The Hidden Editing Power of Photos for OS X

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Photos for OS X is a consumer application, replacing iPhoto, but you’ll be surprised at how capable it is as a photo editor. In my latest article for Macworld, I look at several unexpected ways the editing features are more powerful than it appears, from keyboard shortcuts to the sophisticated Levels tool.

Read it here: The Hidden Editing Power of Photos for OS X

(Fair warning: the Macworld page includes an annoying auto-playing video. In fact, as I write this, all the comments in the article are about the video. Macworld’s editors can’t do anything about it, unfortunately: it’s a business decision made higher up. I know first-hand that the editors have tried for years to get rid of the autoplay videos.)

Speaking of Photos for OS X, my new book is now available!

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New Book! Photos for OS X and iOS

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Apple is in the middle of a dramatic overhaul of its photo software, discontinuing iPhoto and Aperture and replacing them with the new Photos for OS X. Since iPhoto was the pre-installed, easy-to-use application for managing digital photos on the Mac, millions of people use it for their photo libraries. But Photos for OS X isn’t just an update to iPhoto—it’s a complete rewrite that often looks and behaves differently than its predecessor, designed to work with the Photos app on iPhones and iPads and with the new iCloud Photo Library.

This is where my new book comes in! The full title is Photos for OS X and iOS: Take, edit, and share photos in the Apple photography ecosystem, and it covers the whole shebang, such as:

  • How to capture photos and videos using an iPhone or iPad (even the Apple Watch!)
  • Smart strategies for converting iPhoto and Aperture libraries, and what changes when you switch to Photos for OS X
  • Importing photos from any camera
  • How to set up and use iCloud Photo Library, and understand its occasional quirks
  • How to edit photos on the Mac (which is more capable than you might think!) and on iOS devices
  • Creating prints, photo books, calendars, and slideshows

I’ve packed a lot of information into 200 pages, along with full-color photos, lots of screenshots, and plenty of answers. The book is now available in stores and from online retailers for as little as $18. (If you order the print or ebook versions from Amazon.com or directly from Peachpit, I get a small commission that helps to support the work I do. Peachpit also offers a bundle that includes the print book and ebook files—PDF, EPUB, and MOBI.)

To celebrate the launch, I’m giving away five copies of the ebook version! To be eligible, all you have to do is sign up for my newsletter. You’re welcome to unsubscribe after the drawing if you’d like; the newsletter is a way for me to get to know my readers better, announce new projects, and do giveaways like this. I’ll pick the five winners randomly on Monday, August 10, 2015.

Here’s a selection of pages from the book to give you an idea of what you’ll find. I really like how it turned out:

My Review of Photos for OS X at Macworld

Apple dropped OS X Yosemite 10.10.3 today, and with it the release version of the new Photos for OS X. You can read my detailed review of the replacement for iPhoto and Aperture at Macworld here: Review: Photos for OS X is faster than iPhoto but less powerful than Aperture.

Photos for OS X Preview Now Available to Developers

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Less than a week after scrubbing all mention of the new Photos for OS X app from its Web site, Apple has re-introduced the new software with a splash. A pre-release version is currently available to developers, bundled with a beta of OS X 10.10.3 (you need to install the system update to get the Photos app). The finished software is expected in the spring.

I haven’t had a chance to run the software yet, but several media outlets got an advanced look. I recommend starting with Chris Breen’s excellent overview at Macworld. David Pogue at Yahoo talks about switching from iPhoto and Aperture. And Wired and The Verge also have first-look articles.

[Update: Serenity Caldwell has given it a once-over and has a great FAQ at iMore.]

Some quick takeaways:

  • Switching from existing iPhoto and Aperture libraries looks to be less terrible than it could be; Photos won’t dupe your images, but will work with your existing library.
  • Photos for OS X is reportedly very fast. After iPhoto and Aperture sluggishness, I’m thrilled to hear it.
  • The new app, at least initially (?), won’t include support for star ratings or labels. Instead, there will be just a single “Favorite” button, as is found in the Photos for iOS app. As you know from my book Take Control of Your Digital Photos, I’m a big fan of using ratings to organize photos. In their place, the Photos app will convert ratings to keywords (which is one method I recommend when moving from iPhoto to Lightroom). So, that’s something, I guess.
  • You will be able to sync your photo library with iCloud, but it won’t be required. We don’t yet know if there will be a local backup option akin to Aperture’s vaults. (I’m guessing the answer is no, at least not at first.)
  • The appearance, organization, and editing tools are very similar to the Photos for iOS app.
  • Photos also supports projects like photo books and slideshows.

I’m looking forward to installing the app and throwing some libraries at it, both because I’m updating Take Control of Your Digital Photos and because I’m also working on a new book for Peachpit Press covering the Photos app and Apple’s photo ecosystem.

It’s going to be a busy winter and spring.