Sorting out iPhoto


Just wondering if anybody has any tips on sorting out an iPhoto library.

I have iPhoto '08, and over the years I have not only accumulated loads of photos but also loads of duplicates. With many photos I export them at a reduced size and then send them to our families (pictures of the kids etc). At some point during backing up, upgrading, making sure that I don’t lose anything etc, I seem to have imported into the library all of the smaller sized duplicates of images. This means that I have, for instance, about 7 copies of every photo I took in Africa five years ago and about 5 copies of every photo I took in Greece a few years back. In each case, one set of copies is the full resolution set, and the others are reduced resolution sets.

Right now, I want to go through and prune everything so that I just have one copy of every photo and delete all of the reduced quality copies (or same quality copies). Is there an easy way of doing this. For instance: is there a way to sort images in iPhoto by file size or dimensions? (I don’t think there is…) Is there any way of it finding duplicates? Are there any third-party utilities that can help. It is going to take me bloomin’ ages to do this manually…

Thanks and all the best,

You could try iPhoto Diet, but I hear it has problems running on iPhoto 7 right now.

Or there’s Duplicate Annihilator. It’s not free, but it’s cheap - something like $8 USD I believe.


I don’t own iPhoto08 so my apologies if my solution is more complicated than needed.

Give TidyUp! a whirl
It is a very customizable duplicate finder, fully Leopard compatible (I am on Tiger, but that’s what they claim). The creator of the software is very responsive and the demo let’s you do a full scan, but there is a limitation as to the number of files you are allowed to delete in one go.
You may be glad to hear that TidyUp not only deletes your iPhoto dupes but also notifies iPhoto of this.


I can’t speak to any third-party solutions, but couldn’t smart albums help you out, here? Like, set an album to only find pics of certain dimensions, or below a certain filesize, that sort of thing?

I use iPhoto, but not extensively, so I might be overestimating what you can define in a smart album. Seems like it should be possible, though…

Smart folders in iPhoto 8, unfortunately, do not take into account dimensions of pictures. They do have other options, which might help. One I’ve just tried, as I have a similar problem, is setting “camera model” to unknown. All my pictures are made with the same camera, so those unknowns may be the duplicates created by a malfunction somewhere. And it turns out that this did create a folder with all kinds of pictures that gave me an exclamation-mark when I double-clicked it.

There may be another problem with smart-folders, however. I haven’t tested this. In iTunes, I cannot delete songs that are in smart-folders. A work-around is adding a tag or similar and then going to the main library and deleting it there.

Another, more inconvenient option, may be to open the package-contents of your photo and import them into another picture-manager that perhaps has more options in regards to finding duplicates. And then re-importing them to iPhoto.

Well, in the end I spent two pretty-much-solid days sorting through my iPhoto library manually. I just sorted everything by date, as the duplicates mostly had the same date as the originals, though not always. Then I went through and deleted… And deleted… And deleted. The number of photos went down from 12,000 to 4,000 by the time I had finished. And then, just for the sake of completion, I went through and altered the dates of the photographs so that they more or less matched the date on which they wer taken (I’m a sucker for not bothering to set my camera date, so I’d got photos supposedly taken in 2025 etc - from now on, I’m setting my camera date). And I moved everything into events. And added keywords. And created smart folders based on the keywords. And so on.

It was incredibly painful, but I saved myself a few gigs of hard drive space and now I have an iPhoto library where I can find what I want straight away and which has my life and that of my family pretty much in order. It feels geekily good. :slight_smile:


This is not a solution to the problem, but I avoid using iPhoto, and rely on Canon’s own software (ImageBrowser). I guess Nikon has something similar, and I could download pictures from my Sony videocamera, and from my brother’s photocamera from a different brand, by using the same software. I only used iPhoto to create a couple albums, something in which it really shines.

I love the idea of an hub for all photo-related tasks, but I feel iPhoto really annoying in trying to take control over the way one wants to catalogue his photos. ImageBrowser is just a a viewer interfacing with the Finder, and that’s exactly what I need.


Actually, you can. When viewing a playlist (as opposed to the Library), Delete of course just removes the track from the playlist, which is in turn impossible by definition in a smart playlist; so instead, use Alt-Delete to actually delete a song file.

I know this is FAR from the cheapest option available, but have you considered using Aperture? From the sounds of it, it may suit your needs better than iPhoto. When I first came across it, I thought it was Apple’s answer to Photoshop but then I found out it was actually more like a rediculously souped-up version of iPhoto.

I’m a photography student and I found iPhoto was fine for the occasional photo-taking but then when it got to the point where I was shooting a few hundered a month (or sometimes the same number in a week or a day), it started buckling under the pressure, so I made the leap to Aperture.

I now can’t imagine going back - in terms of organising photos, Aperture is brilliant and is ALOT more space efficient (instead of having full-res duplicates when you make an edit, it has a string of information and a medium res preview [and you can store the original “master image” wherever you like]).

Also the search features in Aperture are much more powerful than iPhoto, so hunting down duplicates is much easier.

Another good thing, is that you can import you iPhoto library, as it is, straight into Aperture.

I must sound like an advert.

Let me know your thoughts - if you have any questions I’d be happy to help.

Automator - Find Photos by width or height, set workflow to move them or delete them.

Free part of OSX

Graphic Converter is the way to go. I had the same problem with my old iPhoto library, but GC compares photos, you can delete them automatically or, if you want to take extra-care, compare them in a handy browser. I worked through thousands of photos in less than an hour, now they are stored in an Aperture library. iPhoto – never again.


I tried the demo of Aperture, but it simply didn’t agree with me. I opted for LightRoom, which does fit my way of working. I know many professional photographers still have problems with it – they seem to be mostly those on PCs, particularly running Vista – but then I believe they do with Aperture too. I have got to pluck up courage to move my plethora of photos from the last 7 years into Lightroom and sort out extra duplicates, thumbnails, ones that should have been returned to sender immediately I took them; some are in iPhoto libraries of various flavours, some are just on old Zip disks (I hope), some on CDs …

And for editing, I’ve become a total fan of LightZone … I still have PhotoShop CS in case I ever need any of its more esoteric features. But LightZone I find much more intuitive and quicker, the only thing I miss being the “Healing Brush”, but I don’t need that often.


A lot of people say this - if you Google “aperture vs. lightroom” you’ll find a lot of people reviewing the two in comparison and what a lot of people say is that Lightroom and Aperture have edges over eachother in different areas, but that overall they’re both pretty good.

The reason why most people tend to opt for one or the other is that Lightroom offers a modular approach (Import, Manage, Develop, Present), whereas with Aperture, it’s almost completely freeform. Those who like the structured workflow, they’ll prefer Lightroom, those who like jumping around the workflow, ignoring it entirely (like me), will prefer Aperture.

Read some of those reviews (this site has a few different views on this subject) and download the demos and see what you think.


congrats for buying Lightroom! With Aperture I meant “anything is better than iPhoto”. I bought Aperture when Lightroom was in beta, liked Lightroom slightly better, but decided for Aperture for reason of taste.

What kept me from Lightroom were these unbelievably tasteless decorations under the panels and the giant Lightroom logo on top. I just cannot stand this commercial attitude when I want to concentrate on my work. When I paid for their software, they shouldn’t annoy me with advertisements.

My question to you as a Lightroom user: Is there a way to get rid of the logo and the curly “decoration”?

That would make a change easier,

Hello Maria,
I have to admit things like that don’t annoy me, so I haven’t even bothered to think about it. In fact, I’ve been so little aware of anything like that that I’ve just opened it to have a look … and the straight answer is “Probably not”, as I guess it’s built into the GUI.

The “Adobe Lightroom” logo is actually pretty small in v. 1.1.3, and it’s also in a very muted grey so hardly shows against the black background as far as I’m concerned. As for the curlicues, they are only at the bottom of the two panes of palettes, and as I always have various editing palettes open, and my list of folders and collections has grown to the point that it’s so long since I’d seen them that I’d forgotten their existence.

But, as I say, my concentration is always on what I’m doing and not on the visual aspect of interface elements … I turn off toolbars almost all the time, and am much bemused by pages and pages of postings, for instance in the OmniWeb forum, as to whether the new icons are suitably “Leopard” appropriate or are retrogressive … And the only apps I have skinned are Opera to the most minimal skin I can find and Adium in the same way.

But if you are looking at an alternative for Aperture, you might like to take a look at LightZone, as it comes in two versions … one with asset management and the “Basic” version which only has the editing side. I have the latter (v. 3.4) as I already had LightRoom and didn’t need the asset management.

I had been testing both LZ and LR. Version 2 of LZ didn’t have asset management and it was very slow, so although I really liked it, I didn’t get it. I was also still on 10.4 so PhotoShop CS1 would run and I didn’t need it. When Adobe gave a good offer for LR pre-release, I went for that. If I was starting again, I’d take a good look at the asset-managed version of LZ too, but currently I’ve no idea as to what it’s like. LZ has the name of the app in the top right corner in a much more noticeable Orange, but it doesn’t bug me …

The Basic version of LZ doesn’t have slide-shows and web page creation built in … but it does have soft-proofing, which is one of the biggest gripes the professionals seem to have with LR, now that people have worked out what’s been going on with printing to Epson printers and the work-around. I haven’t tried printing from either yet. On the other hand it has “tabs” down the left and right margins; presumably that is provision for the inclusion of other modules, so maybe the asset-managed version has slide-show and web-page capabilities or the company is still in the process of developing them for future versions.

I have LZ set as my “External Editor” for LightRoom. They seem to work together well.



Thanks for all these details. I will definitely have another look at LZ with asset management, because I liked the earlier version very much. And I will have another look at LR,


My pleasure … hope you find that one of them will meet your needs.