More Photos Q&A: Dealing with limitations in multiple libraries, smart albums, and more

Readers (still!) have (many, many!) questions about several features in Photos for OS X.

photos for mac primary

Isaac Harari writes:

I have a personal photo library of approximately 200 GB which is now in iCloud and I can access with all my devices. The problem is that I also have another work photo library that sometimes I like to have on my iPhone. How can I keep both libraries in iCloud but keep them perfectly separate?

Unfortunately, there’s no option to switch among collections or libraries in iCloud. For any given device or computer, you’re pairing iCloud Photo Library with an iCloud account. You could create separate iCloud accounts for different libraries and maintain different OS X accounts to switch among them. But since there’s no similar facility in iOS, it would be a huge mess to swap iCloud accounts to show a different library there.

The more reasonable choice is probably to pick an entirely different cloud photo service for one of the libraries, like Amazon’s or Google’s, and not enable the controls in OS X or iOS to integrate all your pictures taken or uploaded to your computers and devices. They have their own apps and websites that let you access separately.

A photo without a face

Dave Sadler misses a feature in iPhoto that allowed him to tag unlabeled faces, particularly critical after upgrading to Photos, as many of his smart albums are unusable since the options associated aren’t available.

He notes that he used to have a smart album for each year using these criteria:

Smart Album name: Faces Unlabeled 2014

Match all of the following conditions:

  • Face is unnamed
  • Date is in the range 1/1/2014 to 12/31/2014

But it seems as if the first condition, “face is unnamed,” is missing with Photos.

photos smart album doesnt work

Just leaving the Face field blank didn't work. 

That’s correct: you can only have a condition that matches or doesn’t match a given person’s name (in part or whole), but not photos that have no faces identified in them. I’ve checked in Photos 1.1 in El Capitan, and the same is true there.

Default crop ratio

Jeffrey Battersby asks:

Do you know if there’s a way to set a default crop aspect ratio in Photos for Mac?

You’d think so, but there isn’t! There also doesn’t appear to be a workaround Terminal hack that lets you set a default that can’t be managed from Photos’ preferences. (This is true in both Photos 1.0.1 and Photos 1.1.)

Deletions remain

Michele Lieske deleted photos months ago in iPhoto, but when upgraded to Photos in OS X, they’ve seemingly come back from that land where travelers typically bring no report. She writes:

Some are from bursts, some are from before that feature was available. I was careful to clean out my library and deleted unwanted photos in iPhoto. I even emptied the deleted items folder in my iPhoto library before migrating. Where are these old, useless, photos coming from?

The only thing that would make sense is that the deleted photos in iPhoto weren’t emptied from its trash, which is a separate operation from deleting (iPhoto > Empty iPhoto Trash). If they remained in that temporary trash, it’s possible that Photos imported them and restored them to their previous locations.

The only way around this would be quit Photos, launch iPhoto, make sure its trash is deleted, and then re-import the library into Photos.

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