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With the new Photos in macOS High Sierra, Apple

  • restored some of the former iPhoto/Aperture functionality (always-on sidebar, improved auto-organization [into moments, still no user-defined events structure], new editing tools, revamped filters, improved third-party integration, batch favorite and rotate)
  • and even added some new functionality (people sync over iCloud, over a dozen memory categories).

I've been stubbornly sticking to Aperture up until this point, mostly due to Photos poor selection of built-in editing tools, lack of batch editing (still true except for rotating as far as I know), cumbersome GPS tagging and its monolithic file structure (i.e. no referenced files in user-defined folder structure).

However, I noticed that Aperture is starting to fall behind in terms of performance, face recognition accuracy (and stability? Not a lot of experience with Photos.). Besides, the UI is beginning to feel a little... shall we say vintage?

That is what lead to rethink my position on sticking with Aperture. I'm currently considering moving all my files into Photos and just taking the hit in batch processing, file handling and editing capabilities. Before I make the move for good, however, I'd like to know if anyone has been in a similar situation and took a different path. If so for what reasons? What other software is there that can hold out as a standalone photo library and editing app?

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Photos

I know the point of the question is an alternative, but I've been through both transitions: first iPhoto to Aperture, then Aperture to Photos. I think there's a few points still to be made for using Photos.

always-on sidebar

I've always used the always-on sidebar instead of the toolbar since the very first version of Photos. Yes, the sidebar option was buried in the menus, but it was there and is much better than the toolbar. All that's happened in the most recent version is the removal of the (previously default) toolbar navigation and the activation of the existing sidebar option.

moments, still no user-defined events structure

This definitely was one of the things I worried about moving from Aperture to Photos. However, Albums works almost identically to Events, and I set up a smart folder looking for all photos not in an album as ‘Unorganised’ which lets me organise new photos into albums.

lack of batch editing (still true except for rotating)

  1. Make adjustments to a photo.
  2. Copy the photo adjustments using ⇧⌘C.
  3. Select as many photos as you wish to batch apply the adjustments and paste using ⇧⌘V.

cumbersome GPS tagging

Feel free to expand on this one, but this is how I go for photos without GPS:

  1. Select photos that need geolocation.
  2. Get Info (⌘I).
  3. Enter the location in the ‘Assign a Location’ field. The field accepts regular text search (uses Apple Maps) or latlong coords.

monolithic file structure (i.e. no referenced files in user-defined folder structure)

Storing photos in the library definitely isn't required. Photos has full support for references files. When importing files, deselect ‘Copy items to the Photos library’ (this preference is remembered for next time). For more information about using referenced media, see Change where Photos stores your files.

  • Thanks for correcting me on a few points and for pointing out Photos batch editing capability. As for "Storing photos in the library definitely isn't required. Photos has full support for references files.": Well, yes, but you do have to choose between either having them referenced or uploaded to iCloud Photo library and I think it would be cool to have both! Also, as far as I know, once you move a file inside the library, there's no way to get it back out (nothing like Aperture's "Relocate originals" feature). Is that correct? – Casimir Sep 30 '17 at 11:20
  • Do you know if it's possible to further edit photos in Photos that were imported with edits from Aperture? It seems to me as though I first have to revert photos to their original before I can start applying Photos edits. – Casimir Sep 30 '17 at 12:02

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