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Aperture Tracks Referenced Files Moved Via Finder #1
Walter Rowe's picture
by Walter Rowe
March 28, 2015 - 12:14pm

I learned something new today about Aperture. I don’t know if this is common knowledge, and I don’t know how long Aperture has had this feature. If you have an Aperture library of referenced images open, and you move any referenced images or folders from that library around via Finder, Aperture tracks it without you needing to tell Aperture about the new location!

Did anyone else know Aperture would do this? Have I simply been in the dark all this time? I fully anticipated that if I moved things around in Finder, then I would have to tell Aperture where I moved it. It appears that if the library is open in Aperture, Aperture gets events from Finder and so it knows when it’s referenced files are moved and then updates itself with the new location.

If you want to know some details of how I discovered this then keep reading. If not, you can stop here.

In my master library, I relocated all my originals to a referenced location outside the library. I used the built-in Folder/Project preset for the path and selected a new top-level folder call Aperture Originals as my destination. When Aperture was done, the new referenced directory tree didn’t completely match my library structure. I have some nested folders and this preset only gets the bottom level Folder/Project path combination. For example, in my library I have a Masters > Travel > Maryland folder tree with projects inside for each different Maryland locale like Annapolis, Baltimore, etc. In relocating originals, I ended up with just the Maryland > Annapolis structure without the upper level Masters > Travel folders. I fully expected that after I created these upper level folders and moved the lower level folders into their proper place to match my library structure, that I then would have to tell Aperture to locate these referenced files and reconnect these originals in their new locations. I didn’t!

I had the Aperture Library open while moving things around in Finder. Aperture kept track of these moves. It must be getting events from Finder and updating it’s location information as referenced files and folders are moved. As a test to prove Aperture really was tracking this stuff, I moved a single image via Finder to a directory completely outside my top level “relocate originals” destination. Aperture updated itself with the new location of the individual image. I moved the image back. Aperture kept track of that too!

I imagine if the Aperture library isn’t open, then I would have to manually reconnect my originals with their new location. But if the Aperture library is open, Aperture keeps track of it.


DJC's picture
by DJC
March 31, 2015 - 3:16pm


I have my Aperture library set up as referenced.  I also have some of the same images in LR5.  Reading your comment reminds me that I had also noticed the tracking between Aperture and Finder a while back.  However, I’ve also discovered if one moves an image in the LR5 folder (to a different folder on the hard drive), those changes are also reflected in Aperture, assuming images exist in both Aperture *and* LR5.  I just verified this by moving a couple files in LR5 and checking Aperture’s “show in finder” feature.  It doesn’t work the other way around, however; moving an image in Finder or Aperture won’t update the link in LR.  Hope this makes sense!



Walter Rowe's picture
by Walter Rowe
March 31, 2015 - 3:48pm

Makes total sense. Lightroom probably isn't getting these filesystem events that Aperture is getting. But if you move something inside Lightroom, that would trigger a filesystem event just like Finder and Aperture gets that .. as long as Aperture has that Library open.

In fact, I bet if you used Lightroom's Batch Rename feature to rename your files on disk, I bet Aperture would update it's filenames as well. I would hesitate doing a large quantity at a time in fear of Aperture not getting all of these events, but doing them in controlled sets would probably work just fine.

There are some Mac enterprise management tools that use this filesystem monitoring features to make a record of what files are created or updated during app installs so that you can repackage these file sets for distributing to lots of Macs throughout an enterprise. Think along the lines of Microsoft Office installs, etc.

DJC's picture
by DJC
March 31, 2015 - 4:50pm

Yes, pretty cool.  If I end up migrating to LR (still undecided) it may be useful to finesse my image locations as I import into LR…something I’d been intending to do in Aperture but found it tedious.  I tend to like my image file system structure parallel my image organization in Aperture/LR, then build albums/collections respectively.

Thanks for bringing this subject up.  I really prefer using a referenced structure and glad I did in Aperture as it should make thing easier in whatever app I end up with.  I really appreciate all the help, analyses, and comment offered on this site.


Sascha's picture
by Sascha
April 22, 2015 - 3:38am

Quoting Walter:

“In my master library, I relocated all my originals to a referenced location outside the library. I used the built-in Folder/Project preset for the path and selected a new top-level folder call Aperture Originals as my destination. When Aperture was done, the new referenced directory tree didn’t completely match my library structure.”

I am currently in the same situation. Now that LR6 is out, I want to finally switch over from Aperture. 

I wonder if this “folder flattening” can somehow be overcome? In my case, I work with a very deep folder hierarchy and it would be more than a pain to have to manually put everything in place manually.

Any hints? 

Walter Rowe's picture
by Walter Rowe
April 22, 2015 - 3:51am

Yes! You can't have Aperture automatically recreate your entire folder tree. However, once you have relocated your originals into Folder/Project structure, you can leave Aperture open and use Finder to move your folders around to your liking. Aperture will get notices from OS X that you have moved them and it will update the Aperture file location for you.

Not the perfect solution, but at least you only have to do some moving of folders in the Finder window while you have your Aperture Library open and Aperture will keep up with you. You will NOT have to “Locate Referenced Files” to reconnect them. Aperture tracks with you as long as you have the Library open while moving things with Finder. You can even move individual images and it will keep track of them.

Sascha's picture
by Sascha
April 22, 2015 - 5:06am

Thanks Walter. This will still be a lot of work in my case. I was wondering if it maybe possible to specify something like FolderName/FolderName/FolderName/ProjectName in the Relocate options.

The thing is, if you do an Export rather than Relocate, it keeps the complete hierarchy. Weird.


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