I have a laptop with a 256Gb SSD that always seems to be full. A lot of my disk space is used by photos (in Aperture and iPhoto).

What I really want is to have low-res versions of all my photos on the SSD with high-res versions backed up to an external hard drive or Time Capsule. If I'm visiting family and someone spontaneously decides that they want to see Christmas from 4 years ago, I want to at least have low-res versions to show, even if I need to go home to my external hard drive for high-res versions. And I want it to sync, such that if I decide while I'm on the road that some photo is crap and delete it, that it deletes the high-res version when I plug back into my external hard drive.

This seems so logical to me that I'm constantly surprised that this problem doesn't seem to be solved. Aperture "vaults" appear to be just a backup copy of the entire library; they don't let you delete the high-res versions from your main computer.

Am I missing something? How do you keep photos from filling up the limited space on an SSD?

3 Answers 3


Depending on how your Aperture library is set up, I think it will do this automatically.

If you use a referenced library (see the Aperture manual for more information on managed vs referenced), Aperture won't store the hi-res masters in its own library - it will leave the file management up to you. It does, however, keep a low-res preview of the image in the library. So you could store your images on an external HDD, but still have access to the low-resolution previews when the HDD isn't available.

I haven't tried this myself, so I'm not sure how small the previews are, but I'm guessing they'd be good enough for the purpose you're describing.

  • You can set the previews to whatever resolution you like in preferences. Just keep in mind that Aperture plays very badly with storing referenced master files on a networked volume (eg. a Time Capsule or other NAS). If you intend to go this route, an attached USB/FW/TB drive is recommended.
    – kLy
    Commented Aug 1, 2012 at 12:41

The automatic synching would be complex, but using Automator to create a service which copies the originals to the stated destination (external volume, mounted share, whatevs), then resizes the original down, wouldn't be too hard. Then save that as a Finder service or as an application. You could also add in some nice contact sheet action if you wanted..

automator - copy

automator - scale


I'm not sure if this is the answer you are looking for. I work with Photoshop, and I'm not sure if Aperture has the same options, so stop me if I'm wrong but here is how I would do this.

You can create a automatic batch in Photoshop. Create 2 series of actions where you start with the original photos. The first action will store your original photos at your external hard-disk.
The second action will make a low-res copy of the images and store it in a folder at your choosing.

In this way, you'll have all the work done for you and just need to select the folders where you would like to store both the low-res and the high-res photos.

Again, I don't know for sure if Aperture has something similar.

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