The Photos App in Action: How to Keep the Apple App Under Control

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For amateur photographers and casual crackers, Apple’s Photos app is the application of choice to manage and manipulate images. Let’s show you how to do it.

Since April 2015 – as part of the update on OS X “Yosemite” – the Photos app, called “Photos” in English, has followed in the footsteps of iPhoto. Initially, the criticism was great, as initially many of iPhoto known and popular with the users functions had been eliminated. Meanwhile, the excitement has subsided and the new photo application from Apple is even more powerful and has more features than its predecessor. Above all, the image editing capabilities has complemented Apple and the integration into iCloud and the extension of plug-ins and third-party apps enabled. It does not matter if you shoot with a digital SLR, a system or a compact camera, with the photos app it is easy to organize and edit pictures. And with the iPhone or iPad, the Photos app and iCloud work even a little better together.

The number of photos you make with your camera and iPhone every day is likely to increase. The same applies to the amount of data, as the resolution of the photos has increased over the years. Therefore, preserving the overview is more important than ever.

 Once "Copy objects to the photo library" is activated, photos are stored centrally in one place.

As soon as “Copy objects to the photo media library” is activated, photos are stored centrally in one place. (Picture: Screenshot)

First and foremost, you should always import your photos immediately and not leave them permanently on the memory card or on the iPhone. Memory cards are unsuitable for archiving photos because they can break quickly. Furthermore, you should look at your photos as soon as possible on the Mac and delete any errors immediately and mark particularly successful. In this way, you not only save the notoriously scarce space on the hard disk or SSD of your Mac, you also separate the wheat from the chaff and find your photographic masterpieces later faster. Then you have to sort the photos into albums, edit them if necessary and pass them on or present them in different ways.

In this article, we explain how to use and show the basic functions of the photo app thus a possible “workflow” with the photo app, which you can use as an example.

Configure the photo app

The photo app is included in the delivery of macOS and is on each new Mac preinstalled, so you do not need to purchase them separately. However, you should make three basic settings.

Use multiple Photos libraries, then set one of them as “System Photo Library”. Namely, it should be the photo library that your other apps should have access to with the appropriate features and will also serve as the iCloud Photos library.

Also, specify whether the photos are outside the photos library should be placed in folders or copied directly into the library. Again, set the case, you want to use the iCloud Photos library, the entry “Copy objects to the Fotomediathek”. Incidentally, it is also better to manage the photos in the media library to avoid any inconsistencies and problems.

Last but not least, indicate whether the symbol and sidebar are also in full-screen mode App should be displayed or not. The setting can be found in the “View” menu.

The import of your photos takes place in different ways, depending on the format and where they are.

Acquire iPhoto libraries

If you own only one iPhoto library, it will be automatically opened and converted the first time the Photos app is started. If you have multiple iPhoto libraries, the Photos app will ask you which one to convert first. If the conversion is complete – which can take quite a few hours for a large iPhoto library – delete the old iPhoto library if you no longer need it or make a backup on an external disk. The old iPhoto Library, after being converted, gets the file extension “* .migratedphotolibrary” so you can distinguish it from the unconverted ones.

Import photos from disk

Photos, the If you’re already on your Mac’s hard drive or on an external hard drive, you can quickly get into the photo library. To do this, select the “Import” command from the “File” menu, then the folder where the photos are located, and then click “Check for Import.” Then the photos are imported.

The Photos app is capable of importing images in the most popular formats, such as JPEG, TIFF and PNG. Of course, the program also recognizes files in the iPhone and iPad under iOS 11 known HEIF (High Efficiency Image) format and movies in the video format HEIC. However, a Mac with macOS 10.13 “High Sierra” is required.

The import of manufacturer-specific RAW files is also possible, as far as macOS supports the appropriate format. For new RAW formats, Apple will periodically release updates that you should install if you have an appropriate camera.

Digital Camera, iPhone or iPad Photos

To view photos of the digital camera or from the iPhone or iPad into the photo library, connect the devices either with the appropriate cable to the Mac or – in the case of a digital camera – insert the SD card or micro SD card (with adapter) into the card reader of your Mac. Subsequently, the corresponding entry appears in the side bar under “Devices”. If you click on this button, all the new photos appear in the main window on the right, which you can then transfer to the Photos library with a mouse click on the button “Import all new objects”. If photos or videos have already been imported, they will be displayed under “Already imported” above. If the photos are to be deleted from the iPhone or iPad or the SD card of the digital camera, select the setting “Delete objects after import” before importing.

You can then find all imported photos in the “Imports” entry on the left in the sidebar. When clicked, they will be listed by date of recording.

Overview of the Photos app

Mac users who have already worked with iPhoto and whom iTunes is familiar, you will quickly find your way around the photos app. However, compared to iPhoto, there are some differences that could cause some confusion in the first place.

For example, in the Photos app, the photos are no longer sorted into the “events” popular with many users. The existing “events” of your iPhoto library will not be lost, they will be converted into albums. These can be found in the sidebar under “iPhoto Events”. Instead, the Photos app organizes your pictures by “photos,” “moments,” “collections,” and “years.” You can switch to the corresponding views by clicking on the button of the same name.

The actual “command bridge” of the Photos app is the sidebar. There you will find the default entries that match the iTunes playlists, the connected device or memory card entries, and My Albums, Media Types, and Projects. Finally, at the top right you will find the search box and functions for sharing photos, for information on the photos or for rating.

View and rate photos

As already mentioned, you will find your newly imported pictures under the entry “Imports” in the sidebar of the Photos app. There they sift through it picture by picture. Your pictures will be automatically sorted by the Photos app according to the shooting date and recording time. To view a photo, just click with the mouse. To zoom in on the photo, move the slider located in the upper left corner of the toolbar to the right with the mouse. If you are using a trackpad, pull your thumb and forefinger apart on the trackpad to zoom in on the image.

To delete a photo, press the clear / backspace key and confirm the deletion with the input key. Button. If you like the photo, click on the heart symbol in the upper right corner. To view the recording data, use the small info symbol (“i”) in the upper left corner to display the information window. To scroll to the next photo, click the right arrow key or swipe left on the trackpad with two fingers.

You can find your deleted photos in the sidebar using the “Recently deleted” entry. There you can put them with the button “delete all” finally in the trash or with “Restore” if necessary in the original albums go back. If you do not delete the photo library’s trash yourself, the photos it contains will be deleted automatically, thirty days after they have been placed in the “trash”. Incidentally, the photos rated as good with a heart are listed under “Favorites.”

Organize photos

Since the Photos app does not automatically create “events” like iPhoto, you only have them If you still have the appropriate names, you should take this into your own hands. To do this, switch to the “Imports” entry and select the associated photos from an imported photo tour.

To do this, click on the first photo and hold down the [Shift] button. Then click on the last photo of the respective import. All desired photos are now marked. The Create New Album From Selection command in the File menu creates the new album. It immediately appears in the first place under “My albums”. There you also give the album a meaningful name.

If desired, add the imported photos or a selection of them to an already existing album to create albums with them to assemble certain photo motifs. These can be pictures of a specific location, such as a species in the zoo. To do this, select the photos as described or individually with a mouse click and open the context menu with the secondary mouse button. Here you select the command “Add to” and then the appropriate album or the entry “New Album”.

Please note: If you delete photos with the delete / backspace button, you do not delete them the Fotomediathek, but only from the corresponding album. To delete the photo immediately and without asking, use the key combination [cmd] + [Lösch-/Rückschritt]. The photo can then only be found under “Recently deleted” in the sidebar.

Search photos

One of the highlights of the Photos app by macOS is the new search function. This allows not only the search for the album title, the photo name and keywords, but also the search for image and pattern recognition. However, this function is still incomplete and does not go into much detail. Although the photos app does not find pictures with “flowers” and even “roses”, photos with magnolias or camellias are not. Also, the program finds photos of elephants, but not of mammoths.

Type the search term (s) in the top right corner of the search box. At the top of the search result under “Category” are listed all photos in which the image recognition could recognize the pattern or motif.


Taking pictures with the iPhone or iPad, the photos and geographic data – ie the location of the photograph – are usually saved. The same applies if you have a digital camera with GPS function or even a DSLR camera to which a GPS receiver is connected. The Photos app will be able to extract this geographic information.

To find out which photos in your photo library contain geographic information, select “Places” under “Library” in the sidebar. Then a map will appear showing the thumbnails and the number of photos of a particular location. The geographic information can be changed. You can also add photos that do not have them. To do this, select the photo or photos in the photo library and open the “Information” window with the secondary mouse button or the small information symbol in the upper right corner. In the “Information” window, click on “Add location” and enter the location – preferably the exact address. The Photos app searches for this and complements the images with the geographic data.

Photos tagged

As already shown in the article, the Photos app has pattern recognition, which allows you to search for subjects like “flower” or “elephant”. In addition, you have the opportunity to tag your pictures. Tagging takes place using the keyword manager, which you call up in the “Window” menu. Here you can add single or even more keywords to your photos with the click of a mouse. Use the “Edit keywords” button to enter new keywords or change existing ones. The more precisely you formulate your keywords and the more keywords they combine in the search, the more accurate the search results become.

The Construction of the Photos-Mediathek

Even if the photo library is displayed as a “normal” file in the Finder, it is not. Instead, it is a kind of container – called “bundle” in macOS – in which there are many folders and files. To take a look at the bundle, select the photo library and open the shortcut menu with the secondary mouse button. There select the command “Show package contents”. Now all folders and files that are in the bundle will be displayed. You can find your original photos in the subfolder “Masters” – sorted by year and date of recording.

Please do not change the name of the folder, the files and the entire folder structure! Do not delete files there or add new ones. Otherwise there is a risk of data loss and the media library may not be opened by the Photos app.

The iCloud Photo Library

If you wish, you can transfer your entire photo library to the iCloud. It’s available on all your Macs, iPhones and iPads. Changes you make to your different devices are automatically applied. However, there are also limitations: You can only upload a photo library, your system photo library in iCloud. In addition, of course, the storage space is limited. If you own a large photo library, you will need to buy storage space. Last but not least, you must be logged on to any Mac, iPod or iPhone with the same Apple ID.

Apple Photos

Meanwhile, Apple’s photo app not only offers the ability to manage images, but also many handy features. This way, photos can be edited by extensions of third-party apps.

Workshop: Using Important Editing Functions Purposefully

Workshop: Presenting and Passing Photos Appealing

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