Import like a pro in Aperture

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Intelligent use of Aperture’s Import dialog box can be a great timesaver. When you tap its extensive resources, you can accomplish many basic photo tasks while the files are being copied from the memory card to your Mac. Once the import is finished, you can get right to the fun stuff—enjoying your images.

In my first article on this topic, “How to import photos into Aperture 3,” I covered most of the fundamentals, such as applying metadata and adjusting filenames.

In this follow-up, I dig deeper to cover Raw+JPEG management, effect presets, and the use of AppleScripts upon import to supercharge your Aperture workflow.


I find myself shooting in Raw+JPEG mode a surprising amount of time. Most often I do so as part of my nimble iPad workflow, in which the JPEGs go to my mobile device and the raw files go to Aperture.

Since I have both file formats on the memory card when I connect it to my Mac, I need a way to separate the raws for copying into Aperture. I don’t need the JPEGs anymore; Aperture will generate its own previews from my raw files.

I select ‘RAW files only’ to copy the raws and leave the JPEGs behind.

To filter out the JPEGs so that I upload only raws, I go to the Import Settings pop-up menu in the Import dialog box and enable the RAW+JPEG Pairs option. Once Aperture has recognized all the images on the memory card, I select RAW files only from the Import pop-up menu, as shown above. Aperture will grab the raws and ignore the JPEGs.

Effect presets

I often apply effects during the import process. By doing so, I help to ensure that my images are that much closer to completion when I initially view them. Plus, I think rating photos is far more enjoyable when they look great.

Aperture includes a handful of basic presets, such as Auto Enhance in the Quick Fixes menu, as shown below. These presets are available both in the Adjustments tab during image editing and in the Import dialog box when you’re copying photos into the Aperture library.

Aperture includes a handful of effect presets, and you can also add your own.

To enable this functionality, choose Effect Presets from the Import Settings pop-up in the Import dialog box. Once you do this, you can choose any effect preset you have loaded into Aperture. For this particular shoot, I used Portrait Perfect from the ColorFlow presets by photographer Gavin Seim.

The advantage of using presets rather than plug-ins is that presets use the native tools in Aperture, so you don’t have to send a second version of your master to a plug-in application. Plus, you can review the settings that a preset applies in the Adjustments tab, which helps you understand how to improve your image-editing skills. If you don’t like a particular aspect of a preset, you can turn it off in the Adjustments tab.

AppleScript actions

To organize my work during import, I apply an AppleScript Action by Brett Gross called Aperture 3 AppleScript-Albums by Import Session 03. This script allows me to create albums within the project while I’m importing. The advantage of this approach is that I can modify keywords and captions for each group of images, so all of the metadata is in place immediately.

Apply an AppleScript action to organize imported images into albums.

For example, this shoot of Lovely LadyJ involved three wardrobe changes. By applying the AppleScript, as shown above, I could create albums for each outfit and unique keywords for that group of photos. Sure, I could accomplish the same thing after import, but that method would take longer. Plus, my goal is to start playing with the images right away, not to spend time organizing them.

This particular AppleScript labels the albums with date and time—in my case, I renamed them with labels such as dark dress and pink dress.

Below is an example of an AppleScript you could use, but you can apply any type of function that’s scriptable. Apple provides a template for Aperture users in the AppleScript Editor application (File > New from Template > Aperture > Aperture Import Action.scpt), enabling you to write your own import scripts.

Apple provides an AppleScript template for Aperture users.

A streamlined result

My set of portraits arrived in my Aperture library organized by album, including keywords and other IPTC metadata, and optimized for lighting and color. My only effort was making a handful of selections in the Import dialog box. Now that’s efficient.

I can get right to enjoying my images because so much work was already accomplished during the importing process.
This image came into Aperture looking just like this.
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