You are here

iMedia Browser for Multiple Aperture (and iPhoto) Libraries

PhotoJoseph's picture
January 18, 2012 - 8:28pm

If your workflow includes multiple Libraries, you know how tedious it can be to switch Libraries just to access an image or two—especially if you’re not sure where they are!

I wrote about this app once years ago on my photo blog, before I even launched this site, but a user question just made me think of it again and I realized a lot of you may not be aware of it.

The app is called iMedia Browser, and is free on the Mac App Store. You do need to enable “Share previews with iLife and iWork” for each Library if you haven’t already. But once that’s done, you should see all of your Aperture and iPhoto Libraries at once in this little app. You can even search through the collections! Just keep in mind you will ONLY see images that you have previews generated for, so if you’re rendering selected previews selectively, you won’t see all of your photos here.

Download iMedia Browser from the Mac App Store for free

Apple Aperture

1) Why would you use both Aperture and iPhoto?

2) Why bother with more than one library?

Neither seem remotely efficient ways to work to me.

Marcus - lots of good reasons why for both of these. I use Aperture for the majority of my work, but I keep photos from my iPhone in iPhoto, as well as photos I get from other people for some work.

Everyone has their own unique way of working, but I use multiple libraries for a couple reasons. First, each client has their own library - that way they only see photos I’ve shot for them. So it can be used as a privacy measure. I also use them to break up segments of my work - motorsports has it’s own library, football, tennis, etc. Some of my libraries, like my one for Glacier National Park, has over 20,000 photos in it, and a lot of folders and albums. Keeping all of my stuff together creates more of a mess and takes longer to find what I need. Not to mention, especially in the past, large libraries tend to slow Aperture down. Not sure that’s the case anymore, but I just prefer to work with lots of Libraries to help keep things clean.

Thank you for telling us about this app, Joseph. I use iPhoto and Aperture and also have multiple libraries in A3. This will be very useful to me even though it meant I had to create previews for many photos I hadn’t yet. I think it’ll be worth the extra hd space the previews will use to see all my photos in one app.

One thing they really need to do though is update their icon. It’s very low quality and pixellated!


Marcus, great question… Rob, great answer! :)

Debbie; I just downloaded the latest version from the App Store and this is what the icon looks like in the dock and in Launchpad… [screenshot] — although I suppose you could be talking about the icon in the menu bar [screenshot]? In which case, yeah, it could use a refresh ;-)

— Have you signed up for the mailing list?

I’m talking about Launchpad and the Dock. Yours looks way sharper than mine. Mine is very blurred! Hmmm… strange.


A quick question - does this software let you browse photos in an Aperture Library in a Time Machine backup? It struck me that would be an incredibly useful feature because, it seems, there is no way to access a single file through Time Machine from a particular date without restoring the whole library? (Unlike iPhone which provides this feature).


I seriously doubt it, but you’d have to ask the developer.

Also I assume you meant iPhoto, not iPhone ;-) Yes, that’s a nice feature, and no, Aperture doesn’t do that. Shame.

— Have you signed up for the mailing list?

After having activated “Share previews with iLife and iWork” I see the project icon and name of the library I had opened in Aperture’s last session. However, I do not see any images.
The library is on Mac HD in the home/images folder, the images (all referenced) are on an external HD connected via Firewire. May that external HD be the problem?

Note: I see the very few images of the iPhoto libraries I had created before I worked with Aperture.

Thanks in advance for your ideas and proposals.


If sharing is on and you’re seeing the icon for that Library, then the problem is that no previews have been generated. You probably have preview generation disabled by default.

You can generate previews for ALL files, do it by project, or do it individually. Check out the article linked below to learn more, and if you still have any questions, please post them in the forum:

A Comprehensive Look at Thumbnails, Previews, and More in Aperture 3

— Have you signed up for the mailing list?

Thanks, Joseph for the pointer.
Yes, being a bit close-fisted with regard to HD space and following your article “Reducing Library Size—Dramatically” I indeed turned off “New projects automatically generate previews”.

My hope has been that “Use embedded JPEG from camera when possible” would also do the trick. And: I actually see some kind of previews in Aperture even if the external HD is disconnected!

I have now turned on preview generation for one exemplary project and - tataa - the images are displayed also in iMedia Browser. However, watching at the library file size it increased by a factor of 3.66! (just 123 images in total, preview size limited to halfsize).
It seems one can not have both - lean libraries and a quick overview on various libraries using iMedia Browser. Or did I miss any other option?


Nope you’ve got it figured out. Those “previews” you see in Aperture are huge thumbnails. 1024 in fact. The embedded JPG preview is only ever used once, on import, to draw to screen as quickly as possible. As soon as Aperture decodes the RAW file and draws a thumbnail that preview is ignored.

— Have you signed up for the mailing list?


I have just installed the iMedia Browser (on Mavericks) and it works with all my Aperture and iPhoto libraries. However, I can not drag and drop images to any app.

Anyone having the same problem?


You may login with either your assigned username or your e-mail address.
Passwords are case-sensitive - Forgot your password?