consolidating all my photo files

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by jlirot, Mar 10, 2013.

  1. jlirot macrumors newbie

    Mar 10, 2013
    not sure if this is the correct forum. mods feel free to move if appropriate.

    just got a mac mini (mid 2010 - installed a 1TB HD, running 10.6.8, and using TM for back up - will soon subscribe to a cloud back up service as well). i have been transferring data from all my old systems and need to start cleaning things up. Basically just dragged and dropped tons of data and now want to clean it up and put it all in it's proper place.

    i've moved things from iphone, cameras, old HD's, etc etc.

    what i want to do now is move all of my photo and video files into one or two folders so i know where they reside and everything isn't so messy. i do the same with my music files - i have a big master file and anything i add, at minimum goes into a subfile of that master file.

    a problem i have is that i moved some stuff over from another mac and from my iphone. i basically dragged and dropped several iphoto libraries. what i want to do now is grab the files and dump them into one file - and recreate a new library. i may migrate to another photo manager (considering ACDSee). regardless, i don't want 100 different photo libraries that reside all over the place with all kinds of extraneous junk attached to them.

    now, in one iphoto library i have 2 other iphoto libraries and a bunch of other junk that i don't even know what it is. and that's just one of the files i transferred.

    can someone help me find all the data so i can put it into one nice clean file? i started importing new photos using image capture and that seems to keep everything where i want it (in one file - pictures). i'm fine with iphoto creating a library and all that stuff - i just want to put everything in one spot - and know where it is. right now, i don't know where to find that data in 'ilibraries' that i have a hard time opening.

    one last thing - in order to import from my laptop - i just went into the time machine backup and imported the latest iphoto library via drag and drop into my mini. so again - i have the same problem with just wanting to get the data and put into one spot - ok to create a new directory after that with iphoto.

    Oh, one last last thing :). I keep getting a notice that a later version of iphoto was used to manipulate photos - it wasn't. again, another reason to just get the data and recreate the iphoto library. but, wondering why the heck that happened...

  2. jlirot thread starter macrumors newbie

    Mar 10, 2013

    from poking around it looks like within the iphoto library there is a file 'masters' that contains all the pics. is this where all the files reside?

    can i just take this 'masters' file - dump it into another file with all the other 'masters' and start again?

    what is the 'library.iphoto' and 'library6.iphoto' contained within each iphoto library file? i can't seem to open these or find any further data in them.

    per my previous - i basically want to get all the data, erase all the junk, and let iphoto recreate a new library.

    tks again.
  3. MisterMe macrumors G4


    Jul 17, 2002
    For a newbie, you are engaging in extremely high-risk behavior for no good reason. iPhoto can manage your photographs. If you want to go mucking around your iPhoto Library bundles, then the very first thing that you should do is to backup each Library bundle.

    My iPhoto Library does not have the Masters folder that you mentioned. However, it was originally created back in 1998.

    If you insist on engaging in this dangerous behavior, then to what you can to reduce the chances of its not ending well. After you backup all of your iPhoto Library bundles, take the time to navigate through each folder inside each bundle. This will give you personal knowledge of where everything is.

    There are very few, if any, members of this forum who will tell you something to deliberately damage your Library. However, there are "helpful" people whose skill level is only slightly better than yours. Also, nobody wants you to damage a Library because you did something as a result of miscommunication.
  4. dimme macrumors 65816

    Feb 14, 2007
    SF, CA
    If you want to move on from iphoto, Lightroom works very nice for me. I have my 300GB photo collection in it. What ever you do take you time and back up.
  5. jlirot thread starter macrumors newbie

    Mar 10, 2013

    MrMe - I'll make sure i'm wearing a condom when i engage in this 'risky behavior'.

    at the end of the day the mac is just referencing a file. i want to put those files in a nice neat place. in my opinion, it's 'riskier' to keep everything all scattered to hell and gone and not know where it is. if something goes wrong then i'll have no idea where anything resides and have no way of tracking it down. and even if i can track it down - i will be tracking down a dozen different files hidden in a dozen different locations. been there did that. it isn't fun. that's kind of what i'm in the middle of right now - and why i'm trying to consolidate everything.

    i have everything backed up with time machine. so in a worst case scenario i can go back and hunt stuff down again.

    i just don't subscribe to the school of 'my mac knows better than i do so i'll just let it do everything and worry about something else'.

    after i know where the files are and i put everything i imported into one place - i'm happy to let iphoto form it's own system of tracking and bookkeeping. right now i have at least 1/2 dozen different folders with photos and a bunch of extraneous data. i'm hoping someone here can give me solid advice on cleaning up the mess.

    my first pass looks like everything is sorted into folders by year and subfolders by month in a file called 'masters'. I'm happy to just move those 'masters' or 'year' folders into one place and then point iphoto to them. it can make all the cool directories it wants then.

    i do the same thing with itunes. i keep all my files in one place and point itunes to it. itunes does an AWESOME job of allowing me access to and keeping track of my data. i just want iphoto to do the same thing - after i put everything i moved into one nice clean spot. :)

    dimme - thanks for the info. i've heard good things about lightroom as well. i'll take a closer look at it.

  6. mikepro macrumors 6502

    Sep 3, 2010
    Ah, well that explains how you ended up in your current mess, thinking you know better than your Mac! ;-)

    Basically, you are trying to use a piece of software (iPhoto) that is contrary to your philosophy. iPhoto wants to put all of your photos inside its library, and maintain the database of their location, properties, metadata, etc. It works great when you surrender and let it. You just have to settle for "virtual folders" of organization, which are events and albums.

    So, to your problem, you have a couple of approaches. You could:
    - Open each library in iPhoto. Export all of those photos into a folder. Open your "master" library and import those photos. Repeat until you have all your photos into your main iphoto library. But, iPhoto doesn't seem to fit your philosophy, so...
    - Buy Aperture ($79) and use that. Love it, works awesome. It has built in ability to merge multiple libraries. And, it will also allow you to manage the location (referenced files) of your masters. But, has a bit of learning curve, so you may need to do a bit of reading to plan how to do stuff.
    - Use non-apple software, such as Lightroom, or the free Picasa, which is what I would probably recommend to you. In this case, you proceed pretty much as you do in option #1, except that you import all of your photos into Picasa, instead of iPhoto. Picasa will probably be great for you. It will let you maintain your folder structure the way you want, and has some great features like face detection, duplicate detection, etc.

    I used to use Picasa when I was a windows user, and when I first got my Mac. I was really resistant to the premise of iPhoto and letting it manage everything. But, eventually I surrendered and gave it a shot. Very glad I did. Eventually I moved to Aperture as I got more advanced. It works superbly, is very easy for me to manage my photos, find stuff, keyword stuff, etc. I can find photos from particular dates/events very fast now. I liked Picasa (and it's face and duplicates detection are better), and it is more "open" to connecting to other non-apple photo sharing services. But, it's editing is very weak. All in all, very happy I use Aperture now.
  7. jlirot thread starter macrumors newbie

    Mar 10, 2013
    thanks again

    mikeP - good info. you understand how i look at this.

    again, i have absolutely no problem with iphoto keeping track of my stuff - after i put it all in one place and know where it is. i'm pretty much ok even with iphoto doing that for me - after i get everything organized the first time.

    i'm bringing things in from old iphoto files, cameras, disks, old pc HD back ups, etc. so i've got a lot of things to consolidate.

    and, mac won. ;-) i decided to go with the mac (and have moved to a mac for work too) to keep track of all my digital media. from my perspective it's superior to the alternatives - and everything works together really well. my iphone talks to my laptop, that talks to my mini, that talks to my airport, that talks to my airport base station (or whateverthehellit'scalled), etc.

    now, back to my basic question :). Can i just take all my 'master files' and put them into one folder and then point iphoto to them and let it 're-magic' and form it's directories? That's what i have done with itunes several times when i cleaned things up and consolidated. it worked great - and in my opinion is one of the beauties of using the mac.
  8. twitch31 macrumors regular

    Feb 12, 2013
    In Mac speak you are trying to create a referenced library. I'd highly recommend you do so using Aperture not iPhoto, as Aperture is designed to cope with referenced libraries and does so extremely with tools to handle merging of libraries.
  9. mikepro macrumors 6502

    Sep 3, 2010
    You can drag a folder of photos and drop them into iPhoto and it will import those photos and automatically name the event after the folder. Not sure what happens if you drag a folder with mutiple other folders. You may get all the photos imported into the one event, or multiple events for each folder, or maybe it doesn't go through the sub folders. I can't recall exactly.

    A quick experiment will answer this question. Make a folder called something like "Vacations". Throw a few pics in it. Then make some new folders inside it, call them something like "Disney World", "Bahamas", etc. Throw a few pictures in each folder. Drag the vacations folder into iPhoto and see what happens. Easy test that should tell you all you need to know.
  10. Moccasin macrumors 6502a


    Mar 21, 2011
    Newcastle, UK
    Reading this shows the benefits of using search before starting a new thread!

    I now have two iPhoto libraries with some duplication - I am using an MBA with a 128GB and that has all my photos taken since I bought it 2 years ago. The machine is now full up. I also have an archive of about 5 years of assorted photos from my 2.5 years in New Zealand and others between then and buying this machine. These are also stored in folders on a NAS

    My understanding was that you couldn't merge iPhoto libraries but what you seem to be suggesting is that if I import the photos on my NAS into my main iPhoto library, it will add them into the library? Is this the best way of merging two separate libraries?

    I'm now wondering whether I should also export events in my iPhoto library to separate folders as a separate backup and cataloguing, though that may be unnecessary. I do like iPhoto but am wondering too whether I should take the plunge and purchase Aperture (I'm put off by the bad reviews in the App Store).

    My plan is to get an iMac rather than rely solely on a 2 year old MBA - especially as the MBA cannot cope with the size of the library I'll end up with (Storage space and RAM wise). I haven't yet worked out the best way of transferring pictures that I load onto my MBA from my camera into a master library, but maybe this is where the export of photos into a folder on my NAS comes in.

    It all seems rather convoluted and I am sure others have a better suggestion. Is Aperture a better solution for my workflow? Any advice is appreciated, even if its to tell me I'm an idiot. I want to get a system sorted out now so that I don't lose any more photos (I seem to have lost some from about 5 years ago due to incompetence).
  11. SuperCheese macrumors newbie

    Apr 27, 2013
    Its Not Complicated

    I understand jlirot's questions, because I have the same one.

    First, it is not about using Iphoto. Obviously, he/she has not problem with that, or do I.

    We simply want to search our drive, network, device, whatever, and have all photos and movies moved ("Consolidated") where we want them. Note, to those that keep banking the Iphoto drum, the search, move, and consolidate issue could specifically exclude searching where photos and movies in Iphoto are stored.

    I want to do this for the same reason(s) jlirot wants to do this (I would assume). First to have them in an easy place to back them up. Second, to reimport into Iphoto from those folders to make sure that all photos on my drive are in I photo. With that said, does anyone know of any software that will do this?
  12. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Jan 5, 2006
    Redondo Beach, California

    Aperture is a little better at this then is iPhoto. Both Aperture and iPhoto can now read each other's libraries but the two programs are different. If you are series about organization Aperture is better although you pay for it with a longer learning curve.

    Aperture was designed with the idea that you would have two computers, a notebook and a desktop and the desktop might have a huge external disk or RAID system that hold the entire library and the note book might hold a sub set of the photos and also there is the concept of "vault" in Aperture where you copy files to a hard drive and then take the drive off line and keep it in a fire safe. It allows for multiple "Vaults" and allows you to have the images saves to multiple off-line hard drives.

    Apeture allows you to move "projects" between computers and between libraries. In Aperture the Project is the smallest self-contained unit. It has the master files, all you edits and meta data.

    So to consolidate a big mess. I'd import photos into Aperture using a "temporary library", organize them into projects and then move the projects into the "main library" one project at a time. Then finally delete the "temporary library". Inside Aperture you can have projects inside folders nested to any depth but never a project inside a project.

    In addition you can have albums, but these never hold photos, only pointers. and you have "smart albums" that are really just search criteria.

    The kkey is the meta data. You have to keyword and cation every photo and maybe even asign a star rating and location and time

    With Aperture you can still continue to use iPhoto if you like they can use the same library but Aperture exposes a much more complex user interface to the same engine.
  13. ijohn.8.80 macrumors 65816


    Jul 7, 2012
    Adelaide, Oztwaylya.
    I would simply write an Automator action to find these types of files, you have to be specific about exactly what types of files you want it to find and then tell it where to move them. I'd run it as two separate actions, one for pictures putting them all in one folder and another action for film putting them all in one folder. Then you can go through them and sort them from there.

    Automator is in Applications, open it and click "Workflow".

    In the column with all the actions (yellow in the image below), scroll down to "Find Finder Items", select it and drag it to the field on the right.
    • Where it says Search, there is a dropdown field, select where you want it to search.
    • Select "image" as the kind

    In the column with all the actions, scroll down to "Move Finder Items", select it and drag it to the field on the right.
    • Select "Other", this will open a Choose window
    • On the bottom left of the Choose window, click "New Folder", call it what you want and hit "Create".
    • Hit "Choose" and your folder will be selected as the destination.

    Hit "Run" at the top right, walk away for a few minutes and let Automator do its thing.

    Repeat this and this time select "movie" as the kind for moving your movies.

    If there is a particular type of file it doesn't find, like maybe an obscure movie format, make the kind "other" then you can enter the file extension, such as .mkv

    Hope this helps.

  14. swordio777 macrumors 6502

    Apr 3, 2013
    Scotland, UK
    Mike's suggestion above is your best bet. In iPhoto, go to File>Export and select "Originals". You can then save them wherever you like. It will export copies, but these copies will retain all the original metadata.
    Because the exports are copies, the shots will still appear in iPhoto, so you'll need to delete them from the iPhoto after export, (or keep a careful track of where you're up to and delete the entire iPhoto '.photoalbum' file after you're done).

    As I'm sure you've realised, iPhoto is not a good solution for what you're trying to do - as you suggested in your original post, ACDsee would be far better as this does not create a library of referenced files but lets you work on anything from anywhere on your HDD. IF you do want to stick with iPhoto then I'd suggest using lots of very small libraries - you could then save these libraries anywhere you wish within the file structure you create so you know exactly where the photos are. Downsides are that you won't be able to view these photos outside of iPhoto and that you won't be able to see all your images in one place.
  15. macnewbie3 macrumors newbie

    Aug 19, 2013
    the wonders of iMail to solve iPhoto problems

    Hi there, I had the same question: How do I *see* all the photos on my Macbook Air in one place? I wanted to see in *one window* all my photo files (yup see the icons themselves) without having to sift through the "masters" folder in iPhoto library.

    The simplest solution, in all I read online, was to go into iMail and use the "Photo Browser" option under "Window"
  16. madeirabhoy macrumors 6502a

    Oct 26, 2012
    latching onto this as it seems to be along the lines im pondering.

    ihave all my photos in folders, backed up on dropbox.

    i like the idea of iphoto, allocating locations and stuff and it looks easier to sort and look through.

    but often i want to insert a picture into an indesign document. am i right in thinking i would have to export the pic from iphoto every time, and that it wouldnt be the original quality? or am i missing something?
  17. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Jan 5, 2006
    Redondo Beach, California
    You have it all correct. It would be much easier to use iPhoto or some other photo organizer than folders. And yes you'd need to do "file->export" to get photos out of iPhoto.

    When you export you get to select the size and quality. Many times you want a reduced size JPG but you might want a full resolution TIFF. You get to select this when you export.

    Some programs (maybe only those from Apple?) allow you to browse an iPhoto library so you can skip the export process.

    Aperture works too. About the same way except its organization abilities are better.

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