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What Problems Have You Had Migrating From iPhoto to Aperture?

PhotoJoseph's picture
March 6, 2011 - 7:28pm

The next eBook/video training I’m working on is for migrating from iPhoto to Aperture. I’d love to hear from you what specific problems you’ve encountered so I can be sure to address them in this training.

Please comment below… don’t be shy, even if you know it was user error, let me know. If you think it’s a bug, let me know. Confusing? Complicated? Unexepcted results? Whatever your experience, if less than a 100% flawless transfer, I want to know about it.

-Joseph @ApertureExpert

Apple Aperture

Aperture Projects don’t seem to inherit iPhoto’s creation dates. Causes havoc with iTunes iOS syncing if you need the last x months projects in your iPhone / iPad separated out as Events in

Wants to dump the whole image library into the device no matter what setting you use.

Would appear iTunes looks for when the library / Project was created when imported, not the dates of the images inside the Event.

May try and do a complete re-import of my iPhoto library after exporting the new Projects I have in Aperture since migrating.

I did have a referenced image library at first, but decided to go for the full managed and leave iPhoto ‘frozen’.

The other main issue I have is that apart from iTunes syncing (issue may lye here not with Aperture of course), is my 2nd gen Apple TV does not see Aperture libraries for viewing on TV. Only finds iPhoto library.

Apple need to fix this. Especially since they made Aperture so accessible cost wise when they launched the App Store (OSX). I bet a lot of new users are finding integration with other Apple devices a pain.

[minor mini rant mode off] ;)

A photo dabbler...

I imported some iPhoto images into Aperture by reference. (i.e. the master images were still in iPhoto’s library package) At some point the images became disconnected. There was no way to reconnect them because the open dialog box you get to reconnect your images doesn’t peek into the iPhoto library package. My theory is that an iPhoto upgrade changed the file structure inside the iPhoto library and Aperture then lost the path.

I had the same problem going the other way - importing Aperture (managed) images into iPhoto.

The lesson learned is to never share images between Aperture and iPhoto if you are using managed iPhoto and Aperture libraries. Aways copy them.


I performed what I thought was a simple, straight forward transfer of images but now that I am looking through my Aperture (3) library, I find that many images are missing! They have the referenced image master cannot be found icon on them…. Why the heck can’t they be found? I unfortunately deleted all of the images from iPhoto once I finished the migration and thought that they were all there. I have no idea how many images are missing. Damn.

(First time poster - very new Aperture user, but liking what I see - so Hello !!!)


You can fix the AppleTV photo display issue in iTunes.

Advanced>Choose Photos to Share… (and select Aperture, or even a folder instead of the iPhoto Library)

Yes, although it is there as a main menu item, not many know the option will exist !!!


I imported my entire iPhoto library into Aperture since I liked Aperture’s capabilities so much more than iPhoto’s. Going to iPhoto to retrieve old photos was becoming too painful over time since I was getting so used to the better capabilities of Aperture.

The surprise I encountered in the conversion process was that any images that were modified in iPhoto appeared twice in Aperture - once as the original file and then again as a modified file. The original files are labeled as “iPhoto Original” and even loose their rotation. The modified ones are labeled as “iPhoto Externally Edited”. The two images are stacked, making it clear which files are related. However the edited images are actually new master images, not modifications of the original.

Maybe my expectations are too high, but I would have liked Aperture to import the iPhoto images, convert the iPhoto edits into equivalent Aperture edits, apply the edits to the imported files, then display them with edits. Instead I have two copies of many photos which, if I wanted to clean up, would take quite a bit of effort. Either I could keep the original and apply new edits to it to make it match the previous ones I did in iPhoto, or I could keep the new file, loosing the original. Neither solution is very appealing.

However, the good news is that, assuming everything works, no images are lost in the process, only the information on how the images were edited.

I created a folder where all my iPhoto images are located so that I know files in this folder come from iPhoto and will probably require some extra care.

I’ve had exactly the same problems as Thomas Becker. I reckon, that edits in iPhoto physically cannot be translated to edits in Aperture, because of different inner workings. Just as Lightroom edits cannot be carried over to Aperture.

In the end it took me quite some time to clean up, figuring out which photo’s where merely rotated, but I’ve never switched back to iPhoto. So that’s only a one time effort. (just as much as diving into faces is a one time effort in the beginning, naming every face in your library).

Apart from losing some images in the import (a drama outlined elsewhere), my biggest issue is resyncing the images I have uploaded to MobileMe and FaceBook.

That is no fun at all. While the albums stay as they were before the swap, the link gets broken. You can go into MobileMe and say to sync to Aperture instead of iPhoto (providing you upload at least one image from Aperture beforehand !) but the process is very slow and just isn’t a great experience. I have 5Gb of images on MobileMe and the communications have been going on for days !

Facebook was much quicker but I have less data stored there…

Found another issue…

While some of the iPhoto Albums (Smart and others) transferred across to Aperture, I have found, these are only the ones on the top level.

I had created a number of albums that were in folders - these did not transfer across. This is a bit upsetting - They are still in iPhoto, anyone have any suggestions on how to transfer these across apart from reimporting the whole Library - beforehand moving these albums out of the folders into the top level !

I imported my iPhoto library into Aperture 2 about two years ago. I’ve since upgraded to Aperture 3 which I love…with several plug-ins I rarely use Photoshop CS5 any more.

When I did the original import I left the photos where they were…I figured it would use much less disc space. I have a 1 TB hard drive and have noticed it filling alarmingly recently so today I thought to empty the trash in Aperture. In the two years that I’ve been using it I’ve never emptied Aperture’s trash! Well I noticed that in the trash there are not one, but TWO items called iPhoto Library. When I expand them they both seem to have everything…slideshows, photos, books, etc. I also have, under “Projects & Albums” in Aperture, a full iPhoto Library. There’s so many things in all three iPhoto Libraries that I can’t check them all out, but they seem to be the same. I haven’t imported anything into iPhoto since I started using Aperture.

No idea why the two iPhoto Libraries are in the trash, but I assume it had something to do with my original decision when importing. Now I’m afraid to empty the Aperture trash lest I dump about 10,000 iPhoto pix! I’m going to duplicate the Aperture Library, all 137 GB of it, before I do anything rash…

Here is a weird one - not a problem, more of a benefit !

I used to use as a additional backup, the ability to copy all full res copies of the images in my iPhoto Library to a iPod Classic (in iTunes). This had, as expected gradually filled the iPod to the stage where I was down to the last GB.

Now I am using Aperture full time, I changed the iTunes settings to backup from Aperture. After “optimising” the images (with the “Full Res” checkbox still active) and copying to the iPod, I have now regained an extra 15Gb !?!?

One wonders what changes in the syncing mechanism have taken place but the iPod is showing as having the correct number of images…

I experienced the same problem Thomas Becker and Rutger Wierda described. The import process created stacks with two pictures in them: iPhoto Edited and iPhoto Original. The iPhoto Edited version was the one I wanted to keep, but the iPhoto original was the one that contained all metadata.
Initially I wanted to create an Applescript for merging the stacked pictures, but that turned out to be too complicated. So I then lifted and stamped the metadata from the iPhoto Original to the iPhoto Edited version and then rejected all originals by pressing 9. Quite a bit of work (two hours), but well worth my while as I’m very happy with Aperture.

Two problems:

1) Assuming Aperture had hung when it just takes ages and ages and ages. So I crashed out and I suspect sowed the seeds of many of my subsequent woes. That was before I knew about Activity Monitor which would have shown me that Aperture was working hard.

2) You lose the ability to browse with Front Row.



One of the biggest dilemas I’ve had with migrating from iPhoto to Aperture (as several have noted before me) is trying to decide what to do with the original and modified photos from iPhoto. If you delete one or the other, you lose valuable information. For now, my strategy is to keep both, except for cases where I’ve decided to re-implement the modifications, which I apply to the original in Aperture, then I toss the modified file. This has been a good exercise, too, in learning the modification tools, which are a joy to use. Anyway, the point is that it took me a while to figure this out, so your book should help clarify what’s going on and help users make the right decision for themselves.

Since iPhoto > Aperture is a clear upgrade strategy, Apple should eventually fix this, probably by aligning iPhoto’s library structure with Aperture’s (i.e. by use the same underlying master/version implementation, but perhaps without supporting multiple versions in iPhoto.) In fact, this is one of the most significant features of Aperture that made me want to upgrade. I found myself often needing multiple versions of a photo in iPhoto, for different aspect ratios as well as different adjustments, such as color and black & white. Furthermore, I often wanted to go back to see what the master looked like again, which is nearly impossible in iPhoto, without losing all of the adjustments. It would be helpful to list this as a significant reason to upgrade, along with a few other key features, like the ease of managing libraries (switching and relocating).


Just rebuilt my Library (because I changed dates of all images in a project but the project date didn’t update…), and it appears that the missing albums (the ones that were in folders) leftover from the iPhoto transfer, have now become visible again !

Anyone else ?

The problems I had and still have are the file structures. I loved iPhoto for the simplicity, but needed to use some external programs as I typically create a new iPhoto library for each year, and then have events inside of that. My events didn’t seem to transfer over cleanly and the project/folder/album still is confuses me.

My main reason for upgrading to Aperture was to have more control over book projects that I had created. Aperture allows more customisation of things like text box size and photo layout. Unfortunately it won’t let me import existing iPhoto books that I wanted to improve. Really don’t want to have to start them again :( BOO!

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