How to Switch to Photos App from iPhoto on macOS?

Photos is a new application, included into all OS’s starting with OS X 10.10.3 Yosemite. Learn all about switching from iPhoto or Aperture to Photos app.

The process of updating to the new Photos app is automatic. After a user installs any of the latest OS’s, starting with OS X Yosemite 10.10.3, Photos appear on their Mac as a part of the update. In most of the cases, the users who had only one library of iPhotos in their folder Pictures, have the whole library – which includes projects, albums, photos and videos – automatically transferred in iPhoto once they open it.

Transferring two and more photo libraries

choose library iphoto

If a user has two and more libraries of photos on their Mac, the Photos app will inquire which of the libraries you’d like to upgrade as soon as you first open the app. Photos app lets you work with the photo libraries which you’ve created earlier in Aperture or iPhoto.

For manual migration of your photo library do the following:

  1. Quit the app Photos.
  2. Open the app Photos once again while holding the Option key down.
  3. Select one of your photo libraries and click the option Choose Library. If the library you’d like to transfer isn’t on the list, click the option Other Library. Navigate and select the required library, next click the option Open.

Alternatively, you can drag the photo library you want to open on top of the icon of Photos placed in the Dock. Also, you create an empty, brand new library by clicking Create New.

Photos app operates all libraries starting with iPhotos 8.0 and later, plus all Aperture versions. Those users, who’d like to transfer their libraries from iPhoto 7 and earlier versions, need to use iPhoto Library Upgrader – a free Apple’s tool, which helps you to prepare the library before its migration.

All you need to know about the new library in Photos

  • By default, Photos app stores your libraries in the folder Pictures on Mac.
  • After an upgrade an Aperture or iPhoto library, your library in Photos will be kept in the same location on Mac as the original photo library. Master files used for the Photos app are the same as for Aperture or iPhoto. Thus, you don’t need to use the double amount of space for running both applications.
  • In Photos app, all iPhoto events become albums. You can find them in iPhoto events folder, in the view Albums.
  • Some kinds of metadata, such as flags and stars ratings, will now become keywords; this lets you search any of them easily.
  • In case you use several libraries, you can mark a System Photo Library, to let iCloud, iMovie, Mail and some other applications access the images you’d like to use.
Note. In case you store the library of Photos in a location which belongs to one of the cloud services (such as Google Drive, Box or Dropbox), your photo library might be damaged in the process of syncing, causing the loss of all your photos.

To be able to view your images on all of your Apple devices, use iCloud Photo Library. Time Machine will help you to back up the library.

Using Aperture and iPhoto after migration to Photos

Aperture, as well as iPhoto, stays in your OS in the folder Applications, so you can keep using it. Once you launch Aperture or iPhoto after having upgraded to Photos, the system will ask you if you’d like to open the library in these apps through the Photos.

Remember that none of the edit made in Aperture or iPhoto will be reflected and shown in Photos. Likewise, no changes done in Photos are reflected in Aperture or iPhoto.

Enable iCloud Photo Library

In case you want to use your Photo Library in iCloud after having upgraded to Photos app, you can enable it going to Photos, then Preferences and iCloud. From now on, videos and images from the System Photo Library will be uploaded to iCloud in the original format and full resolution. The size of your media collection will be estimated by Photos; if needed, the app will advise you to select another plan of storage in iCloud.

You can enable your iOS portable device or Mac computer to manage the size of the image library on your device automatically. This option can be especially handy for the users who have a big collection of media files or for the ones whose device is running out of free disk space. All you need to do on Mac is to open Photos, go to Preferences – iCloud, and click Optimize Mac Storage. On an iOS device, open Settings, go to Photos and click Optimize Storage.

Having optimized the storage, you will be able to save more space. The original images and videos in the full resolution will be saved automatically in iCloud storage. However, even when online you’ll be able to access your media files the lightweight small-sized versions of which will always be available on your device.

The single library kept in iCloud Photo Library is called System Photo Library; it stays updated on all of the user’s devices. Any changes in the System Photo Library are synced with all contents kept in iCloud. Remember that it’s not possible to reverse such changes.

Backing up Photos library with Time Machine

iCloud is a great tool for storing your media files. However, we highly recommend to regularly backup your Apple device using Time Machine, to keep track of all of the latest changes in the Photos library.

It’s best to keep backups of Time Machine and your Photos library on different drives. A good way is to store the library of Photos in its default location – in the folder Pictures. You can adjust Time Machine to keep its backups on a Time Capsule, a network disk or on an external Mac drive.