Skip navigation

Managed vs referenced images conundrum

2435 Views 12 Replies Latest reply: Feb 28, 2013 5:02 AM by Kirby Krieger RSS
WoodPlane Calculating status...
Currently Being Moderated
May 6, 2011 10:37 PM

Hello all,

I have started using the Aperture 3 trial for about a week and my head is already swimming over the choices to make over managed vs. referenced images. I've read the manual, the "exploring" doc and several posts with respect to this topic and sometimes feel like I'm off to the races, only to then get stuck in the mud. I'm guessing that my case is not all that unusual and hope that someone who has gone down this road can offer up the solution that worked for them and why. I've worked with Aperture on a small set of photos and would not like to import the rest to use it in earnest. Prior to Aperture, I imported about 7000 photos using the camera manufacturer's software, Canon Image Browser, then also Nikon ViewNX. I previously "organized" these by creating a separate folder for each full CF card, which I named with the camera model and the date range, eg. S70-100907-110112. Once I had enough, I burned a CD as backup.


I have a copy of this organization on my laptop, my desktop and the backup CDs, so for some reason I feel slightly attached to it, though it does not provide much information. For this reason and to more easily be able to see which files I have or have not imported into Aperture (somewhat worried I'll leave something behind), I thought I would use referenced images. I also thought referenced images would allow me to utilize my stack of old 20 - 80 GB hard drives as on & off site backups. I also have a 1 TB OWC external drive that I bought for this purpose and possibly Time Machine (yet another issue to plan out). While copying over the files from the Nikon, I realized that the camera was re-using file names after each upload emptied the CF card. Nikon ViewNX creates a new folder for each upload, so there's no conflict, but I think Aperture may see them as duplicates. I have since asked the camera to use persistent serial numbers for naming files.


I intend to rate all my images, delete the bad ones, then keyword and improve the good ones. Can anyone who has waded through this type of problem share how they came to whatever scheme worked for them?





  • Terence Devlin Level 10 Level 10 (121,765 points)
    Currently Being Moderated
    May 7, 2011 12:39 AM (in response to WoodPlane)

    I'm not really sure what your question is, I'm afriad.


    Aperture will have no difficulty with different files having the same file name. Don't worry about that.


    As to Managed v Referenced:


    1. Size. Large libraries, ones that might outgrow the disk they are on will best be set as Referenced. This will allow you to store the files on other volumes. Small Libraries can be used as Managed. If they grow over time they can afterwards be converted to Referenced. It's not difficult to do. I think the key question in deciding on Managed v Referenced is size, then personal inclination.Referenced Libraries give no extra functionality. You can as easily back up Masters from a Managed Library simply by exporting the Masters.


    2. Vaults. You can only use Vaults with Managed Libraries.






  • Terence Devlin Level 10 Level 10 (121,765 points)
    Currently Being Moderated
    May 8, 2011 12:34 AM (in response to WoodPlane)

    1) Is there an advantage to keeping the file/folder structure I had, or just pull everything into Aperture as managed images and delete the old files & folders.


    There is no advantage or disadvantage. Either will work. Make a choice. As I said above, the key factor is size.


    2) Do I lose any flexibility by using managed images? (Other than vaults, which can be used with referenced files)



    3) How to partition external disks to use with vaults and Time Machine.



    With Disk Utility


    4) How to handle image file that have the same name.



    Don't worry about them. Aperture will do that for you.


    A Vault for a Managed Library is a complete back up of the Library. A Vault for a Referenced Library is not much of a back up as you also need a back of the referenced files. Actual saved disk space? Zero.


    I have considered using 2 separate libraries, one for snapshots and another for what would call attempts of a more artistic nature. Is there an advantage (or disadvantage) to using more than one library?


    You can only have one Library open at a times. So, go to search for something and sure as eggs it'll be in the other one... It's also unnecessary. You can do a simple keyword to separate the two kinds: 'Snap' and 'Art'. Now you can restrict your searches to either.


    How does one go about changing a managed master to a referenced master


    File -> Relocate Masters


    and visa versa?


    File -> Consolidate Masters


    All of your questions are about File Management. How you store these files is really the easiest part of using Aperture. Because that's all you do with the files - store them. You don't access them via the Finder, or Photshop or anything else. When you use Aperture it's the "go-to" app for your photos. Anything you want to do with them can be done and should be done via Aperture.  You're over thinking this. File Management is the easiest part of using Aperture. Make a decision. Try it and get on with things. You can undo it later if it seems limiting.






  • Bob Rockefeller Level 1 Level 1 (85 points)
    Currently Being Moderated
    May 8, 2011 6:43 AM (in response to WoodPlane)

    Go with a Managed Library. You'll have access to all features, Aperture will take care of everything seamlessly, you can backup with Vaults, and you can change to a Referenced Library later if you decide to.



    MacPro 8x2.8GHz, 16GB, 3xRAID 0, Mac OS X (10.6.7), MacBook Pro, Aperture, Lightroom.
  • Terence Devlin Level 10 Level 10 (121,765 points)
    Currently Being Moderated
    May 8, 2011 12:03 PM (in response to WoodPlane)

    Again and again I say to you the key question is 'size'. If you have too many photos to comfortably keep on the start-up drive, or expect to in the near future, then run a Referenced Library. If not, you have a choice. No you can't span vaults across drives. So, again, the size thing. How to partition the drive with TM? How many photos. See, size does matter after all


    As for backing up Referenced Masters and deletions: there are any number of apps that will do that job, and with deletions too.






  • SierraDragon Level 4 Level 4 (2,665 points)
    Currently Being Moderated
    May 8, 2011 7:35 PM (in response to WoodPlane)

    Disk space is cheap, and human error is very hard to totally avoid. IMO backup Masters before import into Aperture or any other images app; much safer. Then forget about them - - who cares if you backed up some duds?


    Vaults work fine backing up a Referenced-Masters Library. In fact Vault backups of a Referenced-Masters Library are much faster and take up far less space than Vault backups of a Managed-Masters Library do, because Masters are not included. And when Masters are backed up before import into Aperture anyway, they have already been backed up.



  • Rich Hayhurst Level 1 Level 1 (115 points)
    Currently Being Moderated
    May 8, 2011 8:15 PM (in response to SierraDragon)

    Agreed about using Managed.   Keep it simple.  Referenced files require a great deal of discipline, especially if you have thousands of images.  Why worry, put them all into a Managed file, use Vault and Time Machine for backups.  If you need more storage space, pick up an extra drive. 


    I have two distinct libraries.  "Current" and "Archives."


    1) Current files.  Generally the past 1-2 years worth of images - about 10k.  Backup = Vault and Time Machine


    2) Archives - about 120k images, starting pre 2000 and going to 2009 or so.  Archives are on separate drives, one for archives, and one for archives backup.  I don't even turn the archives drives on most days.  Backup = Vault.


    I have a Mac Pro and an IMac 27" and Aperture runs well on both.  I just boosted the iMac to 12gb ram (from 4GB) and see a significant difference in speed.  The Mac Pro only has 4GB and runs nice.

  • mrhooper Calculating status...
    Currently Being Moderated
    May 9, 2011 1:33 AM (in response to SierraDragon)

    Agree with SD,

    Disk space is so cheap, rather than try and put a vault (a sort of backup) and TM (a sort of backup),on the one drive  and think you are secure with two different backups, why not put one on each seperate drive.

    Our photos are our lively hood, we do everything we can to keep the backups/vaults/TM up to date. 
    We also use a number of drives for Vaults and we make a complete backup copy on two alternating drives, one of which then lives off site.


    If we have one crisis of a drive going down, we could be up and running in about 30 minutes and only have to rebuild the last day's work.

    Am I paranoid? Yep.


    We came to AP from iPhoto, (and a number of much earlier options, Shoebox being one of them), so referenced files does not suit our workflow.  Now, like Rich, we have files going back to the early 90's in digital and a host of images scanned from film.  (but I cannot remember the last time we really needed to access them. <ggg>)

  • greg57 Calculating status...
    Currently Being Moderated
    Feb 28, 2013 12:58 AM (in response to WoodPlane)

    As for me I'm going fo "referenced". I'm not going to trust a black box...

  • Kirby Krieger Level 6 Level 6 (11,570 points)
    Currently Being Moderated
    Feb 28, 2013 5:02 AM (in response to greg57)

    You resurrected a 21-month old thread to share this slight?

    greg57 wrote:


    As for me I'm going fo "referenced". I'm not going to trust a black box...


    You are trusting Aperture with your adjustments, your ratings and other metadata changes, your grouping and organizing -- in short, you are using Aperture to hold _all_ of the work you put into your pictures after you take them -- and yet you balk at letting it manage your original files?  Would knowing that there are five to ten times as many files in a Library whose Images all have Managed Originals as there are Managed Originals?  Do you trust "a black box" to keep track of all those files?


    The work we do here, in this forum, is solve problems users of Aperture encounter.  We are interested in what works, and how it works.  You have stated your solution.  What was the problem that this solved?  Can you provide details so that the rest of us can benefit?


More Like This

  • Retrieving data ...

Bookmarked By (1)


  • This solved my question - 10 points
  • This helped me - 5 points
This site contains user submitted content, comments and opinions and is for informational purposes only. Apple disclaims any and all liability for the acts, omissions and conduct of any third parties in connection with or related to your use of the site. All postings and use of the content on this site are subject to the Apple Support Communities Terms of Use.