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What Do You Want to See in Photos?

PhotoJoseph's picture
April 9, 2015 - 5:31pm

Now that Photos is officially shipping, we can all get our hands on it and see what is – and isn't – there. It's a powerful little app that has some great features for the everyman, but not for the pro. So let's NOT focus on the pro features that would make it an Aperture replacement. Apple knows there's about 1,000 things missing and they may or may not focus on those. We do know that Apple is making this, at least for now, for the everyman—not for the pro. So what features are missing at that consumer/prosumer level that you'd like to see?

Don't include things that are clearly pro-targeted, like tethering, or the insanely awesome and deep metadata search, or even open in editor (which might come but I think it's more likely to be hooked in via Extensions). We all know that Extensions will eventually allow a plug-in style architecture, so we can leave that off the list.

But little things, like reverse chronological order sorting, or UI that'd make it easier to find/understand what's happening. If you think of a feature you'd like, and you could see why your non-pro-photographer spouse might like it too, put it on the list. If you think of a feature and can only justify it for advanced/pro users, then let's leave that off for now.

In the comments… go!

Apple Photos for macOS

Easy one: 5 star ratings

That’s such an obvious fail by Apple, it’s not even funny anymore.

We do have 5 star ratings in iTunes since the beginning of iTunes and it does not get any more “consumer” than iTunes.

It’s such an obvious thing that I can only assume it was intentional. Why they made that decision is completely unknown to me, but I’m pretty dang sure that the design team didn’t just forget it.

If every iOS app would have such a “heart” feature instead of 5 stars, then at least Apple could come out and say “well, we just want to turn your Mac Pro into a gigantic iPhone, that’s why”.

But well, there’s that little app called iTunes, which does 5 stars since the first iPod with the mechnical wheel, you know….

You can use keywords to create star ratings. Just replace the imported “1 star” ratings with * (or if you prefer it nicer with a star symbol from the character palette, for which you can create a text shortcut). Then you create easy shortcuts for the star ratings and move them to the quick selection.

Smart idea! This would seem to work effectively the same, and I would also add that this can be done in batch by selecting multiple images before hitting cmd+i to apply the keyword star rating.

I’m sure some won’t be satisfied with this, but maybe they’ll work on implementing an official star rating feature eventually.

perplexing to see that iTunes, a consumer oriented app, has star ratings and filter search by ratings yet Photos app does not.. Apple really dropped the ball with this.

I agree with MikeA - star ratings, closely followed by colour ratings.

Ratings is surely not a prosumer feature.  It is a fundamental requirement for DAM of just about any photographer to be able to get to the app with a stack of newly shot pictures and be able sort the keepers from the rubbish!

How does Apple expect users to rate their photo’s in Photos without star ratings?


I’m wondering if color ratings was skipped because of color tags in OS X - basically, Apple not wanting to confuse people between the two. That would be my guess.

Star ratings is the biggest one, for sure. The other one I’d include is lift and stamp. I know this might fall under the “pro” tool category (since iPhoto never had it) but I honestly think it’s a tool that anyone could appreciate. Especially with the iPhone’s burst mode, there’s lots of times someone might want to quickly replicate an edit across a bunch of photos, and it’s the easiest thing in the world to implement, since it’s literally just copying and pasting slider settings.

I agree.. Lift Stamp tool (change the name if its too pro) would be a great way to edit multiple photos from a single shoot.. even for Consumers it would be beneficial.

Just look at the latest Snapseed 2.0 app released this week.. they have copy and insert options for all edits made to a photo and then granular editing options to remove settings in edit history.

Maybe after WWDC 2015, Snapseed for Mac will be released and hook into Photos app via extensions if ever Apple green flags that feature.

If I correctly understand what you guys are asking for, “lift and stamp” is included in Photos: While in Edit mode, in the menu bar, go to Image > Copy/Paste Adjustments (You’ll notice the keyboard command is exactly what it was in Aperture: Shft+Cmd+C or V — It’s the standard copy & paste commands plus Shift.)

Hope this helps!

Nice find! I hadn't seen that yet; very cool. Thanks!

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Thanks! this really helps..  One thing I wish we could do is select multiple photos and then apply/paste settings.. right now it seems to only work one photo at a time.

Agreed! Applying like adjustments to multiple photos simultaneously seems like a reasonable thing to ask for, especially considering the built in burst-shot iOS feature.

Geotagging. It is the one thing I love to add to my pics.

Being able to sort by more than just date. I like the options we have In Aperture and use them a lot. 



Star ratings and labels are absolutely essential. Can’t believe at least star ratings weren’t included in this first release. Closely followed by geotagging, which makes no sense to be missing given the geotagging is integral to the iPhone’s camera.

David Brewster

If your photos have geodata (i.e. were shot on an iPhone or a GPS enabled camera, or otherwise merged externally), you can see them on maps. As you pull back in the collections view (the back/forward arrow on the top left) whenever you see a location name, you can click that to view photos on a map. If you go all the way back to year view, you'll see a list of names next to a year, and clicking on that will show all those photos on the map. There does not however appear to be a way to see ALL your photos on a single map, which is certainly odd.

Here's my 2015 view:

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manually adding location tags is a must.. if I shoot on my DSLR and want to search a year from now where I was on said shoot, it would be essential.. Apple really needs to think about more than just the iPhone shooter… 

Also you can search by location. If you type “Paris” in the search window you’ll find geotagged photos shot there, photos with that keyword, caption, name, etc. and they will be separated by how they were found.

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Star Rating - a must. Keep the favourite as well, but stars are very important.

Color Lables - Good to have

Hierarchical Keyboarding - would be nice

Geotagging/Maps - Essential - Currently Photos does migrate all geotagging from Aperture. But unfortunately new photos there is no way you can add geolocation to them. I find that geotagging is specially helpful when performing search. 

Advanced Book template and layout - a must - Current book templates are in keep of what we had with iPhoto. Nowhere near the flexibility and customization available in Aperture.

With the above and extensions/plugins, this could be a useful program. 


Some basic organizational hierarchy would be a good start.  Second, information about the photos that’s visible or a way to make it visible.  I get the fact that it’s a minimalist GUI and if that was a design intention that minimized or disregarded the functional elements, then that is just plain dumb.  Any good design follows the model of “form follows function”.

There’s almost no DAM to speak of.  It’s just a pretty interface (arguably) with a minimal set of editing tools. 


Command-I or click the (i) button for info. It’s minimal but it’s there. For better DAM view show sidebar and you’ll have a similar view to Aperture/iPhoto.

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I have to do a lot of clicking and can only see individual photo information.  If it’s a label on all photos (as in Aperture), it’s far more useful.  Again, it seems that it was more important to have interface be clean than useful.  A solution would have been to give the individual the option of turning “the clean interface option” on or off.  Let the user decide how much info they want to see.  Flexibility in any program is important.  There isn’t just “one way”.

Let me say that I’ve been a long time lurker and benefactor to much of what you have built here and I do appreciate it.  Like many others here and elsewhere, I wanted (expected) so much more from Photos than what we got and it is profoundly frustrating to have to say goodbye to so many learned and evolved processes and familiarity with a tool we all loved (Aperture).  I’m conscious of the fact that I don’t want to sound like a ranting child in these threads, but it’s difficult because it’s unlikely that the stuff we are all missing is going to come back, so this is more like a therapy session for us all.  :-)

Thanks, Joseph, nonetheless for hosting and keeping the dialog going.


My pleasure :-)

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Like others - stars would be great for me, although keywording is available now it may be just a bit to cumbersom to apply on the fly. I would also like to see the addition of adjustment brushes - iPhoto had them and I’d like to see them come back.

Oh yeah - and open up the much vaunted raw extensibility of the software if they haven’t done so yet. If I remember the beta did not allow for extensions to the raw editing stream.

1) I’ve been using the Photos beta since day one. I was SURE that Apple would provide a way to SORT in the final release. When you open the library you see your oldest photo at the top, and the newest at the bottom. That means you need to SCROLL through ALL of your pictures to see the most recent one. I confirmed with Apple. FACT. You cannot sort by accessing/descending. Apple told me to just create some events and view smaller chunks of pictures instead of reviewing all pictures. SERIOUSLY? You can’t sort???

2) Edit toolbar. It’s permanently pinned to the right side of the screen.



That’s what I was afraid of….that there was no way to change the sort order, not even ascending/descending. Photos is useless to me if that’s the case. Absolutely useless. Yes. FAIL. Even their target market might want to have that choice. So that is something that Apple needs to be requested to fix ASAP.


I’m one of those casual shooters that Apple is supposedly aiming Photos at, and I’ve been very anxious and excted to finally try it, but It is so lacking even for me with my simple needs that it’s unusable. I’m just talking about organization too, not editing. I think I’d have been happy with the editing as I do like it in iOS, but I can’t stand the organization side compared to Aperture and iPhoto. I use Aperture on my iMac, and iPhoto (minimally) on my new MacBook Pro, and they are far better. I removed Photos and will continue to use Aperture and iPhoto until there are major improvements in folder/album organization and sort features in Photos. I was using the Sidebar view too. It doesn’t help. What a mess! It’s so disappointing to me as I really wanted to like it so I could have my photos across all Macs and iDevices in iCloud.  


I’ve read many arguments the past couple of days that because Photos is for free we should not be so critical of it and compare it with full priced software like Aperture etc.

These people seem to completely ignore the fact that Photos in its current state offers less than some of the most obscure photo freeware tools floating around for OS X or in the App Store.

I mean, the bar was really low on this one and they missed it nonetheless.

I’m still excited about the vision of what Apple is building here, and although it’s far from sufficient for me so far, I’m all for lobbying for the necessary features to make this huge step in the right direction a decent solution for even semi-professional purposes.

My two biggest asks for the immediate future are:

- Extensions support

- Easier keyboard-operation of adjustments.
(So far my biggest obstacle with using Photos effectively is that I have to hover over the number value of each adjustment slider for about a second—followed by a click—every single time I want to use arrow-key nudges or type a specific value in. I also can’t use the tab key to cycle to the next adjustment; that requires starting all over with the mouse hover.)

Neither of these, I think, are necessarily Pro features; extensions exist in iOS Photos, and keystroke adjusting would make any super basic user really happy as soon as someone showed them how.

I’m going to use the new Photo app only for the very few snapshot I take with the iPhone.

In addition to what has been asked, I’d like to see the option to share on iCloud only a subset of pictures like for instance a few selected albums.
It would be nice also to have the option to move the pictures to a referenced folder.

+1.. I would like to keep my photos on a dedicated external drive and have them referenced in if option is available, I have yet to find it.

I also agree that iCloud needs option to select just the albums I want to upload. to the cloud..

I realize it won’t be your ideal solution, but (without having tried this myself) I understand it is possible to maintain multiple Photos libraries (the same way we could with iPhoto and Aperture), but one specific library would be designated the “system” library, and only this system library can be connected to iCloud Photo Library. This could be a creative workaround for storing only certain photos in iCloud (and possibly storing other photos on external media).

Anyway, I agree that more granular control of what goes in iCloud would be fantastic; maybe next year’s update, alongside iOS 9 and OS X 10.11, as this would surely require another iCloud over-haul.

I just figured out how to reference photos from external drive and manage inside Photos:  You must go to Photos / Preferences / General – and uncheck “Copy items to the Photos library” in the import setting… hope this helps anyone else.

Helpful. Thanks

Local adjustments.

Brightening faces and darkening skies is probably something 80% of average Joe’s snaps would benefit from.  ;-)

In fact it was there already in iPhoto for iOS.

Doing this the Nik/Snapseed way with intelligent masks (U-Points) would probably be easier for beginners than old-style brushing, which can be tedious.

Apple should ask Google whether they will sell the suit. Don’t think Google is making much money from it these days. Then Apple finally would get access to a working noise reduction software too (NIK DFine), which is also something tiny phone camera sensors would benefit most.

I was thinking the same thing when Snapseed released 2.0 earlier.. Google are really not the company I think of when talking about photography suites.. they bought it merely for their Google + fiasco which never quite made a splash..

If Apple ever buys Nik, I would hope they use Nik as a great resource to beef up their photos solution.

I have not tried Photos yet but to me not having Geotagging is a major omission.

When in Faces, you can ignore a face by right-clicking and choosing “Ignore this face” or by selecting it and hitting delete on the keyboard. However you can only select one at a time. I have photos of crowds so literally hundreds of faces under “suggested” that I need to ignore. I want to drag-select or shift-click-select a range then ignore them all at once.

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Exyensions and batch-rename.

An option to select a photo in the grid view and add it to a face without having to view the photo full size.

(Reposting as a reply, after accidentally posting as a top-level comment.)

This option is in the Information pane, which you can open with the circled “i” symbol, or Cmd+i (make sure you’re viewing a single photo and not in Edit mode).

I wouldn’t mind more surface-level access to this feature (or the ability to queue up multiple photos for a Faces-adding session), but I found it more or less where I expected it.

UPDATE: I just discovered that you can also find a “Show Face Names” option in the View menu (menu bar), which basically gives you a batch Face-adding mode. “Check!” (We do still have to go into the Information pane to add unrecognized faces, however.)

I was thinking more in the lines of selecting multiple photos and then right click to add faces to selected photos in batch.. 

(Update: Oh, you’re right that I didn’t read your original comment carefully enough; you said without going full-size. Sorry about that, though maybe my reply will still help others find the option that is there.)

Agreed; just what I was getting at here: “(or the ability to queue up multiple photos…)”

This was on my wish list for Aperture.

Also on my wish list has been better “point-and-click” efficiency with the existing face/name-adding process. Tagging photos on Facebook is much quicker than in Aperture (or Photos), because they don’t make you frame up the face so carefully. On the other hand, this might make Apple’s face-recognition algorithm more accurate, by weeding out sloppiness.

5 star ratings;
geotagging and map features

I think Apple is really missing the point here: Photos is basically what I had with Picasa five years ago before buying my first Mac, just adding the cloud. The reasons I bought a mac were greatly designed hardware with awesome software. If they are not in the business of great software anymore, people can just as well run Lightroom on windows machines, with the exact same interface! Or Picasa, if they want Photos level software.

Exactly. I guess that is just what they have in mind. Too much hassle designing all that hardware and software. Why, when you can just sell a few million cellphones and watches and call it a day?

Ten years from now there won’t be any Mac anymore, mark my words. The same way we are now driven to Adobe and Phase One to do heavy lifting as serious photographers, we will be driven to Dell and Lenovo to do anything more with our images than snapshots on our cellphones and clicking on some filters before uploading them to some cloud.

Let’s hope you’re wrong!!

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“Ten years from now there won’t be any Mac anymore, mark my words.”

iDevices have actually driven OS X device sales … not diminished them. Something that would not have occurred in the absence of the iPod, iPad and iPhone.

While I can appreciate and share in your disappointment with Apple’s path of late, the sales statistics for Apple laptop and desktop units do not uphold your prediction. In fact, the opposite is true. While the numbers of phones and tablets sold is far greater than traditional computers, Apple has had seen a steady YOY growth in unit sales for the past 6-8 years. 

Apple is the only computer manufacturer that can claim that statistic because all the others are either in decline or are barely holding their own.

Where I do agree there is the preponderance of evidence that Apple seems to have considered it’s loyal Aperture users as a loss worth losing. Yet they spend so much effort on the video side with FCP X … I don’t understand the difference considering the resources they have available to really go after the advanced photo enthusiast/pro market. Which would also drive more hardware sales in the end.

Perplexing to say the least.

Apple might have ceased support for Aperture; which is a shame for a company who released a Mac Pro redesign and made spotlight interviews with Pro Photographers using Aperture on that device; but this will never make me go back to Windows.. there is just an efficiency and fluidity to using a Mac compared to a Windows PC and it all has to do with OSX.

Raw support built directly in the OS level is a big plus for an operating system.. it allows other app developers to tap into a great RAW decoding engine with their coding focus going into the app rather than writing their own decoding engine for RAW

If you look at some of the WWDC coverage on Core-Image advances, you can see that Apple has been busy working on great underlying technology for Photos (noise reduction, lens correction..etc.) that have yet to be implemented in full.. We are all still at Photos version 1.0.. Just give it some time to bloom.


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