13 Replies Latest reply: May 23, 2013 12:32 PM by Paul Boutin
mastersuntzuca Level 1 (0 points)

I know there are more critical questions awaiting but this pops up often enough that maybe some of the answer gurus will give it some attention. I'll tag the crap out of it so it will pop up next time the question in asked.


I've only recently tried to incorporate iPhoto into my use and management of my Mac and have done some searches on this topic and received answers. In my ignorance as simple as the answer is I don't understand them from a rationale perspective and hoped someone here could clear this up for me and the others that pose the question often enough that it has relevance to the software's role for the troops/users.


In my search to learn how to change a file name the standard answer seems to be, "You can't." I would have thought it was an oversight and a feature that would come in a future release except the other part of the answer is almost always, "You don't need to - All you have to do is export the photo and change the file name. Maybe so but I feel like that's trying to go somewhere from my house, in my car which is parked in my garage but first having to walk down the street to take a bus, do the circuit back, and walk back to my car and head off to my destination.


Maybe these questions will help me understand what the point of iPhoto is and use it better.


  1. Why put a photo in there in the first place as opposed just having a photo folder and subfolders as my libraries. If I download a photo from the web and duitifully import directly into iphoto and then have to take it out to rename it and then put it back into the iphoto library or libraries it's more work and so not apple?
  2. Doesn't this also just start duplicating photos and so space used on the hard drive?
  3. "You don't need to because all you have to do is export." - If I want to turn to my iPhoto library to find and locate the right photo for import into WordPress Media for an article, I may and in fact almost always want to change the name to greater reflect the nature of the article. I don't know yet if this impacts SEO for the article (I'm learning the ins and out of basic SEO) and the site overall but even so for the article's sake it's not.
  4. What is the down side to being able to make changes directly in iPhoto


Even the parts I can change the title and description aren't saved when I upload to the WordPress image folder.


It would be cool if one could actually make the changes mentioned above but also the description AND there was an Alt field that would store for transfer in an upload to one's site.




John Wade


iPad 2, Mac OS X (10.6.4)
  • Terence Devlin Level 10 (137,925 points)

    Here's why you can't rename fies in iphoto: You'll corrupt the Library if you do.


    Here's why renaming files doesn't matter: iPhoto is not about files it's about photos


    Your questions suggest to me that you're thinking of iPhoto as a "sort of file manager / sort of photo viewer". It's not. It's an entire replacement for the Finder. If you use iPhoto that's your go-to app for anything you do with your pics, and anything you need to do can be done with with or via iPhoto.


    In somewhat more detail - and apologies is this is very obvious to you.


    There's a distinction to be made between files and the data they contain. The example I use is as follows: In my iTunes Library I have a file called 'Let_it_Be_The_Beatles.mp3'. So what is that, exactly? It's not the song. The Beatles never wrote an mp3. They wrote a song, recorded it and a copy of that recording is stored in the mp3 file. So the file is just a container for the recording. That container is designed in a specific way attuned to the characteristics and requirements of the data. Hence, mp3.


    So, that Jpeg is not your photo, it's a container designed to hold that kind of data. And along with that data comes opportunities: Metadata, for a start. Exif and IPTC contain vast amounts of information - some it very basic, like the date and time the shot was taken - some of it quite complex, like a lot of details of the settings used in the camera.


    Organising with the Finder uses none of that at all. It's just a file like any other. Using a Photo manager - like iPhoto, Aperture, Lightroom, Picasa etc - you can leverage all that extra information and sort, organise and search your photos in ways that are simply not possible in the Finder.


    Finder is a file manager. The problem is that Finder treats that mp3 the same way as it treats the Jpeg from your camera, the docs you create in Word and so on. That's like organising your Shoe Shop on the basis of the colour of the boxes rather than on the shoes they contain.


    When you import a photo to iPhoto what happens: The file is stuffed away in the store and not used again. The Photo can be manipulated and categorised in many way - edited, organised, keyworded, titled and so on. It can be used in Albums, Slideshows and so on.


    The file remains stuffed away in the store.


    As i said above, you can Title a photo. That's stored in the iPhoto database and you can search on that Title everywhere - in iPhoto, In open and Save dialogues, in media broswers - in otherwords, all the places where you can access the iPhoto Library you can search on the title (and other text too: keywords. Date and so on)


    So, as long as you're in the iPhoto eco-system the filenme doesn't matter. The title is as useful - and possibly more so.


    If you decide to leave the ecosystem... Well that's exporting, and when you do that here's what happens: iPhto asks you a few questions: What do you want to export, what kind of container do you want to put in, and how you want to name it. Then it creates that container per your instuctions.


    I'm not sure I follow your specific questions. so feel free to post back if I've not covered anything, or just added to the confusion






  • mastersuntzuca Level 1 (0 points)

    I like the idea of keeping an original in a safe place as I've mucked about originals and then accidentally saved and I will use that as well. I suspect though that an image created in a file format like gimp won't survive the import, it will have to be save as .png or something. I don't know if that's true yet but it would negate that advantage iphoto has. Not negate, just reduce it's value.


    It would be nice though if you could at least start with the image name you want rather than have a bijillion file names image01.jpg in the library.


    Thanks for taking the time.

  • LarryHN Level 9 (76,980 points)

    Simple to start with the image name you want - change it prior to importing into iPhoto or export setting that name - you simply can not change file names within iPhoto unless you can write SQL code to do it exactly correctly so the iPhoto library remains intact and complete


    You can suggest it to Apple - iPhoto menu ==> provide iPhoto feedback



  • Terence Devlin Level 10 (137,925 points)

    If you import to iPhoto then it preserves the original. I've not heard of any issues importing material that's been processed in Gimp.






  • mastersuntzuca Level 1 (0 points)

    That's true in some scenarios but the way I've been using iphoto recently is via Safari has a save to iphoto feature that I use. So I'm still adding extra steps from the perspective of using that feature. Instead I would have to save to my drive, change the image name and then get it into iphoto.

  • Terence Devlin Level 10 (137,925 points)

    But why? Sve to iphoto. Title it. Same Difference.






  • MacsReallyConfuseMe Level 1 (0 points)

    For what it is worth, I absolutely agree with mastersuntzuca:  It is ridiculous that iPhoto does not give you the facility to rename the underlying file names. 


    A credible developer could write that feature for iPhoto in about a day.  Here is how it could work:  User enters the desired file name, and iPhoto updates both the image file and its own internal image database.  The feature could be a drop-down option on the iPhoto File menu - call it something obvious like "rename source file."  Done.  A simple function.   Why doesn't Apple just make it happen?


    Instead, not only does Apple defend NOT giving users this simple function, but it actually penalizes users who need to do so by corrupting the underlying database if they try to rename a file.   Ridiculous.


    And to Terence Devlin:  Changing the Title is not the "Same Difference" as changing the underlying file name.


    The iPhoto paradigm of treating images as photos rather than files is great as long as you never have a use for photos outside of iPhoto.


    But a lot of people do have a use for photos outside of the Mac universe - like mastersuntzuca (with Wordpress) or me (my scenario is described below).


    And, as soon as you need to take a large group of files outside of iPhoto, you are completely stuck trying to organize those images if they all have the similar, non-descriptive file names (like img_001 or dsc_0689 etc.).


    My situation is:  We maintain a web database of a collection of items and their descriptions, with images coming from iPhoto.   After organizing large catalogs of images in iPhoto, we can NOT do product descriptions "en masse" because we can't uniquely change the file names to identify them to those product descriptions outside of iPhoto.    In effect, we have to export one image at a time to the Mac desktop, create a caption outside of iPhoto, note the file name and change it, then upload the entire package to our webdatabase, delete all of the exports from the desktop, and then start all over again.  


    Can someone explain to me why Apple won't develop a simple feature to "rename the source file" for an image?

  • Old Toad Level 10 (135,413 points)

    The iPhoto paradigm of treating images as photos rather than files is great as long as you never have a use for photos outside of iPhoto.

    That's not true:  the following is from a post by Terence Devlin on accessing photos for use outside of iPhoto.  It's the definitive treatise on the subject.

    There are many, many ways to access your files in iPhoto:


    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


    (Note the above illustration is not a Finder Window. It's the dialogue you get when you go File -> Open)


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


    New Message Window


    There's a similar option in Outlook and many, many other apps.


    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 10.5

    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:


    a. On iPhoto 09 and earlier:  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. 


    b. On iPhoto 11 and later: Select one of the affected photos in the iPhoto Window and go File -> Reveal in Finder -> Original. A Finder window will pop open with the file already selected. 

    Except for some very rare occurrences there's no reason to go into the iPhoto Library package to access the photos.



  • Terence Devlin Level 10 (137,925 points)

    The iPhoto paradigm of treating images as photos rather than files is great as long as you never have a use for photos outside of iPhoto.


    Did you not read my post above?


    If you decide to leave the ecosystem... Well that's exporting, and when you do that here's what happens: iPhto asks you a few questions: What do you want to export, what kind of container do you want to put in, and how you want to name it. Then it creates that container per your instuctions.



    What fields are you using for the Descriptions?

    we can NOT do product descriptions "en masse" because we can't uniquely change the file names to identify them to those product descriptions outside of iPhoto. 


    If you use the Title Field then yes you can on export from iPhoto.


    But perhaps, even better, you might instead use  something for your onlne database that understands standard photo metadata. iPhoto is doing nothing unusual here. It's just using the same Exif and IPTC metadata that is designed for sharing Photos and used across the world by professionals in the field.






  • Paul Boutin Level 1 (15 points)

    I'll give you one reason for wanting to change the name of a picture in iphoto.


    I'm still using iweb for 2 sites I did for clients. (These sites are over 5 years old for older people who don't care much)

    One of them just asked me to change the pictures.

    I imported his pictures into iphoto.

    Opened up iweb and replaced all the new pics.

    Uploaded all that to  the yahoo server. (not my choice)

    Low and behold, I can't upload the pictures to the server because the pics have spaces in their titles.

    I thought not problem, I'll just re name them in iphoto.



    Of course I now realize that I will have to re import them into iphoto after I've renamed them but that's just 2 hours wasted editing the pics and placing them in the correct order etc.


    Good enough a reason for me to want that function.

    Of course one woul say.. You still using iWeb?!!

  • Old Toad Level 10 (135,413 points)

    Then do what I do.  Upload/download all photos to a folder on the Desktop before importing into iPhoto.. Rename them with a fil renaming app to whatever fits your needs. I use the format YYYY-MM-DD-brief title-001.jpg. 


    That makes the photo's file name/title mean something more significant and the format of the file name is correct for web useage.


    Or use a professional DAM (digital asset management) application that lets you rename files from the app, manage your folders as you see fit, write metadeata directly to the source files, etc.  I use  Media Pro 1 and my primary DAM app and iPhoto for special projects: cards, books, slideshows, etc.



  • Terence Devlin Level 10 (137,925 points)

    Huh? The yahoo server has a weird issue and it's iPhoto's fault?

  • Paul Boutin Level 1 (15 points)

    Yeah Old toad, that's what I did.

    I'm just bummed that it can't be easier.

    Knowing Apple, they usually make things like this easier for the user.

    And yes, Terrence, it's Apple's fault not to have that function.

    Only because Apple has always made my life easier, not yahoo. So I'm not expecting anything from yahoo but always more from apple.