In 2014, Apple announced that they would no longer be supporting iPhoto for Mac, or the company’s professional photography application, Aperture. Instead, Cupertino is working on a new application called Photos for Mac, which is expected to launch sometime this year.
If you’re an iPhoto user, this can be troubling news. Making matters worse, Cupertino has been largely mum on which features will be added or lost when the new software is released.
Given the uncertainly of Photos for Mac, is now the time to switch to one, or multiple, third-party solutions for your digital photos? That depends on your situation, of course.
What iPhoto for Mac is — and isn’t
In general terms, iPhoto for Mac serves two main purposes.
First, it’s a photo management tool. Second, the application offers photo-editing tools, such as quick fixes, adjustments, and effects.
As a photo management tool, iPhoto does an admirable job at organizing your photos by Event, Date, Faces, or Location. In some cases, however, this is a labor-intensive process.
For example, you need to tell iPhoto who is in each photo. Based on this information, the application attempts to find that person’s face in other photos. It has been my experience that this process doesn’t always work. In particular, children’s faces are difficult to match, as are people from the same family. In other words, for most folks, organizing photos by Faces is more of a gimmick, than a realistic solution.
Many also incorrectly assume that being a photo management tool means that iPhoto is backing up your photos. It is not. To perform this task, you need to use the Time Machine software built into OS X, or a third-party solution.
Do you like to edit photos? Again, iPhoto does an admirable job at this. However, the tools presented aren’t for professionals. Even as a basic photo editing tool, better solutions do exist.
Backing up your data
At the minimum, you should make sure that your photos are being backed up. Conceptually, Apple’s iCloud is supposed to do this. Unfortunately, given the uncertainly of Photos for Mac, better solutions are currently available. Two that come highly recommended also serve as photo-management solutions.
Dropbox is a well-known Web-based file hosting service that allows users to automatically upload photos or videos from a camera, tablet, SD card, or smartphone. There is no cost for up to 2GB of storage. For $9.99 per month, you can subscribe to Dropbox Pro and store up to 1TB of data.
I’ve been using Dropbox for years to back up all of my Mac files. Because it does so in the background, you can set it up and then forget about it. Better still: your files can be shared across multiple devices and with others.
ThisLife by Shutterfly also provides online photo storage. You can store up to 2,500 photos for free. For as little as $59 per year, you can store up to 25,000 photos and HD videos. Unlike Dropbox, ThisLife also provides limited photo-editing tools via an online or app-based tool.
There are a number of brilliant photo-editing tools available for Mac. Each can be used in conjunction with iPhoto, Dropbox, or ThisLife.
Adobe Photoshop Elements 13 ($79.99) is a raster graphics editor, which targets photography enthusiasts, not experts.
With Adobe Photoshop Elements, you can make quick edits, add artistic touches, or transform your photos to show your vision. You’re also able to access your photos on the go, and share your masterpieces through email and social networks.
We also like Pixelmator 3.3 ($29.99), which offers Adobe Photoshop-class tools at the fraction of the price. The application features pixel-accurate selection tools, painting, drawing, and retouching options, more than 160 effects, and a collection of professional-grade color correction tools.
If you’re ready to take your photos to the next level, consider FX Studio ($29.99). Created by Macphun, the application features a number of high quality photo filters and effects.
Finally, there is Snapheal 2.5 ($19.99). Also from Macphun, the application features a simple UI with the ability to remove unwanted objects with ease. A Pro version is also available.
Don’t let the uncertainly over iPhoto for Mac ruin your day. Other solutions do exist, many much better than Apple’s own.
Even if you decide to stick with iPhoto and wait for Photos for Mac to arrive, be sure that you are backing up your collection. When you’re ready to dabble in other photo-editing tools, they are ready to be downloaded.