I use it every single day and know it like the back of my hand.  I, too, have absolutely ZERO interest in using ANY form of cloud-based storage.  And even less interest in using software that requires a monthly subscription (Adobe can stick it!).  Apple seems to just be moving in the same direction as Adobe… figuring out ways to separate a consumer from his money on a subscription basis.  Screw that!

As for a new name for the site, perhaps “”?  :)


Maybe we can learn to love the icloud. Presumably, it will be more secure with built in redundancies than my LaCie 1TB drive that just died, or than the iMac and External drives that my wedding photog friend had stolen from her studio by a disgruntled assistant (true story). My equipment pusher assures me that hard drives WILL die; just a matter of when.

Bill Booth

Cloud storage will be an alternative to your own device storage. How that is implemented is a question, but we already know the storage limits.

Anyone who does NOT use cloud backup is, IMO, missing out on the best advantage which is offsite backup. I use Time Machine and Aperture Vault, the latter of which is routinely updated to CrashPlan.

As for subscription models, you may not have a choice. Companies need constant revenues and the longer and longer upgrade cycles and backwards compatibility and virtual systems caused severe revenue issues for Adobe amongst others, especially in a multi-OS interconnected market. 

“Maybe we can learn to love the icloud. … hard drives WILL die; just a matter of when.”

I’ve no doubt hard drives will die.

I’ve no doubt I’ll learn to love the iCloud.

But at the moment, Aperture runs acceptably if my images are on my local SATA drive. It runs uncomfortably slowly if they’re on USB. It’s unacceptable if they’re on a wi-fi drive.

So would it be acceptable if my images were in iCloud?

When Apple, or anyone else, can provide me with an internet connection at SATA speeds (at a reasonable cost) - then I’ll love the iCloud.

Anaxagoras, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK

As always, some interesting insight from Thom Hogan on the topic:…


Ralph Mawyer

San Antonio, Tx

One other point… You can’t compare the iMovie/Final Cut Pro X situation to what is happening with Aperture.  Final Cut Pro X is STILL an application designed with the PROFESSIONAL in mind.  Photos will clearly NOT be targeted at professionals.

And I DON’T WANT my photos stored in the cloud.  I shoot RAW and my images are, on average, about 28MB in size.

The only professional (or serious) photographers that Photos is going to work for are the ones that shoot all of their images with an iPhone.  If you shoot with a digital SLR, by abandoning Aperture, Apple is clearly telling you to go love Adobe.  Apple is surrendering the professional photo editing market to Adobe.  Screw that!

The LAST thing the Aperture community should be doing is lying down and accepting this without a fight.


I think I have been viewing this the wrong way. I have been thinking that I needed to plan a re-org of my catalogue anyway. This is an opportunity, to start anew. Thank you Apple! Today I will create a new Folder called LR2014. Starting today all images downloaded from any camera, will go there.  I will continue to use Aperture as cataloguing software, but from today forward, not for editing. 

Just to be perfectly clear. Apple messed up with FCP X and almost NO PRO EDITOR had gone down that route. They chose either Premiere or Avid. 

Actually there was a big outcry when FCPX came out. After some time (and first updates) many professionals realized that it actually is an astonishingly good pro application.

Not trying to be patronizing here, butI have heard this comment from alot of non-pro-editors for some years now….  that somehow the editors have now started to getting used to FCP X, and now everything is just fine. 

WRONG WRONG WRONG. I have worked in the business for along time, with BIG installments of FCP in broadcasting world. 

The pros left, and there are some consumer-wedding-hobby editors that have started to use it for their work. 

I think Apple will probably end up doing the same with Aperture as they did to FCP… and we will get the same reactions from non-pros.  ”people were sceptical, but now everything is fine”

Don’t patronize. I see FCP used by pros constantly, especially big houses.

FCPYES.  FCP X.. NO. We used to have an all FCP solution, and I loved the program. FCP X destroyed all that.

I meant FCP X.

Are you talking about actual editors working on FCP X on broadcasting material that is shown on nationwide channels? 

I would love to know which production houses have chosen this method. 

A few years ago Apple used the FCP webpage to tell us which films and tv-series were edited on FCP. Seems like they have given up now, and are just refering to companies you have never heard about.

What is the best app for analog photographers? (need retouch.. dust removing.. and don’t work with too many photos)

As much as I prefer Aperture to Lightroom, I now feel like an idiot for believing in Apple and going the Aperture route.  I sure wish Steve Jobs was still with us.  I bet he wouldn’t have given up on Aperture.  Apple has morphed into a “we surrender” company that last year or two.  Sad.


There is no reason to feel like an idiot. To the contrary - there is a good chance staying loyal pays off later. As Thom Hogan put it - this move by Apple might actually be the horror for Adobe. The Aperture DNA on any future Apple device? Better integrated than ever? Extensible by the worlds best developers? It’s clear that they are doubling their efforts now. They are by far not finished with their try to even integrate their own apps. They are their own platform and don’t play all to well with the environment around them. It really get interesting now.

Aperture is the single most important application on my computer.  I can’t live with “maybes” or “might be”.  I need FACTS and assurances from Apple, not guesses from 3rd parties as to what might happen.

Hey, I’m just as guilty as anyone of drinking the Apple Kool-aid.  But Apple just told the world that it’s not going to develop its professional photo editing app anymore.  The Kool-aid is tasting pretty damn bitter right now.


Actually the Apple feed to media outlets was that the Photos app would replace BOTH the consumer and professional applications.

I think Thom Hogan is bang on.


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