Creating Smart Albums In Photos

Learn how to create smart albums in the new Photos app for Mac. Smart albums allow you to specify criteria like title, camera model, date and other things to build an album automatically. Smart Albums will automatically update as you add new photos to your library that match the criteria. You can combine Smart Albums and keywords to organize your photos.

Video Transcript
Hi, this is Gary with On today's episode let me show you how to create Smart Albums in the new Photos app for Mac.

To create a new Smart Album you can do it one of many ways. I'm going to use File, New Smart Album and you're going to have this very simple interface. Let's create something called Test and then you have to specify some criteria for the Smart Album.

So on the left here you've got the basic criteria. You can say you want it to be in a certain Album. You want it to be from a certain date, have something in the Description, use Faces, use Filenames. Anything listed here. There is a lot of different things.

For instance let's go and use Date. We can say the date, is, is not, is after, is before, you have a lot of options here. For instance we can say is in the last, and you can see how this changes now to allow you to go one day, two days, weeks, months, years, whatever you want. Whatever you choose here will then change. If I say is then it will give me a date interface here where I can select a date. If you say is in the range I will get two dates to go from one to the other. So this will all change depending on what you select.

Likewise if you were to select Description you can do includes, does not include, or is exactly this, starts with, ends with. Whatever you want there. The same is true for any of these. Sometimes it will actually pull from your data. So, for instance, if I were to select Aperture I can select is greater than or equal to or I can select from a list here. This list is actually taken from all of my photos. It looks through them all to see the aperture of all the photos and lists the ones that are available.

The same is true for a lot of this here. So for instance if I would do Camera Model I can click here and see all these different cameras. Some of these are my cameras. Some of these are actually cameras I don't even own but say somebody sent me a photo that I include now in my collection and that's part of the metadata for that image. So these are just all the photos I have in this particular library were taken with one of these devices.

So let's create a simple Smart Album. We're going to go and say I want everything where the date is in the last and say thirty days. You can see here it shows me that there are no items matched for this. So let's try something longer. Let's try say is in the last nine months. Now you can see it matches thirteen items there. I click okay and it creates the album. There it is. Now I can select it and see all the photos in it.

Now it is important to realize one of the best features of Smart Albums is that they update automatically. So since the criteria for this Smart Album is any photo taken in the last nine months if I take a photo today then of course that is within the last nine months. It will automatically be added to this Smart Album. I don't have to do anything. I don't have to hit a button or anything like that. The next time I view this Smart Album, of if I'm looking at it it will do it in front of my eyes, it would add that photo because it fits that criteria. That is the great thing about these is that you could create these Smart Albums and then they will update automatically.

You can also alter Smart Albums. I'm going to Control Click here and I'm going to Edit Smart Album. Now I can change the name. I can change this to be say the last twelve months. You can see it updates the number of items. I can add more criteria.

So you hit the Plus button here and say in addition to that I'm also going to select the camera model. So I only want pictures taken with my DSLR so I'll select that, right there. You can see if I hit okay it will update the album for those. I can continue to edit Smart Album for any of these.

Now notice this Match any of the following conditions. So what this is doing now is showing me any pictures that were taken in the last twelve months or were taken with this camera. If I change it to All now its any taken in the last twelve months and they had to use this camera. You want to make sure you select the right one of these. So now this is going to limit it a little bit more because it has to meet both of those criteria. There is those photos that were taken with my DSLR and in the last twelve months.

There is a lot of other great stuff you can do with just the simple amount of options that you've got here that you can set. For instance you can use Keywords. So let's change it here. I'm going to just change Keyword is and I'm going to have it only that. I'm going to select a keyword. So let's select Hawaii as a keyword. So fourteen items match and I click okay. So now this Smart Album is only showing photos that I've put Hawaii as a keyword in it. So I can actually change the name to Hawaii and then as I'm looking at other photos I can, let's see go to look at some more Hawaii photos, and any photo that I want I can add a keyword. So let's do that. Let's get info on this photo here. Add a keyword Hawaii and now it has that keyword. If I go to my Smart Album, there it is.

So instead of actually organizing your stuff in albums you can assign keywords to photos and then create Smart Albums that will then show everything that has that keyword. Just another way of handling albums and being able to organize your photos.

Okay, so now I've got some homework for you. To really get the best use out of Smart Albums I want you to go in and create a sample Smart Album and then checkout every single one of these options here. So you can see if you select album you can choose from current albums that you've got. Or eliminating, you know showing photos that are not in a certain album. You can go through things like Faces and it will actually list all the faces that you've got available. One there. You can go and select Photo for instance. There are some interesting options. You can select Is and whether it is favorite, hidden, edited, whether it is RAW format, tagged with GPS, all sorts of things. So if you want to see photos that are not tagged with GPS you can select tagged with GPS is not. You can see ninety photos here that do not have GPS information.

So check out every single one of these to see what all the options are to really understand how Smart Albums work and how they can help you organize your photos. Then try creating some and see how useful they are.

Comments: 21 Responses to “Creating Smart Albums In Photos”

    Richard Fuhr
    6/15/15 @ 7:28 am

    Can a photo ever be automatically removed from a smart album? For instance, suppose you have created a smart album with the criterion to include all photos created within the past 30 days. When you first create the album, there may be photos that match this criterion, but as time goes on, some of the photos will be more than 30 days old. Will these photos be automatically removed from the smart album?

      6/15/15 @ 7:31 am

      Yes. Think of a Smart Album as a “search” that is automatically performed each time you go to look at the smart album.

    6/15/15 @ 4:17 pm

    I have just upgraded to Photos and I found this most helpful. Thank you

    6/18/15 @ 9:04 am

    Just about to switch to Photos. My current iPhoto library is automatically on my external HD. When I convert to Photos, will the pictures automatically go to the external drive, or do I need to direct them to go there? Also, do I need to reset any settings on my other ext HD that I use as TimeMacine backup? Thanks.

      6/18/15 @ 4:14 pm

      I don’t know if it will happen automatically, but you can move the library file just as you did with iPhoto.
      I don’t know if I get your second question, though. This has nothing to do with Time Machine settings.

        Shazar Robinson
        6/20/15 @ 10:38 pm

        Be aware – I had iphoto libraries on my external HD. Photos took over on my Mac – iphoto app deleted, and then I went to access the external library and it would not open. After an extended call to the Apple support team – the following worked: Go to the app store and download the Iphoto app. Then you should be able to open your external HD library. It may not open in Photos automatically. Hope this is useful and not off topic for you.

          6/21/15 @ 5:02 am

          I don’t know why everyone is in such a rush to delete iPhoto after upgrading to Photos. I keep advising people to keep it around for a while. It doesn’t hurt.

    Bill (William)
    6/18/15 @ 10:15 am

    I cannot add a location to my photos as I could in iPhotos and therefore cannot create an album based on a place. Is there something I should be doing?

      6/18/15 @ 4:15 pm

      Right. You can’t add or edit GPS info. Request that as a feature so Apple add it.

        Bill (William)
        6/19/15 @ 2:12 am

        Thanks, Gary. Will do.

    6/18/15 @ 1:26 pm

    Love your dog Gary

      6/18/15 @ 4:15 pm

      Jack is very friendly and loves everyone. So I can say that even though he hasn’t met you, he loves you too. :)

    6/18/15 @ 1:45 pm

    Thanks for the great info Gary (as always). Since tagging/adding keywords gives you so much opportunities with regards to creating smart albums, I wonder if it’s possible to bring up the photo’s that are NOT tagged yet. Didn’t find this option.

      6/18/15 @ 2:15 pm

      P.S.: I consider adding each and every keyword as an “is not” condition in a smart album, not as a serious solution …

        6/20/15 @ 4:23 am

        No, but it is the only one I could think of. If you come up with a better one, let us know. You could always create a Smart Album for each keyword you use (maybe you already have?) and then select all in each one of those Smart Albums, add a keyword “tagged” or something to all of those photos. Then do an “is not” for that “tagged” keyword. That’s an other idea.
        Or, you could suggest a “has no keyword assigned” condition as a new feature to Apple, then wait for that feature to appear in a future version of Photos.

      6/18/15 @ 4:21 pm

      You could make a smart album for “keyword” and “is not” and then the first keyword. Then add more lines to that smart album definition until you include them all. Then choose “all” instead of “any” at the top.

    6/18/15 @ 3:09 pm

    Great video, Gary- thanks so much. A couple questions:
    1) Are the pics in the smart album stored TWICE? (Once in the smart album, and once in the photo library as well?) If so, that would be a waste of storage space.
    2) Is there any way to group pics in the photo library? In the new Photos, all the pics are organized by single date, whereas in the old iPhotos, I would arrange my pics to say for example, “June 2015” and drag all my June pics into there. This takes up way less screen space.

      6/18/15 @ 4:23 pm

      1) No. Not al all. All photos are stored once. You can add them to as many albums and smart albums as you wish, but your “library” only has one copy. Think of it like playlists in iTunes.
      2) No. The Photos list is a complete list of all of your photos. Use Albums if you want to store them in groups like “June 2015.” If you put each photo in an album, you can not use the Photos list at all, just albums. This way the Photos app can cater to all sorts of people who organize things differently.

        6/18/15 @ 9:50 pm

        Okay, that makes sense. Good suggestion. Thanks again, Gary.

    Michael Atkins
    6/18/15 @ 6:56 pm

    The smart albums I create do not appear on my iPad but Favorites and Recently Deleted do. Can get my own smart albums to show on IOS?

      6/18/15 @ 7:46 pm

      The iOS version of Photos doesn’t have Smart Albums. Request it as a feature from Apple if it is something you want.

Comments Closed.