Hello! This is my first post, so please forgive me if this is in the wrong section. I haven't found a recent, relevant post and need some guidance. Backstory- toddler fell out of chair, kicked a cup of coffee, which landed smack-center onto my 13" MBP 2011. It is not completely broken, but broken "enough" for me. I'll figure it out later. In the meantime, I ordered/rcv'd. a new MBP 15" mid 2012 comp with a 500gb hdd. I do digital photography as a hobby, mostly of my own kids. When I first got the old MBP 13, I imported everything into iPhoto not knowing any better. Eventually I manually extracted everything and renamed it all, and started using Bridge, as it synched really well with CS5 Photoshop, which I use to edit everything. I'm not *great* at Bridge, but I like how it's organized. Now that I'm starting over, I want to figure out my organization system before I import or consider importing all/any of my photo files. I really like how easy iPhoto is to use- I like the display, the "faces" feature, the rating, tags, grouping ability, etc. I think Bridge can do all these things, but I haven't yet found a tutorial that suits what I'm looking for to learn how to use it. I love that Bridge integrates so well into all of my image processing, and it doesn't mess with the files or anything. Third, I have a LOT of files, so I actually prefer to keep them stored on an external hard drive (3 drives, actually) and I have a portable "working" drive if I need to access them. I don't like how iPhoto actually imports my photos- I like to be able to find a file and open it up... I really don't like that it encodes everything the way that it does. I don't like that Bridge doesn't really help me manage my photos or favorites, and when I eject my external drive, anything not on the computer that I had added any "info" to, such as putting it into a collection, disappears if I click on it. (BY this I mean, it usually shows an exclamation point in a yellow triangle, and if I click that, it tells me there are errors,and then the collection I created disappears... so I lose that "set" even after I plug my external back in.) At this point in time, I am not buying a third program, though I've heard how awesome LR and Aperture are- it's just not an option right now no matter how amazing they are. I'd like to make some sort of happy medium with what I have. I read something about creating a library reference on the external hard drive, and pointing iPhoto to that folder (so it doesn't actually import, but does store the thumbnails) and just using bridge from the external to edit. This seems like a lot of steps though. Is there something I'm missing, here? I have about 500GB of photos at this point in time, and they are pretty well-organized into a hierarchy system I created for managing the files. It would be cool if I could still access thumbnails (or my "favs") when the external isn't attached. I don't even know what is, and what is not possible. Thank you for any help or insight! I appreciate it!