Some thoughts about photo management on your Mac

This started as an email to some friends, but it is a good reference to have & update as time goes along.


iPhoto, is best used with a yearly library. You can hold down the option key when you start it, and it will ask you if you want to open the default, or create a new library. After a year I have found that iPhoto becomes to big and cumbersome to use quickly/nimbly and you start to find work arounds which derails your whole photo workflow.


Know what photos are coming in so you can create a workflow, and stick with it. Are you just importing Nikon photos or are you capturing your iPhone photos as well? There are some great apps that can automate that process, or you can just set a workflow for yourself.

Knowing what you have

If you don’t know what you have, and need to clean up the duplicates, I’ve used this app, PhotoSweeper with pretty good success. You need to approach it systematically or else you will be overwhelmed, and again I can’t stress enough you need to have a process/workflow of where you want the photos to end up. The e-book i mention below can help a lot with that.

What are you doing with the photos?

Know what/where your photos go out. Are you just holding on to them? Are you doing much post-processing? There are a lot of great photo sharing apps, etc, make sure you are taking advantage of them to share those great photos. The ones we use the most are:

Photo Stream – All the grandparents have iDevices, so it is the quickest way to share those iPhone snapshots
Posterino – What we use to display the photos taken over the course of the year. We got the idea here (the how to is no longer active, but you can see the general idea) and then a few years later found posterino which makes it immensely easier.

Additionally, Costco has top quality/industry standard photo printer. I just send the electrons to Costco and pick the photos up while I’m getting 12 pounds of nutmeg.

Sources on the internet

I certainly didn’t learn all of this myself. Some great writers/blogs that helped me along are:

Learning to Love Photo Management: So this isn’t a blog as much as it was an e-book. I thought it was crazy to spend $2.99 on how to keep things organized on your mac, but if you are feeling overwhelmed it provides a great approach to get things under control. Take a look at my copy while you are over, I’d loan it to you but can’t really loan an iPad!

Mac Power Users Photo Management episode: So this is a podcast I follow fairly regularly that keeps me in the know about all things mac. It may be a little geeky to jump right into, but there are some good links to tools and apps. Btw, MPU is where I first learned of Photosweeper

Dr Drang’s blog: If you are feeling really adventurous, then this blog has some scripts that can help you sort through all of your photos into folders, etc (in accordance with Bradley Chambers’ book, yes, these are all somewhat circular)

Federico’s Workflow: If you are feeling international, Federico runs a great blog out of Italy on all things mac. He talks a lot about his workflows, and his photos workflow is worth a read. It doesn’t work for me for a variety of reasons, but there is some good info there.