This isn’t a review of Photos, just a run through of the installation, in order to highlight the main differences, and anything you might what to consider before migrating your existing iPhoto Library over to Photos. There’s a couple of things worth considering before making the switch so, it’s worth having a scan through this article prior to going ahead.
So, without further ado, let’s just take the plunge, do the update, see what happens, and see what considerations arise:
The Mac OS X 10.10.3 update includes Photos.
The OS X Update 10.10.3, which weighs in at 1.52GB, includes the new Photos app, so Photos isn’t a separate, optional download. Installing the update won’t remove iPhoto, nor will it automatically delete or convert your existing iPhoto libraries – you’ll be prompted about that later.
If you haven’t installed the OS X 10.10.3 update already, you can do so by going to the Apple Menu -> App Store -> Updates.
Launching Photos for the first time.
Photos launches with a Welcome screen, telling us “Photos is built for the way you take, organise, and enjoy your photos today.” It offers a “quick tour” which highlights the main features. The bullet points are:
- Photos are organised by when and where you took them
- The view, is like that on the iPhone and iPad (the default Photos view is arranged around Years, Collections, and Moments .
- Browse photos with familiar Gestures (similar to iOS gestures, I’d imagine).
- Easy editing for non-pros
- iCloud Photo Library (this is the big one!, I think): “Take or edit a photo, and see the changes on all your devices”.
- iCloud Photo Sharing
Updating your iPhoto Library to Photos library.
After clicking “Get Started”, I’m asked to either chose an existing iPhoto library, find another library, or create a new library.
Photos will first need to convert an iPhoto library in order to open it. But instead of overwriting the old iPhoto library, it moves the contents to the new Photos library. So you won’t need extra storage to accommodate the new Photos Library. You’ll still be able to use the old iPhoto library should you wish, as it will contain references to the originals (now located in the new Photos Library). Once you’re content with Photos, you can go ahead and trash the old iPhoto library.
iCloud Photo Library.
I’m now given the opportunity to use iCloud Photo Library. The description is:
“With iCloud Photo Library, you can store your entire collection of photos and videos in iCloud and access them from your Mac, iPhone, and iPad, or any web browser on iCloud.com. Photos and videos you take with your iPhone or iPad automatically appear in Photos on all your devices. And all your albums, edits, and favourites are kept up to date everywhere.
Having access to all our photos, across all devices has, to date, been a bit too complicated and convoluted.
Why iCloud Photo Library makes life easier.
- Never worry about syncing, and getting photos and videos from one device to another. As long as you’re logged into iCloud with the same Apple ID, and have iCloud Photo Library switched on, across all your devices, all your photos and videos will find there way to iCloud Photo Library, and all your devices will either keep a complete, synchronised copy of that library, or will at least have access to the entire library (internet connection required).
- The concern of storage space on a given device (another common problem…) will be a thing of the past because, with the ‘Optimise Storage’ feature (see the section entitled Save Space on your Device, here), once you begin to run out of space, Photos will only store some full resolution images and videos, and will leave the rest on iCloud, allowing you complete access ‘on-demand’.
- Once any new photos have been uploaded to your iCloud Photo Library, backing them up isn’t such a concern (although Apple do recommend keeping a local / offline copy).
What’s not to like about iCloud Photo Library?
But not everyone will like the idea of iCloud Photo Library, because:
- If you don’t have enough space to store the entire library on, say, an external hard drive, you’re reliant on an internet connection for full access
- Some may be uncomfortable with storing private photos on the internet
- Being tied in to a subscription based service
Signing up to iCloud Photo Library.
iCloud Photo Library counts towards your iCloud space, so you’re given the option to “Choose a New Plan” that will be large enough to host your Photos library. The UK prices are as follows:
- 50GB is £0.79 a month
- 200GB is £2.99 a month
- 1TB is £6.99 a month
You can always choose to set this up at a later time, you don’t have to dive right in.
Personally, my iPhoto / Photos library is full of useless rubbish that I don’t have any desire to keep. So, prior to singing up, it might be a good idea to archive, or delete the old, space consuming, worthless photos or videos, in order to prune the size of your Library. This will save on the time it takes to upload (which can take a very, very long time! Weeks, in fact. But be patient, and just leave your computer / device on at night), as well as possibly reducing the subscription cost.
Actually, this is probably best carried out in iPhoto, prior to opening Photos for the first time. Because, with a tool like iPhoto Library Manager, you can easily archive Events, Albums, and so on, to a new, separate iPhoto Library. (The developers of iPhoto Library Manager now have a similar tool for Photos, called PowerPhotos.).
Multiple Photos Libraries?
Not wanting to have my entire photo library stored in the cloud got me thinking about whether iPhoto’s ability to create, and switch between multiple libraries has carried over to Photos. Well, thankfully, it does. Holding down the Alt / Option key when launching Photos gives us the opportunity to choose between different Libraries, or create a new one. The active, or default library is now indicated as “System Photo Library”, which also indicates the library that is used for iCloud Photo Library.
Finally, a little look in the Photos->Preferences window gives us a little insight as to how to deal with any future issues.
Right, now i need to use Photos, and see how it performs. If you have any niggles about Apple’s new Photos app, or iCloud Library, please do let us know in the comments!