More Photos Q&A: Finding your photos on a map, and dealing with metadata

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What a difference a week makes! Well, not really. Photos for OS X is one week older, and Mac 911 still has a huge queue of your questions, bug reports, and honest frustrations.

Remember that whenever a software product ships, it’s a compromise, and new ones more so than revisions. When 1.0.0 of Photos was released, Apple was already hard at work on 1.0.1, and if it conforms to the usual schedule within one to four weeks, we’ll see a doozy of an update that mitigates some of what we’re wrestling with now. Endure!

On to your questions.

Where did you go?

Photos’ different approach to displaying location information embedded in a photo or video’s metadata have caused the most consternation, because Apple has chosen an entirely different approach.

Jason Snell addressed how to geotag photos without using Photos in his column April 16. But readers are still trying to find out how to see locations on a map. I answered it briefly last week, but here’s more. Wayne Koabel’s question was typical: “After change to Photos from iPhoto, I can not find any places in my source list. How do I access the Places map in the new program?”

  • Media retain any geotagging, but that information isn’t presented in a single map view. However, if you select View > Metadata > Location, a pushpin-in-a-square icon overlays the lower left of an image or video. (More on this Metadata item below.)

mac 911 images showing location pin

Images reveal that they have a location tag with an overlaid pushpin on a square as long as that metadata detail is set to display.

  • With the Info pane visible (Windows > Info), any image, video, or multiple selection that contains geotagging information will appear on a map at the pane’s bottom.

  • Photos: Multiple Images Location in Info Pane

    With multiple media items selected with at one geotagged item, the Info pane shows grouped placement on a map.

  • With nothing selected, the Info pane shows the coarse placement of all photos in your library. You can zoom in to see fine detail about where images are clustered, but there’s no way to select a moment from that map, which seems like an oversight.

  • When viewing moments, if there are one or more geotagged media items in the set, the label for that place or range of places appears as the moment name in bold. To the right of the moment’s name, a broader place name appears in fainter type. Click that, and a full-window map shows all the moment’s photos. You can show larger increments of time, up to years, and click the location. (You can opt to show in larger or smaller groups by checking or unchecking the Summarize Photos option in Photos > Preferences in the General pane.)

  • When you click the location information to the right of a moment name that has geotagging informatio

    When you click the location information to the right of a moment name that has geotagging information, Photos reveals the images on a map in its main view.

We’re all assuming Apple will add the ability to geotag media in a future release, although it’s hard to know philosophically if they’ll return the Places view—perhaps as an album, as it treats Faces.

Events, albums, metadata, and sorting

The switch to moments as a key organizing metaphor has caught people off guard as well, and many are still trying to sort out how to adapt their previous method of working to Photos or restore what they had. If you aren’t seeing a list of albums and other special items at the left of Photos, choose View > Show Sidebar.

John P. Fosdick asked, “In iPhoto, my events were in chronological order. In Photo, they’re reversed. How do I arrange the events in chronological order again?” John Murdin noted with frustration, “I updated yesterday in the middle of a project which needed me to be able to sort according to photo name—which of course I could do with iPhoto yesterday but don’t seem to be able to do today with Photo!”

And Ray McEneaney discovered, “On converting to Photos for Mac, most of my captions have disappeared, and the ones that are left I can no longer put in alphabetical order. For example I had my complete bird list photos in taxonomic order.”

For now, except in albums, Photos only organizes images from oldest to newest. There are no other sort options by date, name, or other characteristics. In an album, you can drag photos into an arbitrary order, or choose View > Keep Sorted by Date to lock them in that same old-to-new view.

Several readers asked about converting iPhoto Events, which aren’t supported in Photos in lieu of moments. In the Albums list, you’ll find iPhoto Events as a folder. Inside are all the Events from iPhoto. You can drag these into the main Albums view or create new folder hierarchies.

Luis Quinones found 800 albums created from Events in one of his imported iPhoto libraries, and wondered if they could be converted to moments. Unfortunately, Photos automatically identifies moments: there’s no way to override and create them yourself.

The Info pane shows additional metadata, such as the item’s description.

The Info pane shows additional metadata, such as the item’s description.

Several readers preferred to merge multiple Events into a single one, and are not sure what to. In Photos, automatically created moments and user-created manual and smart albums are the only organizational tools. And albums can’t be merged: you can re-order them in the sidebar under the Albums label, but you can’t select multiple albums in the sidebar or drag one on top of each other.

The default Photos view doesn’t bring in settings from iPhoto about the metadata you want to show with images, and not everything is shown in the main view. The View > Metadata submenu has several options, each of which works differently. Oy, Apple. (Location’s utility is noted above.)

  • Title: A title appears below the image if any is set. If not, it just leaves a space. Hovering shows “Untitled.” The title can be clicked to change. (And, as noted, you can’t sort by name.)

  • Keywords: A tag icon overlays the image which, if carefully clicked, reveals associated keywords. However, the keywords can’t be clicked. To search by keyword, you have to enter it in the Search field in Photos’ upper-right corner.

  • Edited: Edited images appear with a toolbox overlaying their lower right.

  • File Type: For videos, slo-mo, and time-lapse clips, an appropriate icon is overlaid.

  • Favorite: This reveals whether you’ve marked an image as a favorite and also lets you click while hovering over it to give it some love.

  • Referenced File: Images that aren’t stored in the Photos library but elsewhere have a square-plus-arrow icon. Choose Show Referenced Image in Finder by Control-clicking the image or, with the image selected, choose the item from the File menu.

A caption or “description” doesn’t appear in any view, but will appear in the Info pane when the image is selected.

Ask Mac 911

We’re always looking for problems to solve! Email us at or tweet them at me (if brief) @glennf. Mac 911 can’t provide direct email responses or answers for every question. For that, turn to AppleCare, an Apple Store Genius bar, or the Apple Support Communities.

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