What you want to do can be easily done with Folders. But let's solve the whole problem.
What is your current organizational structure?
What needs for publishing or retrieval do you have?
Can you describe, briefly but not laconically, how you would like to interact with your photo collection, from import to export, over the course of a couple of years?
Does everything in this short post make sense to you?
What do you mean by "stacks" in "I don't want to look at the stacks"?
1) Current structure is that I imported my iPhoto library and it looks like it's all in folders/albums. One main folder per year with smart albums for each month inside.
2) My needs for publishing and retrieval aren't that great as they are just my family photos and what I like to do is view the entire year at a glance and then be able to retrieve by month. I like the visual look of this rather than organizing by date. I upload photos for printing a few times a year.
3) From import to export I'd essentially like to see the photos for each year in a single location (as you can in iPhoto) but further broken down by month or individual projects from larger trips, i.e., California June '12. I'd like to also see all the photos as an entire library starting with earliest photo, roughly 2002.
4) Stacks to me means each time you upload photos there is a photo underneath which there are additional photos from that specific event. I don't like to view like this-I prefer to view each photo individually.
Hope this helps and thanks!
All very easy - the trick is to remember that terms like "project", "album", and "stack" are very arbitrary.
Projects are simply the place where the images are stored - I think of them like rolls of film and tend to create a new one every time I unload a card. The only limit is that you should not have over 10,000 images in one Project. So think of "Projects" as rolls, boxes, events, envelopes - whatever you consider your lowest organizational element. Mine are simply named by date and a hint e.g., 201210 - Trip to Zoo. The real retrieval data is found in the Albums above this. I use a geographic structure - Continent>Country. I don't use dates as Aperture creates Smart Albums by date automatically, so there is no need for me to reproduce this structure.
Stacks are a simply a way to group photos, usually variations of one image. For example, if you are shooting multiple frames per second, you might group each burst of images as one stack. This is simply to avoid cluttering your browser and is not really an oganizational element.
Albums will do what you want. There are two types, Smart and "dumb." Smart albums are really database queries that run automatically. Aperture come pre equipped with several, including most recent years. But you can get very clever with them. For example, I have moved to a mostly referenced master setup, so I have a Smart Album that finds all of my Managed Masters so that I can periodically move them to the referenced drive. Keywords can be very, very powerful here.
You can also simply drag an drop images into Albums. Remember that images in an Album are merely database pointers. That is, they appear in the the Album, like a copy, but any action you take actually affects the original image. (To make real copies, you must create a new "Version.")
Hope this helps.
So from this I gather I can store all my images for a specific year in a Project and then subdivide the project into different folders for months?
I have noticed that sometimes images don't show up on the right albums if I set a smart album-is there a way to be sure that all images from a particular date range go into a specific folder? I know they should based on the parameters I've set in the smart album but it's unclear to my why I sometimes have renegade images in the wrong places.
Finally, can I create as many albums as I like with each image or can a single image only be in one album?
Thanks again-this is very helpful!
Yes you can place all the images for a single year in one project but you would subdivide them with albums not floders.
Folders do not hold images they hold other containers. So you could put folders under the project(s) but you would need albums under the folders for the actual images.
It's contrived but you get the general feel.
Images can appear in as many albums as you like there is no restriction.
Just a follow up on the whole project, album, folder thing.
In the scheme I posted above if you are diligent in your keywording then all those albums could be smart albums and the structure will fill itself out.
You could of course have a super-folder Years and place all the year structures into that. Folders are really just an organizational tool a way to group like things together. The advantage of placing complex structures into folders is that you can hide all the underlying complexity and only expose it when you need to. Keeps the library tab a lot cleaner in my opinion.
What I might do is a set-up like this is:
Then I could hide the whole multi year structure or only expose a particular year or years.
Folders also work with the Project view. One of the views in project view is to display projects by folder. I use that one a lot.
As to your question about why some of your smart folders don't seem to be working like you expect when you try to fill them using dates; Its really hard to say what is going on without seeing what you are doing. How are you filtering by date? There are a couple of different ways to do it and I've found that some work better in some situations then others.