Exporting From iPhoto For Backup Or Aperture Or LightRoom

When I first got my Mac, I was blown away by the ease-of-use of the iLife suite of apps, especially iPhoto. iPhoto makes it easy to capture your photos from your camera, organize them, and edit them for sharing with the world. But, as my skill with photography and editing has elevated, I’ve found iPhoto to be too limiting. After evaluating a couple of solutions and decided that Adobe’s LightRoom is the next step for me. However, there is a catch – I have all my photos in iPhoto, which stores my photos in a proprietary database, making it a challenge to use my photos elsewhere. Read how I addressed this after the break.

If you dig enough on Google, you can figure out how to open the database to backup/export your photos. I’ve tried several methods that I found online, but they were all just too cumbersome – or if the method was easy, it did not give me the level of photo organization that I wanted.

After some experimentation, I found a method that works really well. My method accomplishes two things:

  1. Exports my original photo files, whether they be RAW or JPEG files.
  2. Exports my photos by events, which is how I organized them in iPhoto, and which is exactly how I want them organized.

There is one problem with my method: any edits I made are lost. If I’ve color corrected, or cropped, etc., those changes are gone. However, I’ve already shared the photos in their edited state on other services, like facebook, twitter, flickr, etc. Furthermore, any time I want to share my photos, I always re-edit them for the occasion anyway. So this is not a big problem to me.

So, here’s my method:

1 – Choose the events to export. Open iPhoto, select the “Events” button from the left-hand navigation pane. Hold down the “Command” key, and click on each event you’d like to export.


2 – Export the photos. From iPhoto’s menu bar, navigate to >File >>Export.


Once you click “Export” you’ll be presented with an export dialog box. Choose “Original” for the “Kind” field. Then, choose “Event Name” in the “Subfolder Format” field. These options will save your files, in their original format, and sort them into subfolders according to your event names.


3 – Choose your destination. After hitting “Export” on the dialog box, you get to choose where to store your files. I chose to store mine under a folder called “From_iPhoto” on my network-attached archive drive. You can see some of the events I already exported. Note that it takes a long time to do this, so I’ve decided to break-up the task by exporting only 6 at a time, just in case a problem arises (like a “file is in use” error).


Once you select your destination folder, hit the “OK” button, which sends you back to the dialog box. Hit “Export” and your export will begin!


5 – Clean-out iPhoto. To reclaim the hard-drive space that you no longer need for iPhoto, just delete all the events, and then empty iPhoto’s trash-bin, which simply sends everything to your Mac’s trash-bin. To truly liberate the space, empty your Mac’s trash-bin too.

That’s it! Real easy! Now, all my photos are exported onto an archive drive, which I can easily access from Aperture or LightRoom.


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