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(Did you miss part 1? Start here.)

Once you’ve devised what your strategy is going to be, you’re ready to sort out your old mess. Actually, first I’d recommend that you live with the new structure for a little while, to make sure it’s to your liking. You may find that you want to make tweaks to it when you first start living with it, and there’s no sense in organizing a decade of photos today to find out in a month that you wish you’d done things slightly differently. So, once you’ve devised your structure, import all new photos following your new method for a while, until you have determined that you’re happy with it.


Looking at a mess of photos is daunting, but organizing them can be done. The first step should be to create the framework, or shell, where everything will go. If you’re going to have two top level folders for personal and professional, create those. If you’re going to group by year, create an empty year folder for each year as well.


It’s impossible for me to tell you exactly how to handle your specific library without seeing it in person, however here are some ideas that may apply to you.

Many people have loads of Untitled projects, or projects with short, unhelpful names. However if every time you imported images from your camera you created a new project, you’re already off to a great start. Just view the Project Info (Window > Show Project Info) to get the date of the earliest photo in there, and glance at the photos to get an idea of a descriptive name. Put that in the project title, and then move the project into the appropriate folder.


If the project contains different events of photos spread across multiple dates, or if you just have a few projects with thousands of mixed-up photos, then simply sort by date and move selections of photos into new projects. This is easy to do all at once. Just select a batch of photos to move, and choose File > New > Project (Command-N). Name the project, and be sure to enable the checkbox “Move selected items to new project”. This will create a named project and move the photos all at once. Then just move the project itself to whatever folder it now belongs to.


If you find photos that don’t really belong anywhere, like one or two photos of the kids that aren’t part of any event, what I tend to do is create a miscellaneous project for the month, that would look like “2013-02 | Misc.” and drop those photos in there.

If you have loads of duplicates, that can get a bit complicated. Often duplicates are from duplicate imports, or if you transitioned from an old version of iPhoto, you may have originals and adjusted versions of the photos. There’s no easy answer to how to solve duplicates as it depends on your situation. There are several duplicate detection apps out there; just type “aperture duplicate” into google and you’ll see several suggestions of where to go next.

In part 3, we’ll talk about how to further organize your photos using albums, smart albums, and keywords.

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About Richard Harrington

Richard Harrington is the founder of RHED Pixel, a visual communications company based in Washington, D.C. He is the Publisher of Photofocus and Creative Cloud User as well as an author on Rich has authored several books including From Still to Motion, Understanding Photoshop, Professional Web Video, and Creating DSLR Video.


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