6 Apple Photos tips you need to know

Almost every Mac user needs to learn a little more about how Photos works.

Apple’s image management and editing application, Photos, is an essential component of any Mac and iPhone owner’s digital life, but some of the things it can do are both hard to find and essential. I’m collecting Photos tips and queries at present, but here are five useful tips you may need.

[Recommended reading: "12 tips for better iPhone photographs"]


I’m sure you know Photos has a range of image editing tools. These let you adjust lights and exposure, apply filters and use Extensions (below). That’s great, but did you know you can save adjustments you have applied to one image for use in another?

It works like this: When you are pleased with the Edit in one image you should Save it, then reopen that image’s Edit dialog (or select the image and hit Return to open it in Edit view). Now in the Photos Menu bar select Image and look for Copy Adjustments, which will be an available command if you have applied any adjustments to that image. Select Copy Adjustments, click Done. Now you can open another image you wish to Edit and apply all the Adjustments you made in the previous one to this new picture by choosing Paste Adjustments in the Image Menu. This is a great way to consistently edit groups of shots.

Use Extensions

Have you started using Photos Extensions yet? You should do, as these third-party solutions add extra muscle to the capabilities of the Apple’s Photos app. You’ll find Extensions at the Mac App Store, and enable installed Extensions in Photos within System Preferences>Extensions>Photos. Once you’ve enabled an Extension its editing features are made available through the Extensions dialog at the bottom of the Photos editing tools window.

How to export Live Photos video

I’ve grown to love Live Photos, but find it a little frustrating that even though I know the clip exists, there seems to be no easy way to export it for use by other apps -- but it is possible:

  • Open Photos
  • Identify a Live Photos image (it should have the Live icon at the bottom left)
  • Select that image while depressing the Option key, drag-&-drop that image to your Desktop

Both the still image (.JPG) and video (.MOV) versions of the picture should be there for use. (Macworld). 

iCloud Photo Library

One thing that stops many Mac users enabling iCloud Photo Library is fear of ending up with duplicate or missing images. Apple does a poor job explaining that when you enable the cloud library on multiple Macs and iOS devices each with their own independent library, all that happens is the libraries are merged and the combined collection made available across all your devices. You may end up with some duplication and the process can devour bandwidth, so run the process when you’re not going to be online for a while.

Combine libraries

Perhaps you have multiple image libraries? Sadly, Photos only lets you open one collection at a time and doesn’t provide an easy way to merge collections, but it’s still possible using Terminal.

  • Open the image collection you want in Photos using the Options key to select the library you need.
  • Launch Terminal.
  • Type the following command and hold the Option key immediately after pressing Enter to execute it:

open –n –a Photos

  • A second Photos app will open, in which you can select a different image Library.
  • Now you can drag-&-drop images from one collection to the one in which you wish to consolidate your pictures.

The process may take time to complete. Do not copy images from one library to a copy of itself as this may corrupt your collection(s). (MacIssues).

Star ratings

Star ratings may be gone in Photos, but do you add metadata to your images? You should -- if you have imported images with star ratings from iPhoto into Photos you’ll find Apple has given each rated image a keyword like 2 star or 3 star (or even 5 star). Smart albums now looks for those keywords. This also means you can assign star ratings in this format to make sure your best images are gathered together. In a wider sense, you should add metadata to all your most important pictures, but for best results keep it simple, confining it to people, places and events, as this avoids you ending up with too many keywords to search through.

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Copyright © 2016 IDG Communications, Inc.

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