Aperture - Importing Your Images

Aperture_import.jpgSounds like a basic thing and it is. If you are using Aperture you know how to import images, hit the little down arrow import icon, choose import images… from the file menu, or use command-I. Pretty basic. I have received quite a few questions regarding importing so I thought I would share a couple of the finer points that can speed up your work-flow. Did you know that there are three different ways to import into Aperture that do three distinctly different things? I am not speaking of the three ways to invoke import images, or managed vs. referenced. I am talking about some of the other choices in the file->import menu.

Before moving on to  a couple of rarely used or discussed import features that could be a huge help I wanted to cover a couple of really basic things that work the same for all import options. The first one is that when importing images you can move the little arrow tab to point to any project you would like. This obviously imports the images in the import pane into an existing project. You can also point the arrow tab at "Library" and aperture will automatically create a new project for the imported images. Most beginning users know this, what you may not know is that if you point the arrow tab of the import window at a blue folder Aperture will create a new project inside that blue folder prior to import. Not a big thing but every little bit helps.

Onto the two more obscure import methods that I mentioned. Thsee two are not really hidden but I question the user interface choices that apple decided on. Once you see them they become obvious, before you know they are there you can't really see them. At least you cannot see both at the same time. I'll start with the import method that most of you have probably stumbled across at some time or another. If you happen to have an existing project selected in the inspector and go to the File->Import menu you will see that you have a choice called "Folders into a project…". This is actually pretty useful not on existing projects in the sense of a project you already imported and worked on but empty projects that you happen to create immediately before invoking it. Here is what it looks like,


I have pointed the dialog at a folder called models that has subfolders for a bunch of people that I shoot here and there. You can also see that there are some basic options to actually bring the masters into the library (managed), move them somewhere else (referenced), or leave the where they are (referenced). What you can't see is that I created a new project in the inspector called "Models" that I am clicked on. If I click import at this point I end up with in my project a yellow folder named "Models" containg one album for each folder inside the parent folder. Each album is named the same as the folder and you guessed it - contains all of the images in that folder. Pretty cool. If you just want the albums and not that yellow folder just  drill down a level and select all of the folders that you want as albums. In other words Aperture automatically creates a yellow folder/album hierarchy inside your target project mirroring the folder structure that you have on your disk. Pretty convienient for those of you hat have a ton of images already organized on your file system or for those of you that interact with people that do.


Okay I saved the best for last, even experienced Aperture users may find this one a news item - maybe not. If you select the library or a blue folder in the inspector instead of an existing project the File->Import menu selection changes from "Folders into a project…" to "Folders as projects…". You have probably already guessed this option does the same thing but instead of creating yellow folders with albums inside, it creates projects for each folder that you are pointing at. For demonstration purposes I created a new blue folder called "Model Tests" clicked on it and choose File->Import->Folders as projects. Navigated to the same folders on my disk as the last example Then clicked import in the resulting dialog. Here is what happens.


Hey, what the heck I ended up with the same thing as before, a new project inside the blue folder with a bunch of albums named the same as the folders under Models. Here is what you want to do if what you wanted was to have all of the sub-folders turned into their own projects. When you get to the level of the folder hierarchy that you want to turn into projects inside Aperture actually select the folders that should become a project in the dialog like this.


There we go now all of those folders are actually projects, the only rub is that Aperture creates an album inside of each one of those projects that is called "Images from XXXXX" where XXXXX is the name of the folder. Personally I don't get why Apple poeople decided to do that but it really is a non-issue as you can delete the seemingly purposeless album if you desire. As you know it won't get rid of the images inside it. Some of the sharper tools in the shed may have just thought "hey I can use this as a shortcut for the folders as albums thing, I don't even have to create the project first". Anyway here is what the end result looks like.


Wondering what happens if there are sub-sub-folders or sub-sub-sub folders? You can probably guess what happens, yellow folders and albums. Try it for yourself, it's easy enough to figure out. Just one tip. Make it go quicker if you are fooling around with experiments by choosing to leave images where they are (referenced) and if you don't like what happend just delete the project/projects and make sure "move referenced images to trash" is not checked. If you want to make the project a managed project when you are done fooling around just click on the project (or blue folder) select all of the images and choose File->consolidate masters. Another item of note is that this works in reverse if you want to take an aperture folder-project structure and replicate it on disk. To do this use File->relocate masters and fiddle with the options. More on that another day.


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