Customizing the Aperture Interface
Aperture’s standard layout works just fine for most people, however there may be times when you’d like to tweak things a little bit for your own workflow. It could be that you want to hide panes to maximize screen real estate, or maybe the image you’re currently working on gets bigger when you move the Browser, or perhaps it just makes more sense to you to see Inspector on the right.
The most common and well-known UI (User Interface) customization would be the Browser / Split View / Viewer toggle. These three views, rotated through by simply tapping the V key, allow you to see just the Browser (thumbnails or list view), both the Browser and the Viewer in Split View, or just the Viewer. I say these are the most well known simply because there are buttons in the toolbar to flip through these, so chances are high you’ve figured this one out.
But there’s much more you can do.
Rotate and swap the Browser
There are four different places the Browser can live. On the bottom, the left, the top, or the right of the Viewer. There are two commands to control this; View > Browser > Swap Position (⌥W) and View > Browser > Rotate Position (⇧W). Through a combination of these, here are the four possible layouts:
You can resize the Browser by grabbing the bar between the Browser and the Viewer as well. Depending on which Browser view you are in (Filmstrip, Grid or List), the thumbnails will resize or you’ll see more photos at once.
Swap the Inspector
The Inspector, which is the pane normally on the left that houses the Library, Metadata and Adjustments tabs, can be moved from left to right by choosing View > Inspector > Swap Position (⇧I). This won’t free up any space but it may make more sense to you visually.
The Inspector can also be made larger by dragging the bar between the Inspector and the Viewer/Browser. In the Library tab, a bigger Inspector means you can see longer Project names before they are truncated. In the Metadata tab, you’ll get larger fields to type in, and in the Adjustments tab, you’ll have wider sliders, which could make fine-tuning an adjustment a little bit easier.
Hide the Toolbar
The Toolbar at the top of the UI can be hidden as well, from View > Hide/Show Toolbar (⇧T). This frees up about 200 vertical pixels.
Customize the Toolbar
There are two further customizations you can apply to the Toolbar. The first is that by right-clicking (control-click, two-finger tap) on the Toolbar, you can choose between Icon & Text, Icon Only or Text Only views.
More importantly though, you can completely customize what buttons are in the Toolbar. From the menu View > Customize Toolbar, or again by right-clicking and choosing Customize Toolbar…, you can open the sheet full of buttons to drag in and out of the toolbar. Not every command is here, and if you don’t see the one you want unfortunately you can’t create one, but there are quite a few buttons to choose from. Personally I use this for those commands that I don’t use often enough to ever remember the keyboard shortcuts to, but do use often enough that I don’t want to dig through the menus to find them. For me that largely means the Stacks controls.
If you want to go back to the default settings, you can drag the entire “default set” at the bottom of the pane back into place.
Hide it all
You can go as far as hiding nearly every element, resulting in a window that’s just a Viewer! I think by this point you may as well go to Full Screen mode, but it’s cool to see that the UI can actually be customized this much. And, given that in Lion Full Screen mode swipes in and out, which bugs some people, you may prefer this option. Plus, if you have two monitors, this gives you near full screen view without taking over your second display.
Change the Brightness
You can also change the brightness of the background behind the Viewer, the Browser and the Full Screen views. Go to Aperture > Preferences… > Appearance to locate these controls.
Each of the three views can go anywhere from 0% (black) to 100% (white). The middle-grey tones that are chosen are meant to be neutral, but you can certainly change it however you like.
The default positions are Viewer: 18%, Full Screen 0%, and Browser: 33%.
But wait, there’s more
Over the next couple of days we’ll look at Full Screen customization, as well as the various Multiple, Three Up, etc. views that Aperture offers.