Relocate originals in Aperture

I have a free disk space problem. The main cause are photos. My shared iPhoto / Aperture library is about 60GB, which is a lot of space on a Macbook Air.

This week a found a great (temporary) solution. I mainly use Aperture as my photo management program and it stores several versions of every photo.

  • Thumbnail: These are created on import and are used for the big overviews
  • Preview: Compressed but bigger thumbnails of imported and edited files. These are the versions used by OSX and other applications such as Mail, Keynote, slideshows, etc.
  • Original: The orignal as it was imported from the camera

The thumbnails and previews don’t take a lot of space, 1MB a picture at most, but the originals do. A RAW file is usually (way) over 30MB and JPEG’s straight from the SLR are still over 7MB. Luckily Aperture has a feature to offload the originals to another location such as an external drive.

Doing this is easy. You just select the images of which you want to relocate the originals and select “File” -> “Relocate Originals” (depending on your version it might be called “Relocate Masters”). Select the new source and optionally define a sub directory structure and you’re done.

The best thing is that, when you unplug the drive, you can still browse, share, rate and tag you’re entire library. When the originals can’t be found Aperture simply uses the Preview versions of the photos. The only thing you can’t do is edit photos.

It’s also great that you can relocate originals at any time. So after you’ve imported new photos you can relocate these to the external drive too. A good strategy would be to keep the most recent imports locally and export them a few weeks after sorting and editing them.

Since iPhoto and Aperture now can share libraries I assume this works in iPhoto too.

The only downside is that you now need to manually backup your masters.

The dream still is a photo library in the cloud of which all or parts can be easily shared across multiple devices. For now I have at least offloaded one of the biggest collection of files of my local disk.

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