Working guide for Aperture: Apple's photo editing and management app

Read this article for guidelines to work with the Apple photo editing and photo management app: Aperture. Read about the features of the Aperture app for Mac and utilize its capabilities to create amazing images for professional as well as personal use.

First released in 2005, Apple's Aperture is a photo editing and management application which can be thought of as a more professional and flexible 'big brother' to the popular iPhoto, which comes bundled with every new Mac as part of the iLife suite. Some of Aperture's most compelling features include a flexible range of tools to facilitate the nondestructive editing of photographs and an organization method which makes the usually tedious task of cataloguing endless image files both novel and intuitive, due to remarkably accurate facial recognition technology, Stacks and - optionally - the use of GPS data.

Aperture also allows us to make full use of the usual social network media platforms, such as Facebook and Flickr for easy uploading, and the application is fully integrated into Apple's wider ecosystem, enabling easy management and editing of Photo Stream, with images taken on corrpatible iOS devices automatically showing up in Aperture.

In this first glimpse at Aperture, take a look at getting started with importing photos, basic editing and the upload of finished images - everything you need to dive right into Apple's premier image management and editing solution!

Introducing Apple Aperture application for Mac

Unfortunately, the free 30-day trial of Aperture which was previously available has been discontinued by Apple, but those wishing to purchase a copy can do so from the Mac App Store for $79.99. Once having downloaded and installed Aperture, the initial launch will present the Aperture splash screen above, which contains links to useful information well worth your time perusing. Be sure to tick the box titled 'Show this window when Aperture opens', located on the bottom left corner of the splash screen if you would like to come back to it at another time.

If you already have an existing iPhoto Library which you would like to import into Aperture, navigate to the Aperture menu and select File > Import > iPhoto Library and it should appear.

Importing images to Aperture app

To import photos to Aperture, click on the Import button which resembles a large arrow (located toward the top of Aperture's screen) and from here you should be able to navigate to the location of your images - whether on your Mac, iPhone or other digital camera.

While completing the import process we also have the option of tweaking some basic settings, such as the name of the Aperture Project the photos shall be stored within. In addition, Aperture gives users the option of storing files in the Aperture Library or their current location and this last point is very useful as it means that you can allow the app to take control of your photos and store them all in one neat Aperture Library, rather than reams of folders.

Editing of photos/images in Aperture app

Let's embark upon some basic editing by choosing a desired image and selecting the Adjustments tab, which is located on the left-hand pane of Aperture app's main window. Within the Adjustments pane, there are hosted several methods of editing images and these are covered in brief below:

Presets in Aperture photo editing app

The Presets drop-down menu contains four sub-menus and within these we can select a number of presets, such as Black & White, Toy Camera and Vintage. Be sure to experiment with these presets as they can offer unintended but excellent results. Pausing the mouse pointer over a particular preset for a moment will show a small preview of what your image will look like once edited.

Sliders in Aperture photo editing app

Aperture app's adjustment sliders offer complete control over your image's levels and all the usual settings, which one would expect are present for fine-tuning, including exposure, contrast, tint and color.

Adjustments (drop-down menu) of Aperture photo editing app

The adjustments drop-down menu contains many of the fundamental image editing tools which comes to mind when one is looking to touch-up a digital photograph. There are brushes for sharpening, blurring and shadowing, in addition to cropping, resizing and noise reduction, enabling easy editing from the subtle to a complete image overhaul.

Organizing your Aperture library

One of the biggest challenges facing those who wish to maintain a large repository of photographs (or indeed, any file) is cataloguing each image in a way that makes it easy to find in the future. Thankfully, gone are the days when we would need to manually navigate a folder filled with thousands of .JPG files and Aperture uses several methods to make the all important task of organizing your photographs as painless as possible.

Faces recognition to organise photos in Aperture app

In Faces, Aperture app makes use of a very novel and often spookily accurate approach to organizing your photos. By making use of automatic facial recognition software technology to match a name to a face, relevant photos can be organized on a person-by-person basis. To get started, you'll first need to undergo the slightly tedious task of assigning names to faces manually in order to train the software but, providing the amount of faces you wish Aperture to recognize is not too vast, this takes only a short while and you'll then be tasked with letting Aperture know whether it's guessed right or not for the rest by clicking a tick or cross, respectively.

Plotting of places in images according to GPS data in Aperture app

With the proliferation of high quality camera phones such as the iPhone, many photos will now contain GPS data embedded within them and Aperture app can optionally make use of this data with Places, plotting the location your photos were taken on a world map, powered by Google. To ensure privacy issues are not flaunted, Aperture will first ask whether you would like to display the GPS metadata from your imported photos - the settings can also be changed later if desired.

If your photo does not contain GPS data but you'd still like to add it to Places, just drag and drop that image onto the map.

Combine similar images into Stacks in Aperture app

Owning multiple versions of the same image is often necessary but seldom interesting to browse through. Stacks in Aperture app on Mac mitigates this common complaint and makes finding images easier by enabling the user to combine several images into one Stack. Just select several images and right-click to bring up the menu, then select Stack.

Photo Stream & exporting to social networks through Aperture app

Nowadays, many people like to share their images online somewhere, whether to Flickr, Facebook, or just by emailing to friends. Aperture app for Mac does just this and also integrates with Photo Stream and all compatible iOS devices which are also using Apple's cloud photo service. Exporting your photos to services such as Flickr and Facebook is very simple and merely requires that one clicks on the relevant icon and follows the sign-in process. Be aware, though, that uploading many images at once can take a significant length of time.


Hopefully this introduction to Aperture has proven useful and has given you a good place to get started using Aperture. Due to its complex and flexible nature, it would be impractical to cover every aspect of the application here in one article and so I've merely touched on the basics to offer a brief overview.

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