Aperture 3 Library Basics

Posted by in Aperture, Aperture Tips, Photo Editing

As one might expect, Aperture’s 3 library structure is a little different from Aperture 2. In my opinion, it’s easier to get your head around it in version 3 than it was in version 2.  Aperture 3 basic organization units consist of Libraries, Folders, Projects and Albums. What makes Aperture 3 different from 2 is you can put folders within or outside of projects. This allows setup of our Aperture library the way we want to instead of the way that Apple thinks we should.

A Library is the the name of the package that contains all your photos and its organization. Libraries are what you see in OS X’s finder. Here’s a tip, if you double click on the library in finder, Aperture will open with that library for you.  A Project contains all your photos, this is the container that you import your photos into.  Folders are containers for Projects and for Albums, Albums are containers for photo shortcuts, not the photos themselves just shortcuts to the photos.  Albums allow you to group photos from multiple projects or a single project together, you can also place a photo in more than one Album.

Folder, Projects, and Albums are all manually created and controlled by you. Smart Albums are Albums that are automatically populated by filtering data in your project or the entire Library.  For example a Smart Album can be created of all the photos in a project that contain one or more stars. But wait, there’s more! You can create Smart Albums that contain multiple filters. For example you can have a Smart Album that contains images that is one star or greater, have water as a keyword, and/or were taken in 2009.

I have decided to organize my photos in the following manner.  I have libraries for different subjects such as Sports, Glamor, Architecture and Great Adventures. In the Library I created Folders for each year. Project are created within those folders, I name the projects starting with the date then the event name for example 2010-02-23 Beer Fest. I then create a Smart Album for all the images that are 1 star or greater to show me only rated photos or keepers.

Here is a little secret about Aperture 3 libraries, its hard to screw it up if you use a managed library. Behind the scenes Aperture 3 stores its files by date, not by project.  Projects are just containers in the database to store for you to store your files, so you can always rearrange your files how ever you want in your library. If you make a mistake you can fix it without too much pain.  That is the reason I decided to use managed libraries, I want Aperture 3 to manage my files for me.

Hopefully this post will clear up some things and get you started on the right foot.

Bill Debevc