Apple's Photos is the default photos app for macOS. Photos makes it simple to browse, edit, and manage your growing photo and video library. The powerful editing and organisation tools built into the Photos complement the workflow so you can share them instantly.
This tutorial uncovers tips and tricks related to the Photos app, showing its capabilities and ways you can use it on Mac and iOS devices for greater productivity in managing photos.
Please note, however, this tutorial will not cover any tips related to migration from iPhoto or Aperture as they’re no longer updated.
For this tutorial, I’ve used a 9.7 inch iPad (2017) with iOS 11 public beta 4 and a Mac Mini with macOS Sierra 10.12.6. It is possible that the software will improve as the beta progress and features may change towards the final release.
1. Change Where Photos Stores Files
When you import photos and videos into Photos, they’re copied and stored in the Photos library. If you prefer, you can store them outside the Photos library, that is reference their location outside the library. The location could be an external hard drive or network attached storage, for example.
Navigate to Photos > Preferences from the menu bar, click the General tab and uncheck Copy items to the Photos library. Any photos you import in the future won’t get copied into the Photos library, instead it remembers the original location of photos and videos.
Photos marks images imported by this way with a small icon—an arrow coming out of a white box—in the bottom-left corner.
If you’re already using iCloud Photos Library, then referenced files won’t sync to iCloud.
To add any of these files to iCloud, select them in the Photos library and choose File > Consolidate.
If you move or rename a reference file, Photos loses the track of those files. On the next launch, you have to find the file but it’s not guaranteed that Photos will re-link them.
The benefit you get from reference location is that you can keep the entire photo collection on the external hard drive without compromising storage space.
2. Move the Photos Library
By default, Pictures folder contains the actual Photos library. If you like, you can move the Photos library to an external drive or another spot on the hard drive. Quit the Photos app and drag the Photos library to another drive or an external drive.
When you’re finished moving the file, launch the Photos app again. If it can’t find the Photo library, Photos opens the Choose Library dialog box. Click Other Library… to find the present library in the another location.
Note—to avoid accidentally deleting or corrupting a Photos library, do not alter the content of the Photos library in Finder.
3. Make a Backup of the Photos Library
I’ve already made the case for the importance of backups and the same principle applies for photos too. You must have an online backup of all the photos, a duplicate backup on an external hard drive and an offsite backup. There are dozens of online backup services and apps to do this job, the choice is up to you.
On an iOS device, you can save device’s photo and videos to Google Photos library. This includes the photo you take with camera and photos saved on the phone.
Open the Google Photos app, tap the menu icon and select Settings > Backup and Sync. Toggle the switch to on, and allow Google Photos to access the Photos app.
Open OneDrive app. On the first launch, you’ll see a message to enable automatic photo backup, just tap Enable or else go to Settings > Camera Upload and allow OneDrive to access Photos app.
This same applies for other cloud backup service as well.
4. Import Photos and Videos From Apps
You can import photos and videos from a Digital camera, scanner, iCloud photo stream, and folders located on an internal or external hard drive.
If you’ve a photo or video on the desktop, secondary-click the photo and choose Share >Add to Photos or if the photo is in the Finder window, click the Share icon and choose Add to Photos.
The Add to Photos shortcut is also visible in Mail, Messages, Safari and Preview.
Some apps don’t offer an easy way to pass pictures to Photos, for example Microsoft Office.
Copy the image to clipboard, open Preview and choose File > New from Clipboard. Paste the content of the clipboard into the new document. In the Preview toolbar, click the Share icon and choose Add to Photos.
5. Edit Videos in the Photos App
If you’ve a video that’s too long to send through Mail or Messages, or want to share just a part of the video then Photos app can let you change the start and stop time to make the video shorter.
Open the Photos app and double-click the video you want to edit. Hover over the video, click the Gear icon and choose Trim.
Move the yellow sliders to change the start and stop timers. If you wish to preview, click the Play button and then click Trim.
At any moment, you can go back to the full length video. Open the video and click Reset Trim.
On iOS , tap the video you want to edit. Tap the Edit button and move the white slider to change the start and stop times.
If you wish to preview, tap the Play button and then tap Done. Photos save the edited video as the new video so you can use the original or modified video whenever you like.
6. Adjust the Size of the Photos Library
If the Photos library is larger than the available storage in iCloud, you can either increase iCloud storage or make some adjustments on the Mac.
First, estimate the size of the Photo lLibrary. Open the Pictures folder, secondary-click the Photos library and click Get Info. A window will pop up with a number in gigabytes.
Even if Photos library is smaller, there could be duplicates which needlessly consume the storage space.
There are many third-party apps available for this purpose: PhotoSweeper, Duplicate Photos Fixer Pro and dupeGuru. Each app make its own assumptions regarding duplicate, and their criteria for selection. Be careful before deleting any duplicate photos in bulk.
You can reduce the size of the Photos library by exporting photos and videos you don’t need.
- Select the items in Photos
- Choose File > Export, and follow the instructions
- Delete the exported items
- Then choose File > Show Recently Deleted and click Delete All to delete the items from the library
7. Find the Missing Photos
If you’re missing some photos and videos, then you can try these tips:
You might have accidentally deleted the photo or video, and now it’s in the Recently Deleted folder.
Go to Photos > Albums > Recently Deleted. If you see the missing photo, click Recover or tap and recover. The photo and video stays in the Recently Deleted folder for 30 days. after that it’s gone forever.
iCloud Photo Library securely stores all the photos and videos in iCloud, so you can access them in all the devices. If you took a photo on your iPhone but don’t see it on the Mac, check the settings. Go to Settings > Your Name > iCloud. Tap Photos and turn on iCloud Photo Library.
Ensure that you sign in to iCloud with same Apple ID. If your iOS device is using different Apple ID, then you cannot see the same photos and videos in all the devices.
You can easily hide photos and videos in the Moments, Years and Collections views.
- On iOS, select the photo you want to hide and tap Share > Hide.
- On the Mac, secondary-click the photo and click Hide.
- If you use iCloud Photo Library then that photo gets hidden in all the devices. To unhide, tap or click the Hidden album in the Album view and unhide.
8. Learn Keyboard Shortcuts
You can use keyboard shortcuts to quickly accomplish tasks in Photos. Some of these shortcuts are common but some are especially useful when you edit photos.
- Command-1: View photos
- Command-2: View memories
- Command-3: View shared photos
- Command-4: View albums
- Command-5: View projects
- C: Activate the Crop tool
- A: Open the Adjustment tool
- E: Invoke the Red-Eye tool
- Z: Zoom in and out
- M: Toggle between the original photo and the version showing your edits
Refer to this Apple Support documentation for more shortcuts.
If you’re struggling to remember shortcuts, then cheatsheet app could be of great help. To use this app, hold the Command key to get a list of all the shortcuts.
9. Access your Photo Library on the Web
If you’re working in a remote location and have iCloud Photo Library turned on, then you can view and download anything in your library on the web.
Login to iCloud and click the Photos icon. In an instant, iCloud prepares the library for viewing online.
Navigation is almost similar to Photos app for iOS. You can upload, share, zoom, and delete. Although you can’t create albums, projects, slideshows, and perform organisational task.
10. Sync iCloud Photos With a PC
In order to use iCloud Photos on a PC, you need
- Windows 7 or later
- iCloud for Windows
- Apple ID
- Turn On the iCloud Photo Library
Launch iCloud for Windows and next to Photos click Options. Select iCloud Photo Library. You can also choose to use My Photo Stream and iCloud Photo Sharing and customise the location of download and upload folders.
Note: when you turn on iCloud Photos Library, My Photo Stream gets turned off automatically. To send new photos to a PC that don’t use iCloud Photos Library, turn on My Photos Stream.
New photos and videos you add to iCloud Photos Library will automatically download to your PC. You can also download photos by year.
To upload photos, open the File Explorer window and drag and drop photos from the PC into the Upload folder in iCloud Photos. Refer to this Apple Support document for more help on setting up iCloud Photos on a PC.
11. Use Photos as a Desktop Wallpaper and Screensaver
On a Mac, you can set a image as the desktop wallpaper or group of photos as screensaver. On iOS, you can set that image as a lock screen and wallpaper or assign different image to lock-screen or wallpaper.
In Photos for Mac, select the thumbnail of the image. Click the Share icon and choose Set Desktop Picture. If you don’t see this command, then you’re making a mistake by selecting album thumbnail instead of image thumbnail.
To fix this, open the album and click the image thumbnail. For best results, make sure the desktop picture you pick has at least as many pixels as your monitor.
You can use any set of pictures from Photos library as a screensaver.
To customise screensaver, go to System Preferences > Desktop & Screen Saver. At the top, click the Screen Saver tab. Choose one of the photo-based screensaver themes from the list on the left. On the right, click the Source menu and choose Photo library or one of the folder containing photos.
In Photos for iOS, tap the thumbnail of the image. Tap Share and choose Use as Wallpaper. Drag to position the photo, and use pinch gesture to set its scale.
Choose whether you want Perspective Zoom, and whether to use this photo on lock screen, home screen or both.
12. Enjoy Old Photos With Memories
macOS Sierra and iOS brought a number of new features, and among those was Memories. It brings back your favourite and forgotten moments located deep in the Photo library, and automatically creates a curated collection of photos and videos based on time, place, or theme.
Every Memory begins with a large header image and a text. The text could an event, date or your favourites. A memory page also features groups and people who appear together, a map showing where the photos and videos were taken, and a list of related memories.
You can make a memory from any Moment, Collection, Year or Album in the Photo library.
On Mac, open an Album and click Show as Memory in the header. If you’re in the Photos tab, click the title of a group of photos to open them as a Memory.
On iOS, tap on the header of any Moments, Collection, Year or Album. Scroll to the bottom of the screen and tap Add to Memories.
To save that memory, scroll to the bottom of the screen and tap or click Add to favorite Memories.
You’ll find it in the Favourite Memories album of the Photos app. And, finally tap Share to share unforgettable moments with friends and family.
13. Edit a Memory Video
When you tap a Memory video in Photos for iOS, you can play the video, share it with other people via Share icon or refine the content according to mood and length.
If the video still doesn’t feel right you can edit it. Tap the Edit icon to bring the Edit screen.
In the Edit screen you can edit the title of the Memory, choose a title style, select music offered by Apple or your own track, set a specific duration, and add or remove items included in the video.
For example, you can remove bad photo and insert good photo. Tap Done to build a new video.
In this part of the tutorial series I showed you some tips and tricks you can use to improve workflow with the Photos app. In the next part of the tutorial series, I shall show you more tips and tricks to use Photos like a pro.