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IPhoto File Management - Copy On Import?

1546 Views 8 Replies Latest reply: Aug 14, 2008 8:04 AM by Terence Devlin RSS
bert4243 Calculating status...
Currently Being Moderated
Aug 11, 2008 1:29 PM
Hi there,

I've recently upgraded my iMac and imported my old Iphoto library. I've been looking through the preferences and noticed that the program works in a similar fashion to itunes in a sense that you have the option to not make a copy of the files when importing. I presume therefore this would result in a referenced database? I'm considering changing from the default setting to this in order to prevent the many duplicates that are generated by Iphoto which take up extra space. I understand from a few tests (within finder) that a copy is created in the originals folder, and if any modifications are made then a copy will go in the modified folder as well as having a thumbnail version in the data folder (all within the iphoto library). In all that makes a total of 4 files for each imported photo, (the master original plus 3 extras). I know the thumbnail is mandatory for the program to function correctly but what are the advantages of allowing iphoto to manage itself rather than me manage it as a reference database? I prefer to manage itunes myself (no copy's on import) as i have over 15000 320kbps mp3's which total nearly 300GB and seems ridiculous to duplicate it to 600GB. In context i have around 1200 pictures in my iphoto library and the file size of the database is only a couple of gig which is nothing in comparison, but i like to keep a tidy file system on my machine with nothing on it that isn't needed.

If i was to decide to manage the library myself with no copies which would be the best way to go about it? I have viewed a couple of other threads and Old Toad seems to give the impression that poking about and moving/deleting files manually within finder is a bad idea. I've recently created a holiday book project which contains a lot of family holiday photos from the library in a chosen layout and theme. If i created a new database with the option not to copy then re-added all my photos is there any way of retaining my book project?

In summary i want peoples opinions (especially Old Toad) of the advantages/disadvantages for each preference. Am i turning into a obsessive compulsive who's stressing over nothing!?

(Am i correct in thinking that a referenced library wont save any metadata?)
Imac 2.66 GHz Intel Core Duo 4GB Memory, Mac OS X (10.5.4)
  • Terence Devlin Level 10 Level 10 (121,725 points)
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    Aug 11, 2008 1:41 PM (in response to bert4243)
    bert4243

    Yes you can run a Referenced Library with iPhoto 08 but I strongly recommend against it.

    Here's how ot works: iPhoto will not copy the files on import, 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.

    Here's why I don;t recommend it:

    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.

    If disk space is an issue, you can run an entire iPhoto Library from an external disk:

    1. Quit iPhoto

    2. Copy the iPhoto Library 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.

    If you're concerned about accessing the files, there are many, many ways to access your files in iPhoto:

    For 10.5 users: You can use any Open / Attach / Browse dialogue. On the left there's a Media heading, your pics can be accessed there. Apple-Click for selecting multiple pics.

    Open dialogue
    Uploaded with plasq's Skitch!



    To upload to a 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

    Other options include:

    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.
    Your choice, obviously, but best to be aware of all the ramifications. By all means post back if you require more info.

    Bluntly, there is no advantage to running a referenced library and three major disadvantages.

    To specific cases:

    I'm considering changing from the default setting to this in order to prevent the many duplicates that are generated by Iphoto which take up extra space.


    It saves nothing.

    I understand from a few tests (within finder) that a copy is created in the originals folder, and if any modifications are made then a copy will go in the modified folder as well as having a thumbnail version in the data folder (all within the iphoto library). In all that makes a total of 4 files for each imported photo, (the master original plus 3 extras)


    Why are you keeping the "master original"? What does that achieve. Best to let iPhoto copy it into the Library and manage the file and then get rid of the "master original". That's the effective way to save space.

    Beware comparisons between iTunes and iPhoto. The iTunes db is a very simple affair. It tracks the location of the file plus and playlists it may be used in, plus some metadata. The iPhoto db tracks the location of the file and any albums it may be in and some metadata... plus

    The relationship between the thumbnail and the Original
    The relationship between the thumbnail, Original and Modified version
    Tracks any edits made by iPhoto
    Tracks all the print products - boos, cards, calendars

    and so on. It's a much more complex beast.

    I have viewed a couple of other threads and Old Toad seems to give the impression that poking about and moving/deleting files manually within finder is a bad idea.


    This is not a bad idea. It's a way to break your iPhoto Library. 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.

    If i created a new database with the option not to copy then re-added all my photos is there any way of retaining my book project


    No. A book is only in a database file. There is no way to move a book from one library to another.

    Am i turning into a obsessive compulsive who's stressing over nothing!


    I'm not in a position to judge, but as I sadi above there is no upside to running a referenced library and plenty of downside.

    (Am i correct in thinking that a referenced library wont save any metadata?)


    No, it will.

    Regards

    TD
    MacBook Pro 15 2.4 C2D / iMac 20" 2.16 C2D, Mac OS X (10.5), 4 gig RAM/ 2 gig RAM
  • Old Toad Level 10 Level 10 (113,200 points)
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    Aug 11, 2008 5:06 PM (in response to bert4243)
    Actually there are only a maximum of three possible files for each photo imported into iPhoto. Once imported you don't need the one you imported so it can be deleted from the hard drive.

    Other reasons for not using a "referenced" library is that if there's an interruption while using the library the link between the alias files and the source files gets broken. Re-establishing those links can be a hit or miss situation and, at best, has to be done on an Event by Event basis. If the source files are on another volume or hard drive it would have to be done file by file.



    If i created a new database with the option not to copy then re-added all my photos is there any way of retaining my book project?


    If you were to do that then I suggest you archive the book as outlined in Tutorial #9a.

    IMO going to a referenced library is a perfect example of penny wise, pound foolish. But it's just my opinion. With the low cost of external HDs today, running your library on an external HD to free up boot drive space is a much better option. And have a backup strategy unless the photos can be easily replaced by other means.





    TIP: For insurance against the iPhoto database corruption that many users have experienced I recommend making a backup copy of the Library6.iPhoto (iPhoto.Library for iPhoto 5 and earlier) database file and keep it current. If problems crop up where iPhoto suddenly can't see any photos or thinks there are no photos in the library, replacing the working Library6.iPhoto file with the backup will often get the library back. By keeping it current I mean backup after each import and/or any serious editing or work on books, slideshows, calendars, cards, etc. That insures that if a problem pops up and you do need to replace the database file, you'll retain all those efforts. It doesn't take long to make the backup and it's good insurance.

    I've created an Automator workflow application (requires Tiger or later), iPhoto dB File Backup, that will copy the selected Library6.iPhoto file from your iPhoto Library folder to the Pictures folder, replacing any previous version of it. It's compatible with iPhoto 6 and 7 libraries and Tiger and Leopard. iPhoto does not have to be closed to run the application, just idle. You can download it at Toad's Cellar. Be sure to read the Read Me pdf file.


    Note: There now an Automator backup application for iPhoto 5 that will work with Tiger or Leopard.
    MBP 2.16 Ghz 2G RAM; G5 2 Core 2GHz, 4G RAM; 750/250 GB HDs;, Mac OS X (10.5.4), 22" LCD, Canon: SD700IS/i850/8600F, Epson R280; 4G Nano, 30G Video iPod
  • LarryHN Level 9 Level 9 (54,870 points)
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    Aug 11, 2008 5:25 PM (in response to bert4243)
    Bert

    Welcome to the Apple user discussion forums

    using a managed library or a referenced library makes n difference in capabilities or in storage space (unless you choose to maintain two copies of the originals - one in iPhoto and one outside - which is unnecessary

    However it does create problem down the road and pointed out by Terence and in the case of expected unexpected failures as pointed out by Old Toad

    As Terence points our there really is never a god reason to use a referenced library (except personal preference) and there are Many Many good reasons not to

    Note that iPhoto if far different from iTunes - iTunes never edits a tune and therefore never writes to the library and does not maintain a complex database structure like iPhoto does - and for a great part you have the original CD of the music as a backup

    So I, along with the two real Guru's, strongly recommend using a managed library

    LN

    Message was edited by: LarryHN
    2.1 GHz iMac G5 with 500 GB internal HD, Mac OS X (10.5.4), iPhoto 7.1.4, 750 GB OWC firewire 400 external drive, Sony DSC-H5 camera
  • LarryHN Level 9 Level 9 (54,870 points)
    Currently Being Moderated
    Aug 14, 2008 7:40 AM (in response to bert4243)
    The reason I'm considering a referenced library is i prefer to have basic external back up of my pictures on a different drive at a different location (incase of fire of theft etc). That way you always have a master copy with the folder names in the format you original had them in. I see this as a (small) advantage if you ever wanted to open the pictures easily on a PC or different computer so you don't have to poke around the iphoto library.


    If you use a referenced library the "original" disk must be connected and available at all times - what you are describing is a good idea but best implemented by using a managed library and archiving the originals photos that were imported and copied into iPhoto to an offsite drive after being imported

    With regards to the comment made about deleting the original after import, what if Iphoto ever crashed and you lost all your pictures?


    iPhoto simply can not lose your photos - they are kept in files in folders on the disk - the disk can crash and lose them (which is why you need backups) and iPhoto can lose track of them which can cause you to lose your edits and your projects (books, slideshows, etc) but not your photos

    I have one last question i'd like a bit of feedback on also. Say for example i have some Photos that i would like to be hidden in Iphoto. There is no way of doing it is there?



    Not really - there is a hide photos function but it is not a security measure to keep certain photos secret - it is more just to clean up your display

    Does anyone see any advantages for referenced mode?:-)


    None of the long time users that I know - some beginning users do - and many who have gone against Terence's advice and used the referenced mode have come back later begging for help getting back to a managed library - which can usually be done but is not recommended

    LN

    Message was edited by: LarryHN

    Message was edited by: LarryHN
    2.1 GHz iMac G5 with 500 GB internal HD, Mac OS X (10.5.4), iPhoto 7.1.4, 750 GB OWC firewire 400 external drive, Sony DSC-H5 camera
  • Terence Devlin Level 10 Level 10 (121,725 points)
    Currently Being Moderated
    Aug 14, 2008 7:39 AM (in response to bert4243)
    If you ran Iphoto in referenced mode, moving the original picture from it's source or renaming it does not result in the program not being able to find it.


    Well congratulations on this, you've discovered something that's been greatly improved in iPhoto 7 over previous versions. I've been merrily moving and renaming pics for the past 20 minutes and it has found each one flawlessly in referenced mode. Where you will also run into problems is when you move the pic to a different volume. I had mixed results with that. Sometimes I got the exclamation point, sometimes I got the option to re-link with the pic. Anyhoo, will amend my stock answer immediately.

    The reason I'm considering a referenced library is i prefer to have basic external back up of my pictures on a different drive at a different location (incase of fire of theft etc).


    I have this in Managed mode.

    That way you always have a master copy with the folder names in the format you original had them in.


    Events in the iPhoto Window correspond exactly with the Folders in the Originals Folder in the iPhoto Library package file (Right click on it in the Pictures Folder -> Show Package Contents).

    You can move photos between Events, you can *rename Events*, edit them, create them, as long as you do it via the iPhoto Window. Check out the Info Pane (wee 'i', lower left) the name and date fields are editable. *Edit a Event Name using the Info Pane, the Event Folder in iPhoto Library/Originals will also have the new name.*

    I see this as a (small) advantage if you ever wanted to open the pictures easily on a PC or different computer so you don't have to poke around the iphoto library.


    Well in my opening answer I pointed out that I saw no advantage to using a referenced Library "unless you're using two photo organisers."

    Remember: iPhoto has no 1. cross-platform capability whatever and 2. Any time you surf an iPhoto Library with another app you risk damaging the library. It's just not designed for that kind of use. It's a database, and like any db it wants you to manipulate the data via the application itself.

    With regards to the comment made about deleting the original after import, what if Iphoto ever crashed and you lost all your pictures?


    1. Well that's what a back up is for. And keeping the originals on the same volume is not a back up.

    2. iPhoto stores the files in the ordinary file system. It does nothing to them when you import, just copies, byte by byte. When iPhoto crashes, and it can do, what happens is the database file gets damaged, the photos are perfectly safe. So, iPhoto crashes, but you don't lose your pictures. Hard Disk crashes are another matter, so back up, back up, back up.

    Say for example i have some Photos that i would like to be hidden in Iphoto. There is no way of doing it is there?


    No. Put those photos that you want to hide from your Mother into a separate library and put that library on an encrypted disk image.

    But in the end, I still see no advantage for referenced mode. My points 1 and 3 remain. It's easy to screw up, and migrating down the road can be more tricky, especially if you've stored your photos on a different volume. We see posts on here regularly from folks who have done just that.

    However, I suspect you've already made your mind up. Good Luck.

    Regards

    TD
    MacBook Pro 15 2.4 C2D / iMac 20" 2.16 C2D, Mac OS X (10.5), 4 gig RAM/ 2 gig RAM
  • Terence Devlin Level 10 Level 10 (121,725 points)
    Currently Being Moderated
    Aug 14, 2008 8:04 AM (in response to bert4243)
    Yes you can, but it's by no means secure and your Mother would be on to you in seconds.

    Check out the Photos -> Hide Photos command.

    Regards

    TD
    MacBook Pro 15 2.4 C2D / iMac 20" 2.16 C2D, Mac OS X (10.5), 4 gig RAM/ 2 gig RAM

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