Previous 1 2 Next 16 Replies Latest reply: Jun 8, 2011 2:46 PM by Bruce Michel
Mark Alan Thomas Level 1 (85 points)

This is reproducible with every image in my library. I have two versions of an image. I reject one version, then delete it. Now my remaining version shows a file offline warning. In other words, by deleting one of two versions — not the last remaining version, mind you — the master is being deleted.


I have tried all of the database repair/rebuild options multiple times, but this behavior persists and I am now afraid to delete anything. My confidence is blown.


Thank goodness for Time Machine, because this happened to over 2000 photos in one shot when I emptied the trash of what I presumed to be unimportant versions, only to watch with horror as 2000+ remaining versions sprouted the file-offline badge, but I was able to restore my entire Aperture Library in under an hour.


Any ideas on the root cause of this, or how to fix it?


I’m using a managed library.

MacBook Pro, Mac OS X (10.6.2)
  • Mark Alan Thomas Level 1 (85 points)

    Just to make matters even more confusing, if I attempt to Command-delete a large number of versions all at once — remember, these are redundant versions, not the last remaining versions — I get the following alert:



    It’s telling me that these versions are the masters, but how can this be? If, as the message indicates, there are additional versions in use in my Library (and there are), how can deleting these redundant versions delete the corresponding masters? I thought that a master could only be deleted when the last remaining version was deleted.


    What am I not understanding here? I’ve been using Aperture for years now, and I thought I had a pretty firm grasp of how versions and masters worked, and have, in the past, been able to delete versions with confidence and never lost a master by accident in the process. Now I seem to be unable to avoid deleting masters when I delete versions.



  • Mark Alan Thomas Level 1 (85 points)

    It gets even weirder. If I have two versions of a master file — two copies of the image visible in my project — it doesn’t matter which one I delete — both behave as if they are the master image. So, for example, if I delete Version 1, Version 2 will display the master image not found badge:




    Conversely, if I delete Version 2, Version 1 will display the master image not found badge.


    What manner of circular logic is this? Each version cannot be the master of the other.

  • Frank Caggiano Level 7 (25,722 points)

    Yes what you have discovered is true. Back before the change to the forums there was a section at the top of the postings for user tips. Thats gone now but the tips are still around.  I posted this:


    Deleting version also deleted the master


    back in February.


    Hopefully some day Apple will clarify this behavior.


    Also remember while this is a huge hole  the deleted masters will be in the Aperture trash and can be put back.

  • Mark Alan Thomas Level 1 (85 points)

    It’s actually worse for me than what you describe in your tips post when you say:


    — While it does delete the version it also deletes the master if this was the only version of that master.


    That’s the behavior I expect. But what’s happening to me is that masters are being deleted even if the version I’m deleting ISN’T the only version of that master. It’s insidious and I literally don’t trust this software anymore.


    Really bummed. I think I’ve just about had it with Apple.

  • Frank Caggiano Level 7 (25,722 points)

    Are the images in question managed or referenced? And had you emptied the Aperture trash before getting these symptoms?

  • Mark Alan Thomas Level 1 (85 points)

    They’re managed. I tend to reject photos first, and then once a month or so I’ll go into my Rejected smart folder and Command-delete what’s in there. Then, after another month or so, I’ll empty the Aperture trash. This is where the chaos ensues. Once the files are truly purged from Aperture, all of my versions display a “missing master” badge. Basically what it means is that I can’t delete rejected versions of photos I wish to keep.


    It wasn’t always like this. I’ve used Aperture since version 1, and struggled through its many bugs and problems, but this is the first time the software’s behavior has become destructive. And sadly, rebuilding the database only made matters worse. It resurrected from the netherworld of the force thousands of images I thought had been permanently deleted, and now they too cannot be re-deleted without also deleting the versions I wish to keep, and they’re occupying a large amount of disk space I’d like to recover.


    It’s madness.


    It seems as if the database experienced some form of corruption which rebuilding compounded rather than corrected.


    I keep multiple, redundant backups of my Library via Time Machine and SuperDuper, but of course at this point they are backups of the corrupted Library since this problem apparently existed before it became manifest.


    The horror.

  • Frank Caggiano Level 7 (25,722 points)

    I've never seen or heard (until now) of Aperture deleting a master if there are still versions of it in the library. Given the way the database is setup its not possible under normal conditions.


    I've tried re-creating your situation  there is no way I can deleted a master and have a version remain. Actually that sentence doesn't even make sense given the way Aperture works. Versions don't exist as a stand alone image. They are basically text instructions describing how to make the version our of the master. What you are really seeing are the previews Aperture normally creates. And hey are normally removed along with the master and versions.


    What you are describing is the classic situation where a referenced master is removed with the finder for example and Aperture continues to display the preview with missing icon on it signifying that the master is missing. Which is why I asked if the images are referenced. This can also happen if the Aperture library  package is opened and the interior files of the library are messed with.


    You're not drilling down into the Aperture library by any chance?


    Rebuilding the database is always an action of last resort. It is very destructive to the library and in the troubleshooting tips for Aperture it is strongly advised to have a backup before attempting the repair.


    What you're describing is definitely not normal behavior for Aperture. Perhaps there was a corruption in the library originally and the repeated rebuilds pushed it over the edge.


    Sorry I can't be of more help.



  • Mark Alan Thomas Level 1 (85 points)

    It boggles the mind. I never go poking around the Library package. I’ve always been more than happy to let Aperture (and iTunes, Mail etc) manage my files for me. If there’s a silver lining it’s that because I keep redundant backups I haven’t actually lost any photos. Yet.


    I’m frankly astonished to learn that rebuilding the database is considered to be destructive. I do know that Apple recommends doing it only as a last result, but only because, as they point out, “it can be time-consuming for large image libraries.” Apple’s documentation says nothing about it being destructive. Would Apple actually include a self-destruct function and call it a feature? Really?


    Aperture has betrayed my trust in the worst possible way. It seems like I’d have to be insane to keep using it.


    Thanks for trying to help. I do appreciate it.

  • Mark Alan Thomas Level 1 (85 points)

    Not one to give up easily, I labored for many hours on this dilemma, and finally hit upon a solution. Here’s what I did:


    I systematically created new empty projects for each existing project in my Aperture library and then duplicated the photos from each of my projects into the empty projects, forcing Aperture to make fresh copies of each master image. Then I Command-deleted the original projects and emptied the Aperture trash, et voilà — none of my versions lost their masters! And now I can again create new versions and delete them with predictable results.


    It’s like a miracle.


    The only casualties are my two book projects. The books lost all their images since they were still linked with the corrupt masters which I deleted, but I expected this to happen, and they wouldn’t be too difficult to recreate.


    So this is about as good as it gets. The question now is, Have I really solved the problem, or is there still some underlying corruption in the Aperture database which will rear its ugly head sometime in the future? I admit that this experience has left me shaken and skeptical of Aperture’s robustness and reliability as a photo manager, but for the time being, I’m sticking with it.


    Otherwise this would have been wasted effort.

  • John Kitchen Level 3 (645 points)



    A database rebuild function (any database, not just Aperture), is an attempt to rebuild. It's not guaranteed.  If corruption has occurred that confuses the rebuild function, the result may not be pretty.  So it's not that they build a self-destruct button and call it a feature, it's a tool, like a hammer.  Sometimes it misses and hits a thumb.  That's why it's a good idea to take backup of the database before trying tools which are intended to fix it.

  • Mark Alan Thomas Level 1 (85 points)

    In my case, I had two backups — one TimeMachine, the other a SuperDuper clone — so I went ahead with the rebuild expecting it would at the very least improve my situation rather than making it worse. And at first glance, it did seem to improve things. It wasn’t until several weeks later, when I made the foolish mistake of emptying the Aperture trash, immediately followed by emptying the Finder trash to free up disk space, that the destructive nature of the rebuild revealed itself, but by that time both of my backups were backups of the “rebuilt” database. Nevertheless, the fact that I had those backups to fall back on — which returned me to the moment in time before I emptied the trashes — did save my hide.


    Oh well, live and learn. It’s just a shame Apple doesn’t tell you upfront that the rebuild could thrash and destroy. I’m just grateful I didn’t lose any images. Almost any other Aperture user this happened to would have.

  • Frank Caggiano Level 7 (25,722 points)

    From Aperture 3: Troubleshooting Basics


    Screen shot 2011-06-03 at 06-03 10.19.50.png

    You can bet when a software company says backups are strongly recommended before performing some step they are telling you this operation has a lot of downside.

  • Mark Alan Thomas Level 1 (85 points)

    I don’t want to have to guess or deduce what Apple is saying. I want them to say it. If “rebuild” can mean “destroy" I want them to say so.

  • John Kitchen Level 3 (645 points)

    Mark, you can ask them to do this by going to


    I think there is a section for Aperture under that link.

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