Ask Different is a question and answer site for power users of Apple hardware and software. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

I like the simplicity of iPhoto and all the nice ordering features. But, since I like to manage my library myself (folder names etc) I have not selected the option to import my photos to iPhotos' folder structure, but rather prefer to import my photos to iPhoto but keep them where they are (in my own folders).

One drawback to this, is that when I delete a photo from my iPhoto Library, it won't also delete the original file (even if I empty its trash), which makes iPhoto useless for managing my photos (for example, checking a new batch an deleting the ones I don't like). Has anyone managed to work around this stupid feature of iPhoto?

share|improve this question

migrated from Dec 17 '11 at 5:31

This question came from our site for professional, enthusiast and amateur photographers.

iPhoto has an internal file storage system where it saves all the photos for the events, albums etc.

You notice this, when you select an event and click "Show in folder". Then you see the whole folder with all the pictures in it.

You should treat events or albums as your folders. You can give them custom names and everything.

What I have done is:

  • Import all photos to iPhoto
  • Delete original files
  • Just work with iPhoto (when I want to see the photos in a folder structure, I can choose "Show in folder".

Note: I have heard that you can have an external file storage for your photos with Apperture. This is iPhoto with more functionality for 200 USD, in case you do a lot of work with iPhoto this might be interesting.

share|improve this answer
I believe it's the same with iPhoto, you can choose to import photos in their current directory but if you choose that option you can't delete the actual files from within iPhoto and I assume it's the same with Aperture. I'll try it out. – Dimitris Aug 3 '10 at 10:16

In iPhoto you're running a Referenced Library - where you store the originals in your own filing system and iPhoto refers to them in that location. In this scenario you've opted to take control of the file management suites, and just like you have to manually move the files to your chosen location for storage, you also have to move them away when you're finished with them.

While on the face of it Referenced Libraries seem attractive to some users, they offer no extra functionality and can be problematic if you migrate to a new system, or even want to move them to a new disk. You really want to think hard before running iPhoto in Referenced Mode.

Aperture has all the tools necessary to run Referenced Libraries, including the option to delete Masters stored elsewhere when trashing from the Library.

FWIW: A Managed Library, is the default setting, and iPhoto copies files into the iPhoto Library when Importing. The files are then stored in the Library package   For a fuller discussion of the implications of running a Referenced Library in iPhoto see

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.