MacMost Now 893: Editing Photos In External Editors

You can set iPhoto and Aperture to use an external app to edit photos instead of merely using the adjustment and filter editing in the apps. You can set iPhoto to use Pixelmator, but Photoshop works more smoothly when trying to save back into your library.
Video Transcript / Captions
Closed captioning for this video is available on YouTube: MacMost Now 893: Editing Photos In External Editors.

Hi this is Gary with MacMost Now. On today's episode let's look at using an external graphics editor with iPhoto and Aperture.

In iPhoto you can certainly do a lot of editing or really adjusting of photos without leaving the app. For instance I've selected a photo here, I go to Edit at the bottom, and now have a variety of options here, some effects that I can apply, and a lot of adjustments.

But say you wanted to do something like actually cut a chunk out of an image or paste something into it, or draw a line or circle or something like that that you would normally do in a graphics program.

Well you can set iPhoto so instead of going to this interface it opens up the photo in an external app. Then you can edit it there and save it. It will save it back into iPhoto.

So let's start off by going into Preferences and setting this up. Now you have all these different preferences here. You want to go into Advanced and you see Edit Photos and you see In iPhoto and one other choice. Now a lot of people get stuck with this because they expect to see maybe a list of all the graphics apps here. But what you actually get is two choices; In iPhoto or with another app and it will show you the name of the app.

Now in this case I had it set to Preview previously. I don't want to use Preview but I don't have to. I select this one and it is going to come up with a window here where I can now navigate to Applications and select any app I want to edit the photo.

So the thing is a little misleading. I don't want to go to Preview in this case I'm going to use Pixelmator as an example but you can certainly use Photoshop or Seashore or all sorts of other apps to do this.

So now that we have set it up let's go and select a photo and hit Edit. Instead of going to that editing interface it is going to open up this image inside of Pixelmator. You can see we are running Pixelmator now. I can use any of these tools, filters, all sorts of different things.

Just to make it simple and obvious that we are editing the photo I'm actually just going to draw with a brush all over the photo. Great, so now I've made some changes. Certainly something I couldn't have done in iPhoto and the question is how do I get it back into iPhoto or do I want to.

My goal was simply to create a version of this that I can then post on a website or post in an email or keep some other way then I may not want to save it in iPhoto. In that case I would just go to File/Save and I would save to Pixelmator file or I could go to File/Export or Share and export it some other way and maybe save it and leave it completely out of iPhoto since it is not really a photo anymore but a graphic I created from a photo.

If I want the image to go back to my iPhoto library then the only real way to do that is Share and Add to iPhoto. This will work with any Pixelmator image. It would actually just put it in your iPhoto collection. I can see it there as the last import and I can see there is the original and this is the new one, the latest one imported, where I can see that it has been edited.

Now you may say wouldn't it be simpler to edit it in Pixelmator and then hit Command S and then it saves it right back to iPhoto. Well, according to the Pixelmator website they used to have it this way but received so many complaints from people that had their original photo changed and really wanted a copy in iPhoto and not a replacement of the original that they decided to put it this way, nondestructive, so you can never actually change the original photo which is always there. You can simply create a new copy of it. It makes sense. It is probably the safest way to go if not the most convenient.

Now I change it and instead of Pixelmator I'm going to use Photoshop. Now when I go to edit this photo here it will open it up in Photoshop. I can draw on it in a similar way. Use anything, any filter I want. Photoshop works differently. I can actually go Save, Command S. It does give me some jpeg options here. It is not going to save the Photoshop document back to iPhoto is it going to save the jpeg copy. Then I can close it in Photoshop and then I can go back to iPhoto and lo and behold I can see that the photo had been updated. Better still I can go to Photos/Revert to Original and see that the original is still there inside this photo here. So just as if I would make the changes inside of iPhoto I can then revert to the original as well there.

So I like how Photoshop does it here and hopefully Pixelmator will start doing it that way as well.

Also note that just because you set the Preference to Edit in External Editor, or maybe you haven't set it that way, doesn't mean that you can't do it on a one by one basis. So I'm going to do a two-finger click or Control click here and you can see I have on this photo options Edit in iPhoto or Edit in External Editor. So I can still get to the iPhoto editor here even though I have it set to the default external editor. If I had it set to the default editing in iPhoto I could still go and access the external editor by Control clicking or two-finger tapping on the trackpad to get to this menu.

Now in Aperture it is basically the same thing except that you have even more choices here. So you go under Export in Preferences and you can see I can choose an External Photo Editor. I can even tell it what type of file structure to use to send to the external editor. So I can actually use a native Photoshop document or a TIFF file which is less compressed than jpeg.

So I'll choose, in this case, let's choose Pixelmator. Now when I select a photo here and go to edit it, see if go to Photos/Edit with Pixelmator app, so I can do Shift/Command/O for that and it will export that. Open that up inside of Pixelmator. You can see it has that .tiff there. I can make the changes to it and just as before I can export it or whatever I want to do. But I also have the ability to just hit Save here now in Pixelmator. So now when I go back into Aperture I can see it actually created a second version here in Aperture. So it is a much simpler process and I can see clearly that I've got the original here and the edited version here.

A similar thing happens if you set it to Photoshop.

So there are the basics about using external editors for editing photos with iPhoto or Aperture. If you do a lot with your photos you may find this useful.

Until next time this is Gary with MacMost Now.

Comments: 9 Responses to “MacMost Now 893: Editing Photos In External Editors”

    E Bond Francisco
    6 years ago

    Hi Gary, cruising the Mac Most ocean, and loved this tip about photo editing except…I’m running OSX10.8.4, and when I go to choose an app for photo editing, I see only two choices, iPhoto and Mail. Preview isn’t available, and there doesn’t seem to be any way to actually choose Photoshop. Any clues? Thanks so much for all of your enlightening work! ~Bond

      6 years ago

      Watch the video closely. There are always 2 choices: iPhoto and something else. Choose the something else and you can select what that something else is. Try it.

    Ron Paris
    6 years ago

    This was great, thanks. A question…
    If I have a number of plugins from places like Topaz, Nik and onOne, can I get to them as well using this method?
    Also, if my main preference is RAW files, will this work?
    Again, thanks for a terrific tip.

      6 years ago

      Plugins? You mean Photoshop plugins? Once you bring the photo into Photoshop, via this method or any other, you can certainly use anything you have set up in Photoshop. Try it.

    Martin Kimeldorf
    6 years ago

    I’ve won many photo contest using my iPhone camera. The secret: get a good editor like photoshop and really learn how to use it There are no shortcuts let you want to lug around expensive camera still need to use it I use camer645 and foot RAW

    Jack hill
    6 years ago

    do you have some suggestions for using Photoshop Elements 10 as the external editor.I haven’t been able to find a way to save an edited photo back into IPhoto once I edit it with Elements.
    Thanks in Advance.

    Mr Anthony Cotton
    6 years ago

    Jack Hill, there is some controversy over Photoshop Elements,and Photoshop. I use Photoshop,but when I looked into Elements there did not seem to be a huge difference. One guy on the site said if I knew that I would of bought Photoshop.
    I also checked out Corel Painter,and now I am thinking of buying that one.
    It`s amazing what it can do. Photoshop works with iPhoto. With Elements you can just export it,and it should open in iPhoto.

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