New to Mac and want to organize photos

Discussion in 'Mac Apps and Mac App Store' started by amro, Nov 29, 2014.

  1. amro macrumors 6502

    Jul 7, 2008
    Current Windows user switching to Mac. Naturally, I've never really done any sort of photo organization. Now that I've got the Mac, I'm in the mood to this.

    I have a bunch photos on an NAS that I would like to start to go through and scrub so that I can start to create some nice albums and have them available across all of my iDevices. I intend to be diligent about using the camera roll simply as the temporary storage of photos I take throughout the week until I organize on the weekend. I started using iPhoto, but learned I cannot point the library to my NAS (unless I've missed something). I was intending to by Aperture until I learned that it will no longer be developed. But, since it supports libraries on NAS's, I'm still tempted to get it. Is it a waste of money simply because of that?

    Also, I will be making use of tags in order to be able to search by events, people, places, etc. Unless I've missed something, the photos app only lets me show by places (locations) and/or years. Is there any other sort of iOS photo app that lets me show photos based on a tag search?

    In summary, I want to:
    1. Organize/tag photos off my NAS (iPhoto, Aperture, something else?)
    2. Have that organized library/folders/whatever available on my iDevices
    3. Show photos on my iDevice via any sort of tag search

  2. Big Stevie macrumors 6502a

    Big Stevie

    Jun 20, 2012
    Can you copy just your favourite photos to say the macs desktop and then move them into iPhoto?

    I absolutely love how iPhoto works, its so so much better than windows. But you have to grasp the concept of how it works to appreciate it...

    As soon as you import photos into iPhoto (via SD card or otherwise) iPhoto creates an 'Event'. Theres no need to change/move/re-title this Event at all. The trick is to be disciplined when importing the photos. Work your way through each photo, or groups of photos, and use 'Keyword' to assign a key work to each photo.

    So lets say you suddenly decide to look at all the photos you took in Mexico in 2013, and lets assume you've already tagged all these photos with a key word - lets say 'Mexico'. All you now need to do is use the search function in the lower left of the screen to show all the photos with the key word 'Mexico'. Is takes about 2 seconds to do, its as easy as that.

    If you know you will often want to view these photos again, you can create an album for them, but I don't bother, I just do the above.

    Smart Albums
    I have 'Smart Albums' set up so that all my favourite photos are viewable with just one click of the mouse. I simply create a Smart Album and set it to only contain photos that I've given a '5 star rating' (set when importing) and only contain certain keywords. So everytime I import a photo of my son playing rugby I give it the keyword of 'Rugby' and if its a particularly good photo Ill give it a 5 star rating. A copy of these photos go straight to that particular Smart Album, but the original remains in the Event.

    You can have lots of Smart Albums if desired, for different categories of photos. You can delete these Smart Albums at anytime and the original photos are still in the original Event. You can set these Smart Albums to contain photos taken on certain dates, photos taken with a certain camera aperture, etc etc

    Have I bored you yet?:)
  3. amro thread starter macrumors 6502

    Jul 7, 2008
    Ha. No thanks for the reply. I kind of want to do more. Have been reading up on Lightroom as well. I've got tons of photos on my NAS, some of which are old enough to no have location data. I like sticking with the NAS, unless I maybe get a external USB drive or both actually. I think Lightroom will do all of the organizing and tagging I need as well as album making. I'm still looking at the best way to view these on my iDevices. Still would like to be able to search by keywords on my iDevice.
  4. robgendreau macrumors 68040

    Jul 13, 2008
    Sorry to disappoint, but neither Aperture nor Lightroom like to store their libraries or catalogs on a NAS. An external, maybe; NAS, no.

    But distinguish that from the photos themselves, which could be stored there and referenced. It can still be less than ideal; if the NAS is inaccessible it can create problems. And you should consider the file system as well. Odds are your NAS is using a different file system from your Mac (HFS+). You just have to make sure you understand any issues that could cause, but the good thing is that jpgs, RAWs and other image formats are pretty universal.

    I'd recommend Lightroom. It only references files, and you can move around Finder folders from within LR itself (not sure if that's possible with a NAS, but maybe so). It also works on both Mac and PC, so if you go back to PCs or still use one you've got something that can work on both. It will read a catalog created on the other OS, so you can use like a iMac and an Acer laptop.

    I'm not sure what "more" you want to do. Keywording is fantastic in LR because it can do hierarchies; super useful. It can also geocode your photos.

    The iDevice (I assume iOS) is problematic. The Lightroom subscription gives you access to Lightroom Mobile, which you can use to sync photosets to say an iPad. Keywording, however, isn't quite there yet. Photosmith is actually better for that, but going back and forth with an iOS thing is a real pain IMHO. And BTW I don't like Aperture or iPhoto for that either and I have both. It's the iOS devices that are irritating; I prefer just copying onto microSD and sticking that in my Galaxy Tab and I'm done. Or I just LR to generate a set of photos (usually with settings optimized for the device I'd be viewing on) and then manually import them into say the iPad.
  5. maflynn Moderator


    Staff Member

    May 3, 2009
    Really? I've had no problems running Aperture on my NAS, other then perhaps a severe performance hit, i.e., accessing the images via ethernet.

    In fact I keep my old Aperture libraries on the NAS for archiving purposes, I access them a few times a year without any issues.

    There's no services for me to share/stream them to any iDevices but the app itself doesn't have a problem with my storing the data on a NAS. Perhaps its the type of NAS you use. My Qnap does this problem free.
  6. amro thread starter macrumors 6502

    Jul 7, 2008
    Right, so I've been trying Lightroom, and robgendreau is correct. The catalog is not stored on the NAS, but I've been doing more research, and I think I understand that LR keeps their "database" on the mac and I can have the photos anywhere. So, I decided to get a simple external drive to keep the photos on that and will use the NAS as a backup so I don't take the network performance hit.

    What I'm now trying to understand is the difference, if any, between keywords and tags in LR. I would like to be able to keep as much of the tags with each picture as I can in case I used my PC or anything else for whatever reason. On the mac, I can actually adds tags to a photo from the Get Info (Properties) window. But when I do, I don't seem them in LR. When I add a keyword in LR it shows up in the More Info section of the file properties. Is this the EXIF data?
  7. robgendreau, Nov 30, 2014
    Last edited: Nov 30, 2014

    robgendreau macrumors 68040

    Jul 13, 2008
    I like to use NAS or the equivalent for storing finished photos that I want to display on other devices, share, etc. And also photos I am backing up or archiving. Both uses seem to benefit from the easier access on a NAS or in the cloud.

    Keywords and tags can be the same, and serve similar purposes. But in the photo context we use "keywords" because of the IPTC standard, since that's what they are referred to in the IPTC standards. Fastidious users refer to "tags" when describing words tagged to files on computers, or posts, or whatever. On Macs, tags refer to words that are attached to files via what are called extended attributes in the file system itself; they were once sort of a hack via Open Meta, but since Mavericks have been incorporated into the Mac OS. But these are peculiar to the Mac filesystem. The really cool thing about IPTC keywords is that they can be written into image files and therefore are extremely portable; if you can read the image file on a device you can probably read keywords. In the case of RAW files, they can be written to XMP (a sort of XML developed by Adobe, but an open standard) as sidecar files.

    Whew. I love tags and keywords. So here is perhaps too much info.

    When you use Get Info on a file, or "tags" in a dialog box, or "tags" in various programs, you are looking at Mac OS system tags. Not photo keywords. You could use say "mom" as a keyword and a tag, but they reside in different places, are accessed differently and apply to different files.

    Tags can be applied to any file, but do NOT travel with that file outside the Mac filesystem, with some exceptions. You can find them with Spotlight searches. You can apply them to darn near anything; I use them on email, photos, Word documents, folders, etc.

    Keywords can be applied to certain image files (JPEG, TIFF, etc). Since RAW files aren't per se "images," and proprietary, you usually can't (or shouldn't) write the keywords INTO the RAW files, so they are written as XMP sidecars. Keywords can generally be accessed by photo software, but (and many people don't realize this) also by Spotlight. Cool, no? When you do a Get Info on a jpeg with keywords, you'll should see the keywords listed under "more info." But you can't apply them. But you will see a "tags" box where you can apply tags. See below for an example. That "more info" also can contain all sorts of exif info, which is sorta like automatic keywords (so you don't need to add camera model, e.g.). Worth exploring.

    If keywords are written to files, then off they go with the file. When you peruse the IPTC standard you see what a great thing this is: designed so that say a sports photographer can add all the info for caption, sorting, etc etc so just the picture has all the editor needs. Check out Photo Mechanic if you want to see how far this goes. A DAM like Aperture or LR can store the keywords WITHOUT writing to the file, which can be useful, but I do it by default. It means most of my organization is independent of photo software.

    You can see how the metadata keywords are displayed in LR below.

    One big difference in LR (or other DAMs) is that it can do hierarchical keywording. This is super useful, since it means you don't have to keep entering the upper level words, like "animals" and "mammals" when you enter "dog." It also means you can design hiearchies to mimic your collection or folder structures, and that travels with the photo files. These are basically the same information:

    Finder: /Animals/Mammals/dogs
    Keywords: Animals>Mammals>dogs

    System tags have no such hierarchies.

    Note that LR writes the HIERARCHY into XMP in metadata; many photo applications don't. It takes the form "Animals|Mammals|dogs." Hierarchies otherwise are written into keywords as "Animals, Mammals, dogs" which would be indistinguishable from "dogs, Animals, Mammals." LR's method makes the hierarchies portable, but I don't think it's an IPTC standard. (Put a string with keywords separated by "|" (pipe character) into the keywords field in another application, say Graphic Converter, and LR on import will make that a hierarchy, BTW.)

    LR users have posted lots of info about keywording online. It's extremely powerful. A savvy LR user told me to use keywords for permanent info I wanted with the photos, like who is in it, location, copyright, etc etc. And to use collections and collection sets for transitory info, like "To Be Edited," "For publishing to Flickr," "Lens test," "Portraits," etc. I love the way that works; YMMV.

    Finally, I find it helps to think of tags and keywords as sort of a hierarchy themselves. A "mom" tag really means "any Mac system file>mom," while a "mom" keyword really means "image file only>mom." This rule can mean that searching produces different results: search "mom" tag might only get emails to mom if you didn't tag photos of mom; the converse for a search on the keyword "mom." But you get both by a keyword+tag search on "mom."

    Whew. Sorry you asked?


  8. bgd macrumors regular

    Aug 30, 2005
    I'm currently cataloguing all my photos into LR.

    Originals are on a NAS. For portability I have copied them onto a flash drive (my MBA doesn't have the space). I import into the catalogue and then add the key words. As the MBA fills up I move the photos back to the NAS (new directory). The LR database remains on the MBA and the photos on the NAS. I've had no issues with either LR or network performance. I'm using wireless.

    This only works as long as I use LR to move the photos. Doing it outside LR breaks the link. The Adobe site has some tutorial videos which are helpful.
  9. maflynn Moderator


    Staff Member

    May 3, 2009
    Since moving over to LR (Aperture has been killed off by apple), that's what I do. The catalog is local, and I move my images onto my DAS or NAS, problem free.

    Again, I find the use of a NAS or a DAS to be give me the space needed on my 256GB MBP.
  10. TFL167 macrumors member

    Oct 26, 2014
    just bookmarking so i can come back to read it
  11. sonicrobby, Dec 3, 2014
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2014

    sonicrobby macrumors 68020


    Apr 24, 2013
    New Orleans
    New to Mac and want to organize photos

    I use iPhoto for the exact reason you mention. I take photos on my camera roll, export them to iPhoto on my Mac, and throw them into an event. Within iPhoto I add faces and places to make searching easier later on. (I've gone through all my families old photo albums, and tagged the faces and added geolocation a where available, all manually for the 13000 pictures).

    When you import the photos from your NAS, iPhoto will essentially make its own copy and keep it within its own library file. (So if you had your photo in iPhoto, and wanted to upload it to a website via a browser, you would have to drag the photo from iPhone to the desktop, and it will create a copy picture file (JPEG, png) for you to use. For this, after moving my pictures to iPhoto, I deleted all of the ones on my NAS (though I'd still suggest keeping it somewhere as a backup).

    As far as on the idevices. I have iTunes to sync all of my pictures to my idevices, that way it's all on there. If you have added faces, events, places, or other metadata to your photos, they will be sortable as albums within the iOS photos app. Let me see if I can get a screenshot.

    Edit: and if you wanted to search by key words, the top right corner has that search available

  12. s15119 macrumors 65816


    Nov 20, 2010
    This is an excellent thread. It's info like this that makes MacRumors useful. thanks
  13. amro, Dec 4, 2014
    Last edited: Dec 4, 2014

    amro thread starter macrumors 6502

    Jul 7, 2008
    Thank you so much guys. I really appreciate the feedback and the education (robgendreau). I have much to digest and learn, but with the help of this forum I'm confident I will get to a photo management plan that will suite my needs. Really glad I switched to Mac.

    How about discussing geotagging. I notice there are different ways to get geotagging information into the metadata. Again, I don't know which way is the best way to use across various photo apps or maps. I'd like the photo to be shown on a map whether I'm on iPhone or Android.
  14. robgendreau macrumors 68040

    Jul 13, 2008
    I have used every way. It sorta depends on what equipment you've got; obviously from easiest (say an iPhone or GPS enabled phone that automatically stores it) to most annoying (say a scanned photo where you don't even have a capture time and need to geolocate it on a map from memory). On the plus side once it's in there you're good to go, just remember that if your wife sees a photo that puts you outside your mistress' house we can't help you.

    LR and Aperture and iPhoto and Graphic Converter all allow you to manually geolocate. Pretty easy. They differentiate where things like batch copying of location and such come into play, or in features like reverse geocoding (the application looks up city, region, country etc from GPS and adds that to the IPTC data, where it's stored separately from GPS; so you could look up the text of "new york" rather than just GPS numbers).

    There are also dedicated GPS to photo applications; I like HoudahGeo. I can download a track recorded on my iPhone in a navigation app like Motion X or GaiaGPS (which I might be doing for other reasons anyway, like on a hike) and easily use it to transfer GPS to pictures). It also allows you to copy GPS, or manually add it. So I might NOT be recording constantly with the GPS on my phone, but might use the phone to snap a photo just to preserve the location, and then later transfer that to photos taken with my real camera. I think you can do this with LR or Aperture; I just like HoudahGeo more. Another cool use is that it can go the other way: I can export GPS coordinates from photos for use in other ways. And it can look up altitude.

    Depending on where you take photos a consideration is the map you use to manually encode photos, which you'll probably have to do on occasion. I do a bunch of hiking and offroading, and sometimes Google or Apple maps aren't really that helpful, nor are the aerial photos. HoudahGeo can use Mapbox, which is Open Street Map which can help, but I'd prefer something with even more trail info. But it's way better than the others, esp. Aperture. As examples, see below; they are HoudahGeo, LR and Aperture, all with hybrid views. The trail info is best with HoudahGeo and completely absent in Apple Maps.



  15. amro thread starter macrumors 6502

    Jul 7, 2008
    Great information. Thanks Rob.

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