I had two major impressions when I started using iPhoto:
- The tools and interface are awesome, just like the publicity says.
- The way iPhoto stores photos is not as straightforward as I had hoped.
I was initially planning on organizing all my family photos with iPhoto. My photo collection was very roughly organized in folders on my PC and I wanted a way to tidy them up. I figured I could import them into iPhoto and get them sorted once and for all.
Unfortunately it wasn't to be.
I copied my files with the original folder structure to the Mac, then imported them into an iPhoto library. I quickly realised that iPhoto doesn't deal with the original files, it creates complete copies of them in the library. That's not what I wanted but perhaps I could live with it.
- You can avoid making complete copies by going to iPhoto Menu > Preferences > Advanced and unchecking Copy Files to the Photo Library. This has problems of its own though and doesn't offer full control.
- To find your files outside of iPhoto you need to view the contents of the iPhoto Library package and look inside the Data folder. There are also backup copies of any edited files in the Originals folder.
Then I started trying to rename and reorganize photos. More bad news — when you organize files it doesn't actually affect the files themselves, just the reference to them in iPhoto's database. You can move a bunch of photos to a different event but the actual files are still in the original folders. This became more of a problem when I accidentally imported a folder called 2007 into my 2002 folder. There was no way to physically move it to the right place so it was stuck there.
Likewise you can't rename files. Although you can change the title so it appears to be renamed in iPhoto, the file names are unchanged. This is useless when trying to tidy up file names such as DSCF0001.JPG, DSCF0002.JPG, etc.
Why is this such a problem? If I only ever viewed my photos in iPhoto it wouldn't really matter how the physical files are named or organized as long as iPhoto displays them how I like. But if I want to access the photos from outside iPhoto (which I frequently do) it's hopeless. My photo collection is most often viewed on a Windows Media Center PC in the lounge. iPhoto can't help me organize my albums in any way that would be recognized by the PC.
iPhoto looks like a great application but it doesn't work for me, at least not at this stage. I will probably go back to Adobe Bridge, organize my photos properly there, and then try again.