6 Replies Latest reply: Nov 15, 2007 11:09 AM by Terence Devlin
poddster Level 1 Level 1 (10 points)
Being a recent Mac convert, I am just getting used to the 'complete control' approach to photo management that iPhoto has. I'm used to knowing where my photos physically reside on my computer - this is useful for doing things like uploading photos to a website for example. How do I actually find a particular photo in the Finder (or even give photo files recognisable names, as opposed to whatever automated naming system iPhoto uses)?

A followup question to this is, what happens if I ever want to migrate my photos out of iPhoto one day to another application or even back to a PC (God forbid - just my paranoia about being forced to use a particular system forever kicking in here!) - is there a way to do this, and keep photo modifications etc? Or once I start using iPhoto, have I made my decision for life??

My apologies if this has been asked before, I couldn't find anything in the forum when searching.

24" Aluminium iMac, 2GB RAM, Mac OS X (10.5), iLife 08
  • Terence Devlin Level 10 Level 10 (134,930 points)

    I hope you've a notebook and pen, but you've asked a lot of questions:

    I'm used to knowing where my photos physically reside on my computer

    You photos are stored in the iPhoto Library at your Pictures Folder. This is a Unix style Package Folder that very easy to see inside: right click on it and choose show package contents. A finder window opens with the library exposed.

    Here's how the library is laid out:

    In this folder there are various files, which are the Library itself and some ancillary files. Then you have three folders

    Originals are the photos as they were downloaded from your camera or scanner.

    (ii) Modified contains edited pics, shots that you have cropped, rotated or changed in any way.

    iPhoto always preserves the original file, all operations are carried out on a copy.

    (iii) Data holds the thumbnails the the app needs to show you the photos in the iPhoto Window.

    And here's a warning: It is strongly advised that you do not move, change or in anyway alter things in the iPhoto Library Folder as this can cause the application to fail and even lead to data loss.

    this is useful for doing things like uploading photos to a website for example

    No it's not. Don't surf the iPhoto Library. The idea with iPhoto is that you do everything via the iPhoto Window or media browsers:

    So, to access pics use one (or more) of the following:

    There are three ways (at least) to get files from the iPhoto Window.

    1. *Drag and Drop*: Drag a photo from the iPhoto Window to the desktop, there iPhoto will make a full-sized copy of the pic.

    2. *File -> Export*: Select the files in the iPhoto Window and go File -> Export. The dialogue will give you various options, including altering the format, naming the files and changing the size. Again, producing a copy.

    3. *Show File*: Right- (or Control-) Click on a pic and in the resulting dialogue choose 'Show File'. A Finder window will pop open with the file already selected.

    To upload to MySpace or any site that does not have an iPhoto Export Plug-in the recommended way is to Select the Pic in the iPhoto Window and go File -> Export and export the pic to the desktop, then upload from there. After the upload you can trash the pic on the desktop. It's only a copy and your original is safe in iPhoto.

    This is also true for emailing with Web-based services. If you're using Gmail you can use THIS

    If you use Apple's Mail, Entourage, AOL or Eudora you can email from within iPhoto.

    If you use a Cocoa-based Browser such as Safari, you can drag the pics from the iPhoto Window to the Attach window in the browser. Or, if you want to access the files with iPhoto not running, then create a Media Browser using Automator (takes about 10 seconds) or use THIS

    iPhot doesn't name the files, those names are given by your camera. You can add titles in iPhoto and if you use the File -> Export command there's a facility there to name the resulting file (it'll be a copy - remember what I said about all operation being done on a copy...) with the title.

    Do not rename files in iPhoto, That comes under the heading of making changes in the iPhoto Library Folder and alters the path to the files. If you do, iPhoto will lose track of the file. But the truth is there's simply no need to. However, you can rename the files before importing them if you like.

    Migrating is really easy. You've seen the layout of the Library above. The originals are all there, in the originals folder, the Modified versions in their folder. If you want to have only the most recent versions of pics, then export them from iPhoto to a folder on the desktop.

    By all means post back if you need more.


  • poddster Level 1 Level 1 (10 points)
    Now that's a great response! This has answered all my questions thoroughly, thanks very much for your time and effort, much appreciated!
  • D25DesignStudio Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
    Thanks for this very detailed response. I recently upgraded to iLife 08 and I too prefer to access files via the finder or at least have control over where the images are kept. The one thing you didn't touch on in your response (because you weren't asked) was the ability to change where iPhoto is storing the photos. I use my internal hard drive primarily for applications because of it's limited 150 GB capacity. Because I have thousands and thousands of photos, I prefer to keep them on an external hard drive which is 4 times the capacity of my internal. So the big question... Is there a way to tell iPhoto to put everything on an external drive as opposed to the internal drive it currently uses. I looked in preferences and couldn't find anything. Thanks in advance for your input.

  • Terence Devlin Level 10 Level 10 (134,930 points)
    You can run your entire iPhoto Library from an external disk:

    1. Quit iPhoto

    2. Copy the iPhoto Library Folder as an entity from your Pictures Folder to the External Disk.

    3. Hold down the option (or alt) key while launching iPhoto. From the resulting menu select 'Choose Library' and navigate to the new location. From that point on this will be the default location of your library.

    4. Test the library and when you're sure all is well, trash the one on your internal HD to free up space.

    Things are somewhat different if you have a referenced library, do you?


  • D25DesignStudio Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
    Once again, very helpful stuff. I don't know what a referenced library is, so I'm going to go out on a limb and say no, I don't have one. Up until a few days ago, I used Adobe Bridge for all of my photo organization stuff, so I'm a bit of a neophyte when it comes to iPhoto. Thanks again.
  • Terence Devlin Level 10 Level 10 (134,930 points)
    If you're running a Managed library, then it's the default setting, and iPhoto copies files into the iPhoto Library when Importing

    If you're running a Referenced Library, then you made a change at iPhoto -> Preferences -> Advanced and iPhoto is NOT copying the files into the iPhoto Library when importing.

    Simply go to iPhoto Menu -> Preferences -> Advanced and uncheck 'Copy Files to the iPhoto Library on Import'.

    Now iPhoto will not copy the files, but rather simply reference them on your HD. It will create an alias to the Original file, a thumbnail and, if you modify the pics, a Modified version.

    However, you need to be aware of a number of potential pitfalls using this system.

    1. Import and deleting pics are more complex procedures
    2. You cannot move or rename the files on your system or iPhoto will lose track of them
    3. Most importantly, migrating to a new disk or computer can be much more complex.

    Always allowing for personal preference, I've yet to see a good reason to run iPhoto in referenced mode unless you're using two photo organisers.