iPhoto and freeing up space in your hard-drive

Posted on August 9, 2005

Today I was having a conversation with Vasco over lunch and we brushed on the subject of his having to free up some space on his iBook prior to going away on vacation with some friends. You see, he is the closest one to a geek on that particular group (not that he is much of a geek per-se, but you know what I mean) and he will be the only one carrying a laptop, so he just knows he will end up downloading all the photos from every digital machine every day into his computer and, as always, space is at a premium.

Now, as I said, he isn’t all that geeky and therefore he doesn’t have the multi-layered backup strategy I have with my media and all he wants is to be able to take some photos out of iPhoto, but be able to load them in and view them at a later time, while retaining names, comments, tags and so on.

At lunch I though up a way to do this which, while not overly complicated is way too much trouble and, of course, it turns out there is a better way of doing it.

What I thought about was that he could create another Library (you know you can hold down the option key while iPhoto is starting up and you can create and choose new libraries don’t you? ;) ), move the pictures he wants out of the way into that library, being careful to keep it below the available space on the selected medium of backup, and then just transfer that library onto the medium. This is probably a CD we are talking about here.

It works, it keeps all the information available but it is also over-work.

I mulled this over in my head during the afternoon and it just didn’t feel right that you had to do something like this on an Apple product. It felt weird… So I decided to investigate and, lo and behold, there is in fact a better way, which was right under my nose all this time!

You just make a album with the photos you want to take out of the computer, go to the “share” menu and select “Burn Disc”. Put in a CD (or, I assume, a DVD) and there you go. Everything is transfered into it.

When you later put the disc in your computer it automagically runs iPhoto and you get a new source alongside your albums with everything that is on the disc. Cool, huh?

The downside, of course, is that the disc has the structure that iPhoto knows about so if you want to get those files on another computer you have to dig in the directory structure and look for them, but then you have the originals untouched, the edited pictures and all the information about the photos on a (hopefully) open enough XML-based data file (have to check this one out to be sure).

I knew there had to be a better way of doing it. It was just a feeling, but there had to be “the Apple way” of doing it. And for the casual user it is, of course, way better. Nice job!

Update: Aparently I spoke too soon… It seems that this procedure doesn’t keep the tags you assigned to your images when you move them to the CD, even if you keep the tags in iPhoto. I don’t know about the descriptions or comments. I thought it kept the tags because it appeared to do so for me, but the only tag my test pictures had on them was ‘RAW’ and it seems that it is an automatic one so it doesn’t count for the test.

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