How to control the order of images in a Photos for Mac slideshow

The feature is broken, but there are workarounds.

photos icon
Apple

It’s absolutely frustrating when you set out on a task that seems like it should work, and then wind up wondering if it’s your fault. This is the case with Photos 3.0 for macOS and its broken workflow for creating slideshows: it sorts images and videos in random order.

Macworld reader Marie is one of the people who cannot figure out what’s going wrong. She asks, rightly in all caps, “HOW CAN I GET MY SLIDESHOW PHOTOS IN THE ORDER I WANT THEM?”

In previous releases and in iPhoto, you’d follow these steps:

  1. Select some items or have no items selected while viewing a regular or smart album to select the whole album.
  2. Create a slideshow. In Photos, that’s File > Create > Slideshow. An entry is created in the Projects list with the name you choose.
  3. And, hurray, the pictures and movies would be referenced in a slideshow view in the order they appeared in the album.

Photos 3.0 inexplicably broke this arrangement, and it’s remained broken since its introduction in High Sierra in 2017. Until Apple fixes this issue—perhaps in the release of Photos with the upcoming Mojave?—you have a few workarounds, none of which are quite as ideal, but all of which work.

Manually sort the slideshow. After creating a slideshow, you can use the thumbnails at the bottom to re-arrange media into the order you want. This is tedious and unnecessary, but lets you use all the slideshow features.

Use the Slideshow feature in any view. This feature isn’t always apparent, but you can create an ad hoc slideshow by selecting any set of images in any view and Control-clicking. Then select Play Slideshow. In an album, you can also click the Slideshow link at top. You don’t get all the controls and options in a separate slideshow Project, but you can pick a theme and music.

mac911 slideshow via imovie IDG

iMovie is an option to create a slideshow, albeit as a fixed movie.

Use iMovie. While it’s convenient and fast to create a slideshow within Photos, you can have more options and avoid the need to re-arrange images and videos by using iMovie, which preserves the sort order in your albums when you import. It could be overkill, but you can get by with the basics or push up the pizzazz factor, then export as a movie. (iMovie in the App Store.)

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