Setting up: iPhoto, Bridge, AND external hard drive

Discussion in 'Mac Basics and Help' started by PacSunMama, Nov 9, 2012.

  1. PacSunMama macrumors newbie

    Nov 9, 2012
    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!
  2. MacTinker macrumors newbie

    Nov 9, 2012
    iPhoto Preferences

    In the Preferences screen for iPhoto you can select if you want iPhoto to Import them or not (ie leave them where they are and just reference them).

    See screenshot.

    Attached Files:

  3. PacSunMama thread starter macrumors newbie

    Nov 9, 2012
    Sorry for the delayed response, and thanks for the advice and feedback!

    So to clarify- if I reference my files and do not import them into iPhoto, can I still create tags and group photos as I see fit, mark favorites, etc.? Will it create thumbnails for me to use when my external drive is not connected, therefore not bogging my computer down with hundreds of gbs of photos?

    Thanks again!
  4. PacSunMama thread starter macrumors newbie

    Nov 9, 2012
    This is what I'm trying out now:

    In iPhoto, I have created a referenced library in my user folder on the HDD(not importing into iPhoto.) I have pointed iPhoto to my Pictures folder on my main portable external, and am importing them currently. I already have most of my files sorted and labeled, by year, then by event "number" (mostly in order of date) and then some of those have folders inside. I have to merge those manually, since it seems iPhoto puts any folders in the main "event" section."

    When I eject the external, I can still see thumbnails and all of my photos. I can't make any edits, but I can at least see them and shuffle through them. I'm trying to figure out how I can see the thumbnail in a full screen preview- it will open it to that size, but then it tells me that it can't find the photo. I'm not looking to make edits, just have all my photos available at the click of a button, and if I want to do anything further, I will attach my drive and then can open it.

    Hoping this majorly condenses my photos so it takes a teeny fraction of space on my HDD, but I can still quickly sort through photos to share with friends while I'm out. Would be cool if I can set up a screensaver too, without the drive attached.

    I haven't even opened Bridge yet- my new MBP came with issues, so I finally took it into Apple last night and they reinstalled my OS and extended my "14-day" return policy for another 5 days so I can make sure it's what I want, as it was nothing but trouble the first 2 weeks.
  5. spork183 macrumors 6502a


    Jul 30, 2006
    I'm curious on how this works out for you. Please keep posting your progress. :)
  6. snberk103 macrumors 603

    Oct 22, 2007
    An Island in the Salish Sea
    Please don't take this wrong, and I say this (partially) with tongue in cheek... But you're using iPhoto wrong.

    I'm not sure why you found iPhoto hard to use to organize your images. I suspect you were not using Albums and Smart Albums, and relying on the Events. Basically, by using iPhotos Folders and Albums and you can essentially duplicate the nested folder structure many people use with Finder.

    You can also set up iPhoto to use whatever external image editing application you like to use.

    The general idea with iPhoto is that you use it exclusively as the interface to your images. Yes, it can take a little bit to get used to... no denying that. But once you do alter your workflow the benefits can be huge. Basically, you import into iPhoto, let iPhoto manage your images. Use Folders and Albums to create the structure you like. Use iPhoto's editing features for the easy stuff. Use the external editor (whatever you have set it to) for the heavy editing.

    The advantages are this. First, iPhoto is a Digital Asset Manager (DAM). The core aspect is the database. When you 'import' an image, all iPhoto is doing is creating a database entry. If you use a referenced library it that's all that happens - a database entry is created. If you use the default (and recommended) behaviour iPhoto copies or moves the image into it's hidden file system. This is recommended because it protects the database from corruption. If the image is edited or moved without iPhoto being aware of it - that database entry is now corrupted. In a referenced library you have to be careful to not edit or move an image outside of iPhoto.

    When iPhoto moves an image into it's file system, it doesn't change it. Nor does it ever change this original file. All the edits you make using the iPhoto editor are merely recorded in the database. In a referenced library if you look at the image not using iPhoto, you will see that all those edits you made are not there. This is because those edits are not implemented until you 'export' the image. At this point iPhoto creates a new image - based on the original, using the database entries. What this means is that your original image is never altered and you can always go back to it if you totally screw up the editing. This is called non-destructive editing. Photoshop (and other image editors) use 'destructive' editing because the default behaviour is to replace the original image with the edited one. Bad news if you resize it to icon size and save on top of the original. This is never an issue with iPhoto.

    In the case of iPhoto calling the external editor, when the editor closes the new edited image is saved next to the original - untouched - image. This protects the original from rogue editing.

    The advantage of using Folders and Albums is that an image can appear in as many Albums as you want, without increasing storage needs. That's because the image is not actually in an iPhoto Album. Remember that database? When you open an Album what you are actually looking at are the database entries for the Album, not the images.

    So... say you have Albums for Christmas, Thanksgiving, Family, and Friends. Your friend Chris comes over for Thanksgiving. You can put that photo into the two Albums. They come over for Christmas, and you take a photo of them with your family. Those photos can be put into all three albums. With an organizer such as Bridge, you'd have to either make a copies and put them into the appropriate folders, or you'd have to decide which one folder was best. iPhoto doesn't limit you that way. As well, any edits you do on an image in iPhoto are reflected in all the Albums that image appears in. So if you adjust the colour of Chris in the Christmas Album, then it is corrected in all the Albums (though you can clone the image, and make changes to the cloned image, leaving the first image alone... Colour and BW variants, for example).

    This is just a start of how iPhoto can be a very powerful tool.

    Hope this helps.
  7. PacSunMama thread starter macrumors newbie

    Nov 9, 2012
    Oh Lordy... will get back to this forum in a week or so. The refurb'd MBP I bought is incredibly bugging. Taking it to trade in for the newer, 13in version tomorrow and I get to start all over. Again. Whee!! :rolleyes:
    Thank you for the advice though! I will definitely consider it and try it out. I don't want to store my photos all on my computer though- that's WAY Too many photos to have all the time. I don't need most of them... I'm okay with keeping the last 2 years or so, but certainly not the other 10+ years. I have a portable drive I keep with me all the time. Although the 13in I'm trading in for has a 750gb hdd so maybe that's not too bad to keep them on board with me. I'm just not sure- maybe I am just not using iPhoto correctly, but it seems difficult to figure out if I want anything more than a pretty slideshow!
  8. snberk103 macrumors 603

    Oct 22, 2007
    An Island in the Salish Sea
    Bad luck about the MBP...

    You can use iPhoto with more than one library. Old stuff in one library, current stuff in a second library. Regardless... you will want to back up everything to a another drive entirely.

    I am tutoring little old ladies on how to use iPhoto. Seriously. If they can do it... you can do it. And they are doing more than slideshows too.

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