Macworld Article on Setting Up an iPhoto Referenced Library


If you want to take advantage of iPhoto's latest capabilities, but don't want to commit your master images to its internal database, there is a way. You can set up a referenced library scenario that allows you the freedom to switch among any non-destructive photo manager -- such as Aperture, iPhoto, Lightroom, and Adobe Bridge -- for the same set of original images. And none of them will alter your originals in any way. It's not an approach for the average consumer. But photographers desiring lots of flexibility might be interested.

In my latest Macworld article, Store photos outside of iPhoto's library, I show you how to set up a catalog of master images on a separate hard drive, then "point" iPhoto to them. Instead of ingesting your masters into its internal database, iPhoto notes their location, then refers to them when you need to work.

There are lots of insightful comments that accompany the article, and I encourage you to read them all. One very important point that comes up in the ensuing discussion is that you should test this method of image management first before committing your entire library to it. But for certain people, this approach allows you to play with new iPhoto features such as geotagging and face recognition, while still having the flexibility to use other applications with that same set of images.

twitter.jpg Follow me on Twitter



Thanks for the article. I use a shared library between Lightroom and iPhoto. iPhoto I use primarily because of the tight OS X integration and GPS/Name Tagging. But this doesn't work for me because of a few problems I can't figure out:

Keywording- Keywording in iPhoto doesn't seem to "bake" itself into the files. So keywords used in iPhoto aren't seen in Lightroom. Is there an easy solution for this?

Names - iPhoto naming is great but is there a way to turn those names into keywords (again, writing in to metadata would be great)

Deleting Files - Both iPhoto and Lightroom HATE it when you delete a file from another app so how do you do it with your shared library method? (Sorry for the rant but iTunes/iPhoto are a decade behind in file management because they don't use "folder monitoring" the way many modern apps do. Adding or deleting a file shouldnt result in the app updating the library instead of a gray box of death.)

Okay, well I appreciate the article and its inspired me to try figuring this out again. I really want to get things running smooth.

iPhoto does not bake keywords into the image. And as an overall comment about iPhoto, I think you have to recognize its design and purpose... to be a consumer photo management tool. So in you case, I recommend you do your serious photo management in Lightroom, and save iPhoto for the fun stuff that it does well.