Help me with my photo storage and viewing, please.
September 20, 2008 12:07 AM   Subscribe

I need to speed up my mac/iPhoto by managing my files and workflow better. Can I speed up my clunky iPhoto? Or should I abandon it for another program?

I'm using a two year old 17" macbook pro. Recently everything has gotten slow. I think my hard drive is just too full, so I'd like to start paring down by getting my photo situation under control.

iPhoto has always been extremely slow, so I'd like either a solution to that problem or a suggestion of another way to deal with my photos. The way it works now is that when I plug my camera into the laptop, iPhoto opens and imports the files. This means that I have to go through iPhoto selecting photos, finding the file, and deleting both the file and the thumbnail to get rid of whichever ones didn't come out well. This is extra annoying when the photos have been auto rotated and therefore have both an original file and a modified file (arg!!!). Also, I do all of my editing in Photoshop, if that matters.

So, I'm looking for some advice on how/where to store my files and how/where to view them in order to speed things up and get rid of the annoyance I'm experiencing.
posted by monkeygenius to Computers & Internet (8 answers total)
your harddrive being more than 2/3rd full will slow things down but iphoto has never been all that good with large databases. having iphoto work through less photos will speed it up but it's still gonna be iphoto. have you considered aperture or lightroom? both are powerful editing apps (starring, folders, small enhancment work sans photoshop, etc...) and both are affordable. take a look at the various video tutotials and introductions on both sites as well as youtube. I personally prefer aperture but both are good and faster than iphoto.

I would suggest you should get one (or two) external hard drives. 300gb firewire drives from your trusty apple store should do the trick. consider purchasing two because eventually one of your drives (including the internal one) will fail. that's not a possibility but a given, so backup.

should you be a serious photographer who is worried about a catastrophic loss (like your house burning down or theft of all hardware), I'd recommend an online photo storage service like
posted by krautland at 1:59 AM on September 20, 2008

Splitting up one very large iPhoto library into several smaller ones might be helpful. iPhoto Library Manager (free/shareware) is a useful tool for this.
posted by dseaton at 3:41 AM on September 20, 2008

More RAM is often helpful in this situation; I also upgraded from iPhoto to Aperture and agree with krautland.
posted by TedW at 4:20 AM on September 20, 2008

1. Are you using the current version of iPhoto (v7)? It's an improvement over the older ones.
2. Have you emptied the trash in iPhoto (which is unrelated to desktop trash)?
posted by adamrice at 6:21 AM on September 20, 2008

Are you on Tiger or Leopard. Are you just using iPhoto as a viewer/sorter? Are you dealing with RAW files or jpgs?

I've never been a fan of iPhoto, so I use FR-Photo Studio instead for quick sorting and Photoshop for editing. The GUI is butt-ugly, but the app itself is cheap and fast.
posted by LuckySeven~ at 9:42 AM on September 20, 2008

I highly recommend Lightroom, especially since you are a heavy PS user. It's not cheap at $200, but it's indispensable if you are a serious photographer.

Lightroom lets you organize your photos in whatever structure you want. It also has a very nice way of doing selections (called picks) that lets you blaze through weeding out the initial set of pictures.

I used to edit all of my photos through PS as well, but now I rarely ever fire it up. Lightroom does all the major editing that photographers need (eg. color adjustments, sharpening, local corrections). It also has some very nice integration with Photoshop.

Also, I solved the full hard drive problem by upgrading my internal hard drives. 320 GB laptop drives are pretty cheap these days (~$100).
posted by kenliu at 5:49 PM on September 20, 2008

I've also heard that Photo Mechanic is good for managing photos, but for $150 you might as well just get Lightroom.
posted by kenliu at 5:50 PM on September 20, 2008

I think you are spending far too much time doing things iPhoto does well.

I just checked to be sure: using iPhoto '08 (version 7.1.4(371)), I found an imported photo that I could disperse of. It was an auto-rotated one, so I checked to see if there were two copies, one for the original and one for the rotated version. Then in iPhoto I deleted the picture by selecting it and pressing back-space. That does not delete it from the harddrive of course, but merely put it into the iPhoto Trash. Then I emptied the iPhoto Trash and poof, the two jpgs were gone from the harddrive. I have no idea why you want to do that process yourself, except for doing too much work. Eventually you will just delete the wrong files and then iPhoto will really act up! Anyone I have seen doing work on the original files outside iPhoto has been caught in the act, so to speak.

You fail to mention a couple of things, though: 1) How much RAM do you have? Anything less than 2 GB will be too slow for anyone. 2) How full is your harddrive. I can second the call for a larger drive. 3) what version of OS X are you using?

Another thing you could do is when you start-up iPhoto, hold down cmd-alt. In iPhoto '08(7.1.4) it will let you rebuilt different databases like thumbnails etc.
posted by KimG at 3:13 AM on September 21, 2008

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