As your photography skills and gear advance, you may start running into iPhoto’s limitations. Perhaps you need more image-adjustment tools or want a better way to manage and back up pictures. If iPhoto is feeling cramped, consider switching to Apple’s $299 Aperture 1.5.2 ( ). Many of its features are similar to iPhoto’s, but it gives you greater control over image quality, photo management, and more. Ready to switch? Here are some strategies.
Before you migrate to Aperture, consider whether you want to move your entire library or just a small subset of it into the program. This decision will help you determine the best way to import your pictures.
Import Everything The simplest way to bring your images into Aperture is to move them all at once—a good route if your iPhoto library is small or if you’ve been meticulous about keeping it organized. In Aperture, choose File: Import: iPhoto Library, and navigate to your iPhoto Library folder (by default in your user folder /Pictures).
After the import process is finished, you’ll find your entire collection of static iPhoto albums and rolls in a folder called iPhoto Library in the Projects pane. (Aperture doesn’t import smart albums, but you can quickly create a smart album from a static one. Simply select the smart album in iPhoto, choose Edit: Select All, and then choose File: New Album From Selection.)
Aperture also turns each roll into a separate project. Think of projects as individual image libraries—each project can have its own photos, albums, books, and Web galleries (see “Project View”). You can create new projects (File: New Project), move images and albums between projects (by dragging the selected items onto the project’s name), or group multiple proj-ects within a folder to create your own organization scheme.
Import Selectively Although importing everything at once is the simplest way to get your photos into Aperture, it’s not necessarily the most efficient way. For instance, if you have a huge number of pictures, you may want to import only the most recent (the ones shot with your new digital SLR, for example). Or maybe you’ve placed your best pictures into iPhoto albums, and you want to import only those.
To import a static album or a roll as a new Aperture project, click on Library in Aperture’s Projects pane, select File: Import: Images, and navigate to your iPhoto library. Aperture’s Import pane displays, in column view, a list of all static iPhoto albums. Click on an album or the word Library to reveal a list of iPhoto rolls. When you select an album or a roll (you can import only one at a time), the Import panel shows a thumbnail version of each photo in it. Click on the Import All button to bring in the entire set, or select individual images to import.
You can use iPhoto’s smart albums (File: New Smart Album) to quickly corral your photos before importing them. For example, if you want to import only Raw images, create a smart album with the criterion Keyword Is Raw. (iPhoto automatically assigns the keyword Raw to all applicable captures.) Just remember that you’ll need to convert these smart albums into static albums (as described earlier) before importing them into Aperture.
When importing images from iPhoto, Aperture assigns them the keywords iPhoto Original or iPhoto Edited. Later, if you need to quickly locate all the pictures you imported from iPhoto, simply create a smart album in Aperture that looks for those keywords (File: New Smart: Album).
Copy or not
When importing pictures, Aperture can copy images into its library, thus creating duplicates of each picture, or it can reference, or point to, the existing files in your iPhoto Library folder. Although you’ll save disk space by referencing your iPhoto files, you’ll lose out on a key advantage of using Aperture: its Vault feature won’t back up referenced files (see “Why Move to Aperture?”).
If you’d like to try out Aperture but aren’t ready to import your images into the program, consider using referenced files as a trial run. When you import images from iPhoto, go to the Store Files pop-up menu in Aperture’s Import pane and select In Their Current Location. If you later decide that you want to use Aperture as your main photo-management tool, you can import the original files from iPhoto by selecting File: Consolidate Masters.
Best of both worlds
Upgrading to Aperture doesn’t have to mean abandoning iPhoto altogether. You can use iPhoto with Aperture and take advantage of each program’s individual strengths.
Aperture offers superior photo-editing tools, including better color-balance and exposure controls, a Highlights & Shadows tool for rescuing detail from overly bright and dark spots, and an Edge Sharpen tool for precise control over sharpness. Yet iPhoto includes functions that Aperture lacks, including photocasting (so others can subscribe to your pictures over .Mac), sophisticated slide-show controls, and calendar and greeting-card publishing.
Apple makes it easy to move back and forth between the two programs. Here’s how to perform some advanced image editing in Aperture and then transfer your picture back to iPhoto to create a greeting card.
Edit in Aperture Let’s say you want to create a black-and-white version of a photo using Aperture’s Monochrome Mixer, which allows you to tweak an image’s red, green, and blue channels for more control over black-and-white tonality. With the image selected, go to the Adjustments Inspector (Window: Show Inspectors), click on the plus-sign (+) button at the top, and choose Monochrome Mixer from the pull-down menu. In the Monochrome Mixer panel, select a preset or use the sliders to customize the conversion to black and white.
Back to iPhoto In iPhoto, choose File: Show Aperture Library. (If you don’t see that option, update to iPhoto 6.0.6.) Locate the image in the media browser and drag it into your iPhoto library.
If you’ve turned off Aperture’s preview feature (in Aperture: Preferences) in order to boost performance, you’ll have to generate previews of the images you want to use in iPhoto. Control-click on the project in Aperture and choose Update Previews For Project from the contextual menu. To ensure that Aperture always generates previews for a project, select the project, go to the Project Actions pop-up menu (represented by the gear icon), and choose Maintain Previews For Project.
Once you’ve brought your image into iPhoto, select it and click on the Card button; then choose one of iPhoto’s templates. Just like that, you’ve used both programs to create a great-looking greeting card.Project View: Aperture’s Projects pane gives you much more freedom in how you organize your image library. Each project can contain its own albums, folders, books, and more.