Emptying the Trash in Aperture 3—What Really Happens?
UPDATE: Scroll to the end for a video version of this tip!
Aperture 3 added the Trash folder so deleted photos and projects are easily recoverable, but once you empty the trash, what really happens? How are managed vs referenced files handled on deletion? Can you accidentially delete a photo that’s still in use elsewhere in the application? And is there any hope after hitting “empty trash”?
These question and more, tackled below…
Let’s throw some stuff away!
The best way to find out what happens is to try it out, and check the results! So here we go. Here’s what’s going in the trash.
- Project A which contains Photo A1 (managed) and Photo A2 (referenced) in it.
- Album B1 from Project B, containing Photo B1. Note that Project B1 will not be thrown away (so that Photo B1 is still in use, in a Project B).
- Project C containing Photo C1 will go in the trash. However Photo C1 is being used in a Book B1, which lives in Project B. This book will NOT be deleted.
- Photo D1- Version 2 will go in the trash from Project D. Notice that the original, Photo D1, will not go in the trash.
Here’s some screen shots (click to view larger):
Project A which contains Photo A1 (managed) and Photo A2 (referenced) in it will go in the trash. We want to know what happens to the master files (the .CR2s that were imported originally). Remember, one of those master files lives in the Aperture library (the managed one), and the referenced one is floating around in the Finder somewhere.
Album B1 from Project B, containing Photo B1, will go in the trash. Note that Project B1 itself will not be thrown away (so that Photo B1 is still in use, in Project B). We want to see if the Photo B1 will be deleted, which would be bad, because it’s still in Project B.
Project C containing Photo C1, which is a master file, will go in the trash. But notice…
…Photo C1 is being used in a Book B1, which lives in Project B. Book B1 will not be deleted. So we want to see what happens when we try to delete a master file that’s clearly in use.
Photo D1 - Version 2 will be deleted, but not the original, Photo D1. We want to see if when we empty the trash, the master .CR2 file that Aperture is using for both Photo D1 and Photo D1 - Version 2 gets deleted.
Off it all goes to the bin
Selecting each of these one at a time, Project A with its photos went into the trash without complaint. Album B1 also went into the trash without complaint. Photo D1 - Version 2 went into the trash without complaint. However trying to delete Project C, which contains a photo being used in Book B1, got the following warning message:
This tells us a lot—read it.
Some versions based on these master files are included in albums outside of the selection.
First, this tells us these are Master files. We also deleted Master files in Project A, but got no warning. Why not? Because they weren’t being used anywhere else, and deleting them wouldn’t affect any other project, book, slideshow, etc. However in this case, the first part of that sentence tells us that some versions of these photos are being used elsewhere. So what happens if we proceed?
These versions will be removed from all Albums, Books, Light Tables, Web Pages, Web Journals, Slideshows, MobileMe Albums, Flickr Albums, and Facebook Albums.
That’s big—those photos will essentially cease to exist. Don’t take that lightly. Not only will they be deleted locally, but if you’re sharing these photos online on Facebook, Flickr or MobileMe through Aperture’s sharing services, they will be erased from there, too. Only proceed if you are really, really sure.
Oh, and I’d recommend you don’t select the Do not show this message again option. I think that’s a recipe for disaster, as it’s quite easy to think something isn’t being used when in fact it is.
But hey, this is a demo, so I’m gonna go head and click Move To Trash!
Wait, what happened to my book?
Here’s the book since we ignored the warning and deleted Project C anyway.
Ooh, empty book. That’s bad. Fortunately, there’s always Undo. And if that doesn’t work (because you’ve done other things and Undo is no longer available), you can always dig it out of the trash. More on that in a moment.
Dumpster diving time!
Alrighty, let’s have a look in the trash, shall we? (click to view larger)
A few things to notice in here:
- Photo A1 (managed) and Photo A2 (referenced) are both there, as expected.
- Photo B1 is not there. In fact, look at Album B1, which is what we actually deleted. Notice that the image count for Album B1 is now (0), yet if you scroll up and look at the earlier screenshot, it was clearly at (1) before deleting (and had Photo B1 in it). So the album was deleted, but not the photo in it. Why not? Because every photo actually lives in a project, and deleting an album of photos does not delete the photos themselves—just the album. Good to know!
In fact, if you click on the Album B1 in the trash, you will see this message:
So there you go… no question at all! Back to digging in the trash…
- Photo C1 is there as well. I didn’t hit Undo, so it’s still in the trash after deleting it earlier.
- Photo D1 - Version 2 is there, as expected.
- Notice that you can see the Project A and Project C in the trash, as well as the empty Album B1. You can look inside of those projects and see the same photos, which is great. The original structure you had is still intact.
So what happens if you’re digging through the trash, and you find a photo that you shouldn’t have deleted? Of course you can drag it out and put it where you like, but gosh, where does it belong? You may have forgotten, but Aperture has not. Right-click on a photo, and select Put Back. It’s that easy.
And get this… putting back the photo will also put back the enclosing Project (it has to go somewhere, right?)—and in this case, restoring our book!
Notice however that the photo has NOT been placed back into the cover of the book. You can’t have everything. (note: While putting this together, one time the photo actually did go back in place in the book… I guess it depends on what else you’ve done since it was deleted?)
Empty the trash, already
This is all well and good, but right now we’re not saving any space yet. Just like in the Finder, this Aperture trash has to be emptied to really get rid of the files. So, just right-click on the trash or choose the menu Aperture > Empty Aperture Trash… and you’ll get another dialog.
Notice the really interesting checkbox on the bottom there.
Move referenced files to System Trash
Recall, the Aperture trash has only three files in it now—Photo A1 (managed) and Photo A2 (referenced) and Photo D1 - Version 2 (which also is referenced; look at the curved arrow icon on the thumbnail in the screenshots above to verify). The master file (the original imported file, in this case a .CR2) for the managed photo will be moved to the System trash (i.e. the Finder trash) automatically, and if you only had managed photos in the Aperture trash, then the dialog above wouldn’t have the “Move referenced files…” option. However we have two referenced files in there as well, which live somewhere in the Finder.
Aperture isn’t going to move those files to the System trash unless you explicitly tell it to. Why not? Because Aperture has no idea if you’re using them somewhere else. They could be being referenced by any number of other applications, which Aperture couldn’t possibly be aware of. This is not a concern, or even a possibility, when you’re working managed. But in this case, that referenced file is out in the wild, and could be being used elsewhere.
Let’s go ahead and hit that Delete button then, and then have a look in the System trash.
There’s the two master files… Photo A1 (managed).CR2 and Photo A2 (referenced).CR2. Both in the System trash, giving you one more chance to recover these before they are permanently deleted. But where’s the Photo D1.CR2 file? It was not moved to the System trash—and why not? Because it’s still required by the Photo D1 that’s still in Project D. Perfect!
Wrap it up
Hopefully that covers all the possible situations for deleting files in Aperture 3. We deleted a referenced and a managed file, and both .CR2 files were correctly moved to the System trash… deleted an album and it smartly left the master file behind… deleted a project that oops! cleared a photo out of our book, but successfully put that back… and we deleted a version of a photo still in use, so the original .CR2 file was left behind.
And now, check out a video version of this tip…