6 Replies Latest reply: May 26, 2010 12:06 PM by fs_tigre
fs_tigre Level 1 (0 points)

Is it possible to import my photos to iPhoto but without actually moving the files to wherever iPhoto puts them?
In other words I’m currently managing my photos with LightRoom but I would like to use iPhoto for family pictures and be able to use some of the nice features in iPhoto. I have all of my photos in an external HD with sub folders for different events something like…

-Persons name

And what I would like to do is export or manage the photos in my” Family” folder with iPhoto but without actually moving this folder this way I will still be able to use LightRoom if I need to. I don’t know how iPhoto works, I’m probably thinking more of the way LR works, where you don’t actually move your files if you don’t want to, just point LR to those folders and then you can view edit relocate any photo if you need to, oh, and without actually altering the original file.

Any suggestion would be appreciated,

Thanks a lot!

Message was edited by: fs_tigre

MacBook, MacMini and iPhone, Mac OS X (10.6.2)
  • Terence Devlin Level 10 (136,700 points)
    As Lightroom is your primary Photo Manager then the easiest way to do it is to use something that will send your pics from LR to iPhoto: this


    had a plug-in for LR to do the job. It hasn't been updated in a while, so I'm not sure if it will work with later versions LR.

    The problem using LR and iPhoto is that iPhoto cannot read the LR library. So, while you can import the Original files to iPhoto you'll not get any of the edits or processing that you've done on them in LR. To get that you'll need to export from LR and then import to iPhoto.

    Other than that: A Referenced Library will import pics without copying them to the Library:

    *How to do it:*

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

    *What Happens:*

    Now iPhoto will not copy the files, but rather simply reference them on your HD. To do this it will create an alias in the Originals Folder that points to your file. It will still create a thumbnail and, if you modify the pics, a Modified version within the iPhoto Library Folder.

    *Some things to consider:*

    1. Importing and deleting pics are more complex procedures. You have to to put the files where they will be stored before importing them. When you delete them you'll need to remove the files from the HD yourself.
    2. You cannot move or rename the files on your system or iPhoto will lose track of them on systems prior to 10.5 and iPhoto 08. Even with the later versions issues can still arise if you move the referenced files to new volumes or between volumes.
    3. Most importantly, migrating to a new disk or computer can be much more complex.
    4. Because iPhoto has no tools for managing Referenced Files, if, for some reason, the path to the photos changes then you could find yourself resolving aliases for +each photo in the Library+ one by one.

    My own opinion:

    I've yet to see a good reason to run iPhoto in referenced mode unless you're using two photo organiser

    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 Users of 10.5 and later*

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

    Open dialogue
    Uploaded with plasq's Skitch!

    You can access the Library from the New Message Window in Mail:

    New Message Window
    Uploaded with plasq's Skitch!

    *For users of 10.4 and later* ...

    Many internet sites such as Flickr and SmugMug have plug-ins for accessing the iPhoto Library. If the site you want to use doesn’t then some, one or any of these will also work:

    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. However, if you're using Gmail you can use iPhoto2GMail

    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.

    *If you want to access the files with iPhoto not running*:

    For users of 10.6 and later:
    You can download a free Services component from MacOSXAutomation which will give you access to the iPhoto Library from your Services Menu. Using the Services Preference Pane you can even create a keyboard shortcut for it.

    For Users of 10.4 and later:
    Create a Media Browser using Automator (takes about 10 seconds) or use this free utility Karelia iMedia Browser

    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.


  • fs_tigre Level 1 (0 points)
    Wow, this is what I call SUPPORT, very nice explanation!

    With all those options you pointed out I should be able to make a decision. Two more questions (sorry).

    1- Can iPhoto handle .dng or .raw files?

    2- Does iPhoto modifies the original files or it’s like LR, a non destructive file management system?

    Thanks a LOT.
  • Terence Devlin Level 10 (136,700 points)
    1- Can iPhoto handle .dng or .raw files?

    Yes - from supported cameras. Not all are. What are you shooting with?

    2- Does iPhoto modifies the original files or it’s like LR, a non destructive file management system?

    No, iPhoto never modifies the original files.

    However, I would not in my wildest dreams call iPhoto a replacement for an app like Lightroom. LR is a professional application. Like Aperture, it's much more powerful than iPhoto, much richer toolset and so on.


  • fs_tigre Level 1 (0 points)
    *What are you shooting with?*

    +Canon ( Rabel).+

    Thanks a lot for your help!

    Message was edited by: fs_tigre
  • Terence Devlin Level 10 (136,700 points)
    There's more than one Rebel but they're all supported.


  • fs_tigre Level 1 (0 points)
    Thank you very much!