Photos app: basic questions from former Microsoft user

Discussion in 'Mac Apps and Mac App Store' started by Ben777, Jul 19, 2016.

  1. Ben777 macrumors member


    Jun 24, 2013
    I switched from Microsoft PC + Samsung Galaxy to iMac + iPhone recently. I love the overall smoothness and experience.

    BUT I still stick to my old way of managing image files (which is dragging and dropping, folder-to-folder system). I am scared to start using Apple Photo app. There are loads of information about it but it still looks confusing. Please help me to understand:

    1. I keep all my images and video files in various folders on my iMac and external hard drives. So if I drag and drop all files from those folders into the Photo app, can I just delete my old folders as Photo app creates it's own in-app library with duplicates?

    2. Is it possible to make periodically a back-up of Photo app with its files and folder structure? Or just simply save all its folders (including folders structure) to external drive? What if I move to another Mac computer in the future? Can I recreate my previous Photo app folder structure on my new Mac? If I can save the backup, I can simply recreate everything on my new computer.

    P.S. I cannot afford to pay 20 USD every month for big iCloud storage, and my images folders are big.

  2. graley macrumors regular

    May 25, 2010
    If you drag photos into Photos app and put them in folders in the app you can back up that using time machine so you should not need the original external discs as well.
    Hint. Never fiddle with files in the photos library in the pictures folder as shown in the finder. Always use the photos app.
    To move photos Mac to Mac copy the whole pictures folder across.
  3. dangerfish macrumors 6502

    Aug 28, 2007

    Letting go of your old "windows" ways is one of the hardest parts about switching to Mac. You don't need to manually manage a folder structure anymore. Just let the app take care of it all. Once the photos are in the app, you can delete your old folders because they are now duplicates.
    You should definitely set up Time Machine but if you are really worried about the safety of your data, you may want to opt for a secondary back up solution like Carbon Copy Cloner or Super Duper. You can select to only back up your photo library or you can back up your whole computer.
    How big are your photo folders? 50Gb iCloud is only $1/mo or $3/mo for $200Gb.
    Transferring your data to a new Mac in the future is a non issue. I've done it many, many times without issue. You just use the Migration Assistant.
  4. zorinlynx macrumors 603


    May 31, 2007
    Florida, USA
    This is bad advice.

    It's better to archive those old folders. An additional backup is never a bad thing, and if the person decides Apple isn't for them, they can go back to the old way of doing things with minimal pain. :)
  5. rocknblogger macrumors 68020


    Apr 2, 2011
    New Jersey
    This is good advice. My photos are precious to me. More so than any other kind of file. I have 5 copies on 5 separate hard drives plus cloud. Hard drives are so cheap these days that it doesn't make sense to not have multiple copies of your most precious files on multiple hard drives.
  6. MikeeW, Jul 24, 2016
    Last edited: Jul 24, 2016

    MikeeW macrumors newbie


    Oct 24, 2011
    I agree with the cautions to NOT delete old photos. They are important to the user, so saving them should be a priority. I use a time machine backup, with an external drive as well as Time Capsule. Cheap and easy. I also use Carbon Copy Clone for periodic backups.

    The only caution I have concerns metadata. I've had the experience of having some dates on images get messed up when I copied or transferred photos. Fixable and I can manage just the same.

    I don't consider iCloud storage as a reliable method as I have poor internet service. Making copies of the library is a simple task, so iCloud not needed. Also, I have occasionally made a set of smart albums and stored them on external drives for special projects. Once I understood the concepts of selecting a library when Photos is opened it became easy to manage.
  7. jasnw macrumors 6502a


    Nov 15, 2013
    Seattle Area (NOT! Microsoft)
    Was this metadata embedded in the photo image files, or information stored externally in a separate file, and how were you copying them when the data was messed up? Since you can't "write on the back" of images like you can hard-copy photos the metadata can be as precious as the image.
  8. Ben777 thread starter macrumors member


    Jun 24, 2013
    Thanks a lot guys!


    In Photos if I create a folder (let's say "my dog") and album in it (let's say "my dog sleeping"), and if then I add photos to that album from "Photos"/"My photos" - I still can see those photos BOTH in the "my dog sleeping" album AND in "Photos"/"My photos" (among other photos). HOW can I be sure I don't continue adding the same photos to the album again and again? After adding photos to albums is there a way to see only the remaining photos (those that are still not included in any album)?

    If not - does that mean every time I create new album I should go again through all my pictures (in "Photos"/"My photos") to select the ones that go into particular album?
  9. robgendreau macrumors 68040

    Jul 13, 2008
    I'm not a fan of Photos, especially it's use with a managed library; "managed" means it COPIES images into it's own file structure that is rather inaccessible. You can, however, turn off that preference and use a referenced library, which means the images stay in the folders where you put them in the Finder, and Photos references or points to them. The advantage of the latter is that the images are just there in the Finder like any other files. The disadvantage is that it's problem for iCloud Photo Library, but it seems you're not using that.

    Albums won't contain duplicate photos. So you won't get IMG1234.JPEG twice in "my dog" album. But IMG1234 could be in several albums WITHOUT actually being duplicated; it's a virtual arrangement; the original file itself isn't copied, it's just that it's shown in several albums. Or in special views like "Photos." Think of "Photos" kind of like a special albume that contains ALL photos.

    Use smart albums to search for stuff. I think if you do a criterial like "album>IS NOT>any" or something you'll get what you want.
  10. Loco Emperor macrumors regular

    Jun 17, 2016
    This is precisely the reason why I don't use Mac because the handling of thing seems to make little sense.

    That said since you are a Microsoft person or were why not utilize one drive
  11. zorinlynx macrumors 603


    May 31, 2007
    Florida, USA
    Actually the Photos library file structure is very accessible. They designed it fairly well.

    Inside the library is a folder called "Masters". In there is a folder for each year, then month, then day. Then under that, each time you've imported. So if you import 20 photos today, there will be a folder:


    containing the photos you imported. This is very consistent, and there's no additional files in that tree. If you were to copy that directory tree verbatim, you'd have a full copy of every original photo in your library.
  12. MartyCan macrumors 68000


    Oct 31, 2012
    Near Toronto, ON
    I have a Photos question too. OK to ask here?

    I created a few iCloud shared photo albums and put the photos I wanted in there. Then after that I added an email address for someone who needed those photos. Nothing came up about sending an email. Does Photos just send the invite to view the folder on it's own with no other notification?

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