8 Replies Latest reply: Sep 1, 2012 9:57 PM by tylercat
Pito Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

I've been using Aperture a lot and feel like I have a good handle on the way it works and looks at the world. One question I come back to is what are the exact differences between Folders, Projects and Albums?


Check these assumptions/beliefs/misconceptions:


- an album can contain versions

- a project can contain albums

- a folder can contain projects and albums and other folders

- a project can contain a folder

- if I 'move' (drag and drop) a version from one album to another, then it in fact disappears from the first one and appears in the second one

- but other combinations, like from an album to a project, etc. produce other results

- if a folder contains two albums, and I brows the folder I see all the versions in both albums


... I am not sure what the differences are and why I couldn't do all of it just with folders.

... I also don't see the rhyme or reason to how each works


Any pointer, link or explanation would be greatly appreciated!!





  • 1. Re: Difference between a folder, a project and an album?
    phosgraphis Level 2 Level 2 (295 points)

    Check out the links in the "More Like This" list on the right.

  • 2. Re: Difference between a folder, a project and an album?
    DallasTim Level 1 Level 1 (15 points)

    This is my favorite post that answers this question: https://discussions.apple.com/message/13124533#13124533

  • 3. Re: Difference between a folder, a project and an album?
    Kirby Krieger Level 6 Level 6 (11,915 points)

    I'm partial to that one, too.  .  The formatting got busted when Discussions were upgraded.  Anything between plus signs should be in italics.


    Here it is correctly formatted:



    The Well-trod Path. Walk it unless you have a map for a different route.


    The Library is your image database. It contains all the information Aperture has about your images: where they are stored on your computer/drives/network, how you have them organized within Aperture, what adjustments you have made to them, all the pre-Aperture metadata (EXIF, IPTC, keywords, etc.) they had before you imported them into Aperture, and all the Aperture metadata (Version names, ratings, color labels, Stacks, additional keywords, etc.) you assign to them from within Aperture. The Library also contains small copies of each image (in effect, thumbnails, but in Aperture larger than actual thumbnails and called "Previews").


    The image is the core record in your Aperture database. The database is a giant list of images with a whole bunch of information assigned to each image.


    Within Aperture you can view individual images and any grouping of images. You can create a group based on any of the information you have about your images.


    The Project is your primary image holder. It has a unique, privileged relationship with your images: Every image must be in a Project; No image can be in more than one Project. You should make a Project from every actual, out-in-the-world photo shoot that you do. Shoot=Project. Stick to this (the mis-naming of "Project" is one of the worst interface decisions made in Aperture).


    You will regularly want to view your images in groups other than the Project in which they reside. Aperture provides several specific containers for this (as well as superb tools for creating ad hoc groupings). As a family, those containers are Albums. Aperture includes (regular) Albums, Smart Albums, and the following albums dedicated to special tasks: Book, Light Table, Slide Show, Web Journal, Web Page. Any image can be in any album, and can be in as many albums as you want.


    As your Aperture database grows, you will want to organize your Projects and Albums. Aperture provides Folders to aid you. Folders hold groups of Projects, Albums, and other Folders. Folders cannot contain images which are not in a Project or Album: You do not put images in Folders; you put containers in Folders.


    The organization of your image database is entirely for you to customize for your needs.


    There are two additional pieces of the Aperture puzzle every new user needs to understand in order to make good use of it.


    In additional to what I listed above, your Library may or may not contain your original image files. Each image in Aperture has an original. Aperture is non-destructive -- your original image files are never altered. If the original image file is contained within your Library, it is called a Managed Master (Aperture's pointer to this file, and the file itself, are both inside the Library). If the original image file is not contained within your Library, it is called a Referenced Master (the pointer in your Aperture Library points to a file outside your Aperture Library). Referenced Masters bring some important advantages -- but the new user of Aperture can rely on Managed Masters until the need for Referenced Masters arises. Aperture makes is easy to convert your original image files back and forth from Managed to Referenced.


    A Version is the name given to the variants and copies you make of you original image within Aperture. You use Aperture's tools to make Adjustments to images. Each group of adjustments you make to one image is saved as a Version. You can (and should) create as many Versions as you need. Versions appear as images, but are simply text instructions which tell Aperture what Adjustments to make to the original image file. Aperture presents these to you on-the-fly. This is brilliant. It means that Versions are minuscule compared to Masters. The gain in storage and computational efficiency is enormous.


    This also means that your images in Aperture do not exist as image format files. In order to create an image format file, you must export the image from within Aperture. There is no reason to do this until you need an image format file outside of Aperture.


    Aperture, then, is best understood as a workspace for

    • storing
    • organizing
    • adjusting
    • preparing for publication, and
    • publishing

    digital photographs.


    Your workflow is

    • shoot
    • import as Project(s)
    • add image-specific metadata
    • organize into Albums, organize Albums and Projects with Folders
    • make adjustments to images (crop, rotate, change exposure, etc. etc. etc)
    • prepare for publication
    • publish.





    Thanks for posting the link.

  • 4. Re: Difference between a folder, a project and an album?
    Pito Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    Great info and a great explanation!


    One detail. If I drag and drop a version from one project to another it appears that it is doing a copy, from the "+" cursor and the end result.


    But, do I still have just ONE master? So that if I command-delete one of the versions, the other one disappears too?

  • 5. Re: Difference between a folder, a project and an album?
    Kirby Krieger Level 6 Level 6 (11,915 points)

    Pito -- I'm not seeing the same behavior as you.  Please confirm: you select an Image.  You drag-and-drop the Image onto another Project name listed on the Library tab of the Inspector.  While dragging, the cursor changes to a plus sign.  You end up with two copies of your Version, one in each Project?

  • 6. Re: Difference between a folder, a project and an album?
    Pito Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    I was mistaken: I see that + cursor when I drag and drop to, for example, a lighttable or a mobileme album. When d&d from project to project, it's not a + cursor.


    So: d&d between projects is a 'move'. Of the version? Does it stay referring to the same master? And is the master actually not associated with a project, but with the whole library?


    Also when I d&d to a mobileme album, and see a plus, what is being copied? Just the version, or the master too? And what does each scenario tell us about the precise result of a command-delete?


    I know I am getting pretty detailed but it seems one needs to grasp all this not to accidentally delete ones own photos and to use aperture effectively...


    -- Pito

  • 7. Re: Difference between a folder, a project and an album?
    Kirby Krieger Level 6 Level 6 (11,915 points)

    http://documentation.apple.com/en/aperture/usermanual/index.html#chapter=5%26sec tion=14%26tasks=true


    Sorry -- don't have time for a complete answer.  Projects are very different from Albums.

  • 8. Re: Difference between a folder, a project and an album?
    tylercat Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    I can't thank you enough! Brilliant synopsis!!! Huge help in understanding the breakdown of libraries.