7 Replies Latest reply: May 6, 2012 11:33 PM by Bob Brand
Bob Brand Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

OK, gang, I’m getting ready for Aperture 3 and could use some friendly advice so that I don’t run off the road and into the ditch as I wend my way down the Aperture highway.


Here’s the background story. In 2007 I bought a 20” iMac and commenced shortly thereafter to use iPhoto for storing and organizing my Nikon digital images. I have never used iPhoto for editing but instead have always used Photoshop Elements as an external editor. (I currently use PSE 6 for Mac and intend to retain it as an external editor with Aperture 3). I acquired iPhoto Library Manager and currently have the many thousands of images in my iPhoto Library broken up into dozens of sub-libraries, each with a number of albums.


I plan to download Aperture 3 from the Apps Store in the near future and have acquired the following in the meantime:


  1. New 27” iMac with Lion, 2 TB HD, and 8 GB RAM
  2. “Aperture 3” by Dion Scoppettuolo
  3. “Focus on Apple Aperture” by Corey Hilz
  4. Three Aperture Help items: User Manual, Exploring Aperture, and Keyboard Shortcuts.


I have done some skimming of the above written material and expect soon to review it in much greater detail before downloading Aperture 3. If it sounds like I’m a bit apprehensive about Aperture 3 and am going overboard in preparing for it you’re right! I’m hoping to avoid unexpected surprises that might throw me for a loop.


One of my biggest concerns is what to do with my existing iPhoto Library. Should I leave it as is or should I import it into Aperture 3? Will all of those many sub-libraries still be distinct entities that look the same as they did in iPhoto with the same content and format? Most of those sub-libraries are smaller than they need to be, and I would like to combine many of them. Would this be reasonably easy to do if I imported my iPhoto Library into Aperture 3?


Are there any particular issues about Aperture 3 that have given users problems that I need to be aware of? If it's of importance I shot JPEGs only for a long time but recently commenced shooting RAW only, so most of the images in my iPhoto Library are JPEGs. I expect to continue to shoot RAW only after I acquire Aperture 3.



  • léonie Level 9 Level 9 (71,835 points)

    Hello Bob,

    to able to advice you better we would to need more about the size of your iPhoto Libraries. The amount of images you need to store will determine, if you should better set up a referenced library or a managed library.


    Here is a guide on how to transit from iPhoto to Aperture:



    The basic procedure would be to import a complete iPhoto Library into Aperture. This will ensure that you import the edited images as well as the original masters, and in the Aperture library you will find new folders, projects, and albums that will mirror the corresponding items in iPhoto. Also your keywords and captions will be preserved.


    You can import all of your iPhoto libraries this way into one single Aperture Library and unite them.


    Some common pitfalls you should be aware of:


    • Aperture and external drives: Since you have a 2TB internal disk you will probably not need to put your Aperture Library onto an external volume, but you should be aware that an Aperture library needs to be on a locally mounted volume, MacOS X formatted.
    • Aperture is not designed for network access, and it is a single user system. You cannot use it as a shared database.
    • Experiment with Aperture and explore it, before you build a large database. You need to plan the design in advance. See Kirby Krieger's Advice here:

    Kirby Krieger: Start Small and Gain Skill: Re: Importing masters from iPhoto to Aperture 3 and saving as referenced files on external drive


    Post back, if you have more questions. I am sure others will chime in.


    Welcome to Aperture and Good Luck for the transit!



  • Ken30 Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    I just got Aperture 3.2.3!  I have the same question.  I have about 9000 photos in iPhoto.  95% are Jpeg.  Just started to shoot mostly RAW now.  Just looking for the best way to import it all (or should I leave there?) so files are not so messy in Aperture. 

  • Bob Brand Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)



    Thanks for the response.


    My iPhoto library is broken down into 96 sub-libraries, the first 91 of which were sized to ft on a DVD and probably average about 4 GB each. Sub-libraries 92 - 96 are much larger at 25, 56, 47, 43, and 51 GB, respectively.


    I have a 1 TB external HD which I use only to back up the internal HD. The content of my internal HD is rapidly approaching 800 GB, so it  won’t be too long before I will have to acquire a new external HD with capacity exceeding 2 TB.



  • léonie Level 9 Level 9 (71,835 points)

    Hello Bob,

    When you know Aperture better, and have built a large library and will need to use additional external drives, then turn your library in to a referenced library:


    The general idea would be

    • to keep your Aperture library and the most recent projects you are working on on your internal system drive for speedy access and high performance when editing
    • but to relocate the master image files of all other images to your external drive and to reference them. This will free space on your internal drive.


    Referencing is a standard technique in Aperture and it works well. Only it adds a different layer of complication, and it is easy to make mistakes, if you are a beginner. That is why I would recommend to start with the easier to maintain managed library and only go "referenced" when it will become necessary.




  • Bob Brand Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)



    I’d like to think that I will never require more than one external HD used only for backing up my internal HD. The HD manufacturers keep turning out units of higher and higher capacity, so when my  2 TB internal HD fills up I would replace it with one of higher capacity. That’s what I did with my 20” iMac. It originally had a 500 GB internal HD, and when that filled up I replaced it with a 2 TB HD.


    The fact is that I am a senior citizen old enough that I may never build a library big enough to require multiple external HDs. If I ever reach the point where I cut down on the number of sporting events I shoot (at 5 FPS) my internal HD will fill up much more slowly!



  • léonie Level 9 Level 9 (71,835 points)

    Just get yourself a high resolution camera like the Nikon D800 and start shooting raw+jpeg and you will start collecting external drives


    But that looks like you will be able to keep your Aperture library on the internal volume - great.  Even so you may wish to convert your managed library to a referenced library if it grows much larger than 100 GB. As I said, the managed library is saver for a beginner, but a referenced library is smaller and easier to copy between devices, also you create smaller vault for backup.

    So once you got your library set up and organized you might consider this.


    Most people here will tell you, however, that only one backup is not sufficient for your precious images and videos, also that you need a backup of the master images files, right from the card.


    Post back, if you have further questions.


    Good Luck for the transit.



  • Bob Brand Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)



    In spite of the frenzy that the D800 has created among Nikon fans I have no interest in acquiring one. I have had a D700 for over three years, and I find that it meets my needs quite well.


    As Terence Devlin pointed out to me recently there is no need to shoot RAW + JPEG. With iPhoto by exporting a RAW thumbnail to the desktop you can quickly create a JPEG. Upon learning about this I immediately ceased shooting RAW + JPEG and commenced shooting RAW only. I presume that Aperture 3 has the same capability. If not, please let me know.


    Based upon the data I transmitted on May 5 my iPhoto library size is already nearly 600 GB!


    If I were a pro photog more than one backup would no doubt be advisable, but I'm only an amateur having fun in retirement, so I'm not sure that multiple backups are necessary in my case. However, I will consider the idea.