Aperture 3 Tip - Shortcuts Etc.

Everyone knows that Aperture 3 has built-in customizable shortcut keys right? Well if you didn't take a little trip up to the Aperture menu and gander at what's under the Commands sub-menu. This is your best friend. I don't go nuts and rewire Aperture 3's brain from the ground up but I do add a few shortcuts that aren't there by default. Wait, there's more… Ever notice that when you hover over a button or use the menu that if a function has a shortcut key that it's displayed as part of the tooltip or right there in the menu? Well this works for shortcuts that you make in the keyboard customizer too. How cool is that?

Just another example of one of the thousands of little things that are just so right with the Aperture UI and when you get used to this level of refinement it's hard to use a clunky, ungainly, lumbering, hacked-up bridge look-alike kind of thing. Oh - no big deal you say about the shortcut labels – even the ones you make – showing up in the associated button/menu items. Well Adobe can't even seem to put all of the shortcuts that exist that they made consistenly in the menus for Lightroom. WTF? Oh but instead of fixing it ever you do get a handy-dandy built in cheat sheet that you can pop up and look through a sea of shit you don't want at the moment.

Enough of that. I'll use this opportunity to talk to you about multiple photo selections, menu items, one of my short-cut keys, and the logic of Aperture 3 instead. Let's say I select two photos and have them up in the viewer. Sort of like the screenshot at the top of the post. No matter how I managed to get there I can do anything to those photos. Mess with metadata, adjustments, export them, whatever.

A lot of new Aperture users are a little confused as to what might happen should you choose to do something while more than one photo is selected. Very simple rule here and all will be clear. If you use any menu item or shortcut key it will affect all selected images. If you use any of the HUD functions - like the adjustment hud it will only affect the primary selection. The primary will be the one with the fat white boarder around it vs the thinner white boarder. You can make any of the selected images the primary via the mouse. Simple right?

Okay now for some super advanced alien technology. The highly misunderstood primary only button. In the top screen shot it's down on the lower right. It's a rectangle with the number 1 in it. If you hover over it it will pop a tool tip labeling it primary only and if you happen to be using my customized shortcuts it will also show Opt-P. I use this all the time. Primary only does one tiny simple thing but saves tons of time. When it's turned on it makes menu items and keyboard shortcuts affect only the primary selection instead of all of the selected photos.

My typical use goes something like this:

Screenshot at the top looking at two similar images. One artsy-fartsy the other normal. Right now they both have a one star rating. I like both of them and want to flag them temporarily to include in a light table comp with a few other images that I haven't picked yet. I hit the "/" key and that results in the following…

See how it flagged both selected images? Now while I am here I do want to change the rating but only on the sharp one - not the blurry artsy one. I want to make the sharp one a two star. As you can see it's already the primary as indicated by the fat white border. I hit my handy dandy custom shortcut Opt-P and we're in primary only mode you can see that below as both images are still up but now only the primary has a white border at all.

While there I also hit the two key and you can see the result - it only affected the primary rating. Typically I will do my business to that primary of one or more things and hit my custom shortcut to go back to normal mode immediately.

This doesn't seem like all that big a deal and on it's own it's not but as you start to use and explore the way the UI works in Aperture 3 it's tons of little things like this that make it such a joy to work in and other things feel so caveman like – a blunt brutish instrument if you will.


Ps. I am not going to cover everything you can make a custom keyboard shortcut do. Tons and tons of stuff – like presets. Do yourself a favor and take an hour, explore the wonders of all the stuff in the customizer. It's crazy cool. Also just to be explicit – see what I did here. Instead of covering just one thing I tied it to how you might use it. A simple case but that is one of the huge things about the UI and design of Aperture. How various things work in concert with each other. There are tons of things that might cause you to wonder what the heck they are for. Alone they don't seem like much but wired together in all the different contexts you could have they are amazing. Very different from the "do this here" straitjacket approach of other apps.

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