Editing With the Photos App

Take a look at the editing controls in the new Photos app on the Mac. You can use automatic settings and filters to quickly change the look of your photos. You can also rotate and crop photos, and use precise color adjustments. Some controls only show you limited settings until you reveal more controls. You can also remove imperfections or whole objects from photos.

Video Transcript
Hi this is Gary with MacMost.com. On this episode let's take a look at the editing tools in the new Photos app.

Editing a photo is pretty straight forward but there is a lot of hidden controls. So let's take a look at it.

Let's select a photo here and I'm going to double click on it to bring it up. Then I'm going to hit the Edit button. This brings us into the photo editing mode.

The first thing I want to point out is that there is this handy control over here where you can bring up the sidebar and it shows you all of the photos in the collection you are looking at. It allows you to quickly swap between them so you can edit. Notice I'm in editing mode for both of these photos. So I can quickly edit a group of photos this way.

Let's focus on this one right here. We can see the editing controls here on the right. This is a picture of our new puppy Jack, one-eyed Jack as we call him, and we're going to go and edit this photo in all sorts of different ways.

Let's start with the Enhance button here which is just a one click and it tries to, basically, make the picture better by adjusting all sorts of different things. So you can see how there is the difference there. I can click this Revert to Original Picture here and go back and forth and see how it just brightens the colors up there.

The next button down here is the Rotate button. This allows me to go in 90 degree increments. It is handy when you have a picture that somehow is in the wrong orientation. You can quickly adjust that.

Now when you have made a change with either the Enhance button or the Rotate button you click Done and it will save the photo and the photo will appear like that from now on. However the original is still there. So let's click the Enhance button there. Then click Done and I am out of editing mode here. But if I go to Edit again notice that Revert to Original is still there. I click on that and I can go back.

So it is not like when you leave editing it permanently applies the changes. It will keep the original in your Photos collection, or in your iCloud Photo Library so it is in the Cloud, and you always have that original to fall back on. So this makes it real easy to make adjusts and not worry about the fact that you may need to go back to the original at some point especially if you are cropping a photo or doing some pretty extreme color adjustments.

Now let's look at some of the other things you can do. Under Crop we can adjust the borders of the photo. So we can get rid of some things out of the photo and will adjust with us there. Now notice also I can adjust the rotation right here by moving this dial. So I'm just clicking and moving it there. So there is a lot of different things that you can do here with the crop tool.

You can use the aspect ratio tool to actually go to a certain aspect ratio. So if you wanted it to be 16 x 9 for instance I can do that and you can see it will stick to 16 x 9 now that I've selected Aspect. I can free it up again by going to Custom or Freeform here and now I can adjust Freeform again.

I can also Flip the photo and I can use Automatic to try to automatically rotate and crop a photo which in this case isn't going to do anything for this particular photo but it could in another photo that has maybe something where the subject is somewhere in the middle and the background can easily be cropped or something where the horizon line is visible and it can adjust rotation to straighten the photo.

So I can leave this mode here by simply jumping to another mode. I can move the cursor over here and I can see the other modes appear. I can jump say to Filters. Filters is pretty basic. Just a small set of filters here. I assume companies can build extensions and you will get more filters here. This is the default set that comes with and we'll have to see if we actually do get more in the future.

You can also jump straight to Adjustments. This is where it gets really interesting because you've got lots of different adjustments here. It appears you just have three. Light, Color, and Black and White. You can move these dials back and forth or hit the auto button. So I can hit the auto button for color, for light, for black and white.

But I actually have a lot more than that because I can use any of these little arrows here to show me some of the sub adjustments. So I can adjust different things in black and white for instance and I have controls for everything. So under Light here I've Exposure, Highlights, Shadows, Brightness, Contrast, and Black Point. I've got lots of different things that I can do. Let me go back to the original here and you can see how I can adjust some of these specifically.

So it is all the adjustments that you had in iPhoto but instead of overwhelming you with tons of choices it just starts you off with the basics here of these three sets and allows you to go in to detail if you want.

So you also have a Retouch tool here. This gives you the circle here where you can adjust the size of the circle and you can decide to retouch something. So you can click and drag over spots to remove them. You can see I was able to easily remove that object there. The larger area that you use the worse it is going to actually work. But it still does a fairly decent job. You can also choose a source area. So I can Option Click here and do that and you can see it does a better job of painting in what I want. If you didn't know that there was something there you wouldn't really know by looking at the photo. At a glance anyway.

There is one hidden tool. That is the Red-eye tool. If you go to View you can turn this on and you get the extra Red-eye tool down here. Then you can adjust the size and use that to get rid of red-eye. Red-eye is becoming rarer and rarer in photos as cameras are getting better and better in not including red-eye.

Unfortunately there is no way to edit a photo in an external editor. I'm sure that is something we will be able to do in the future probably through the Share menu here. There could be extensions added that will allow you to go and take this photo, bring it right into say PhotoShop, and then bring it back in to Photos. It may be up to the third party developers, like Adobe for PhotoShop or Pixelmator or whoever makes the image editing app you like, to create these actions here that are in the Share menu or they may have to work with Apple to do that.

But for now what you need to do is when you have the photo there you can export the unmodified original right here and that will give you the raw one or the original photo at full resolution. Export that as a file. Put that in some folder on your desktop or in your Documents folder or your Pictures folder. Then open that up and edit in PhotoShop or whatever tool you are using and then drag and drop that finished product back into the Photos app. That is the only way to do an external edit right now.

Comments: 64 Responses to “Editing With the Photos App”

    Bob Douglass
    4/29/15 @ 9:48 am

    Thank you!
    Very nice overview of Photos App.
    Keep up the good work.

    Andrew Phair
    4/29/15 @ 11:59 am

    Fantastic. Thank you.

    Bill (William)
    4/29/15 @ 1:34 pm

    Thanks from me, too.

    4/29/15 @ 6:52 pm

    Very nice overview Gary.

    Kerrie Redgate
    4/29/15 @ 9:34 pm

    Thank you, Gary. Very clear, as usual. But if the images can’t be used in Photoshop, etc, does this mean the photos can’t be saved as jpg or png? If not, what is the format? I can’t find this on the Apple site. Thank you!

      4/29/15 @ 9:41 pm

      I’m sorry, but I think you are misunderstanding something. The images are just in their original format. Usually this is jpg for most cameras. Sometimes RAW or other formats. Photos doesn’t use a special format or anything.
      And they certainly can be used in Photoshop. Try it. What I am saying is that there is no easy “edit in an external editor” function in Photos — something that would allow you to take the photo into Photoshop and then back into Photos very easily. You just have to do it the hard way by exporting the photo to the Finder as a file. Then editing it in Photoshop. Then importing it back into Photos.

        Kerrie Redgate
        4/29/15 @ 10:20 pm

        Oh! Thank you very much, Gary. Yes, I did misunderstand that. Apologies! Thank you for your swift response, and great demo!

    4/30/15 @ 1:18 am

    Hi Gary,
    very concise and clear as always; thanks.
    My question regards the opportunity to geotag those photos that don’t have that meta-information because they have been shot with cameras that didn’t offer that feature yet.
    Differently from iphoto, I don’t see this option available in the new Photo app; is that the case?
    Thanks in advance for your guidance!

      4/30/15 @ 5:27 am

      Right. There is no way to do that in Photos. Request it as a feature from Apple if you want it.

    Mike Goodman
    4/30/15 @ 3:38 am

    Hi Gary, as ever great tutorial. I notice, however, that when you attempt to delete an image, it no longer goes into the trash bin. Having deleted a number of photos in this new way, I’ve found that memory space is no longer freed up as before. I’d be interested to hear your comments concerning this.

      4/30/15 @ 5:28 am

      Choose File, Show Recently Deleted to manage the Photos “Trash.”

    Mike Goodman
    4/30/15 @ 7:28 am

    Yes, I’ve done that already. A message appears, ‘Are you sure that you want to permanently delete these photos’ and when you do so they disappear, but not as before into the trash.
    The point I was trying to make, is that having done this with many photos it does not seem to free up any more memory!

      4/30/15 @ 7:32 am

      The “Recently Deleted Photos” IS the trash. Not sure what you are looking for here — a second tier trash?
      As for freeing up storage, I’m not sure. Perhaps you need to wait for clean-up to occur. Did you try quitting and restarting Photos? How are you determining whether storage (I assume you mean storage, not memory) is being freed? Just checking the Photos library file size?

    Mike Goodman
    4/30/15 @ 7:54 am

    Yes, I’ll try that. However, I’m sure that in iPhoto when you cleared the trash from the application it went directly to the trash bin in the dock, which you then had to empty a second time. This, obviously is no longer the case.
    Many Thanks for your help!

      4/30/15 @ 8:03 am

      Right. That makes sense considering how putting items into your local Finder’s trash for confuse things when it came to iCloud.

    4/30/15 @ 8:15 am

    Hi, since migrating to Photos, I now find that I have both a Photos library as well as the old iPhoto library (both of which are around 10 Gb.) Is it safe for me to delete the old iPhoto library, as it is likely to contain the same photographs?

      4/30/15 @ 8:18 am

      Yes. I would archive it (good to do on a regular basis anyway) before deleting it.

    4/30/15 @ 8:28 am

    As always another great help video. I feel much better about Photos now, Thanks.

    4/30/15 @ 8:29 am

    So, am I right in thinking that these are duplicates of the same photos in the old iPhoto library that were transferred during the migration process.

      4/30/15 @ 8:50 am

      Right. The Old iPhoto library wasn’t deleted (could you imagine the outcry if Photos did that?). So once you run Photos for the first time and it converts your iPhoto library to your Photos library, you end up with the old and the new. I archived my old iPhoto library (why not, hard drive space is cheap and it is a good idea to archive your photo library occasionally anyway) and then deleted it.

    Jim Goddard
    4/30/15 @ 8:34 am

    Great Info!

    4/30/15 @ 8:51 am

    Thanks a lot. Appreciate your assistance!

    Paul Reber
    4/30/15 @ 9:09 am

    Thanks Gary. Great job. Enjoy your vids very much. Paul

    Scott Beattie
    4/30/15 @ 9:27 am

    Hi Gary – Just curious to know if there is any type of editing option to magnify a portion of a photo. I can do this in “Preview” using the Loupe tool from within the shapes menu of the markup tool bar. I find that I am using the magnify feature a lot – and it would be nice if it were available within Photos app. Just making sure I am not missing something obvious.

      4/30/15 @ 9:30 am

      There is no loupe tool, but you can certainly magnify the whole image to view a portion using the slider in the toolbar or the keyboard shortcuts.

    Andy Clark
    4/30/15 @ 9:46 am

    Hi Gary, As always a really useful and informative piece. Really appreciate this introduction to editing in the Photos app. Thank you!

    John Vertolli
    4/30/15 @ 9:49 am

    Hi Gary- Does the IPAD have both the photos library and the iPhotos library on it now as well as my Macbook? I noticed my memory on the iPad took a huge hit when I updated my iPad to photos. If so, does archiving my iPhotos library on the Macbook solve this or is there an iPad fix?

      4/30/15 @ 10:00 am

      With iPhoto the photos didn’t exist in the cloud. The way you put them on your iPad would be to sync through iTunes. You can still do that with Photos, but it is unnecessary. Do one or the other, but not both. Check in iTunes to see if you are still syncing from iPhoto (or Photos).

    Donna Gordon
    4/30/15 @ 10:39 am

    Very clear and concise. Thank you. I always enjoy your videos.

    Dan McNeil
    4/30/15 @ 12:23 pm

    Very nice video, Gary. One thing I’ve noticed is that when I am editing using adjustments the only choice in undoing a single adjustment change is to revert back to before any adjustments were done. I clicked on B&W accidently but to undo that adjustment only was not doable. If I made all the color and/or light adjustments that I wanted, how could I keep them in place if I just wanted to experiment with B&W. Thanks for your easy to follow tips.

      4/30/15 @ 12:46 pm

      Filters don’t need to be undoable simply because they are like switches — you turn them on or off. Turn on “Mono” and then click “Mono” again to turn it off. Or, just click “None.”

        Dan McNeil
        4/30/15 @ 3:31 pm

        Thanks Gary. A little more exploring on my part, but I see the solution now to my question/concern. Very clear, helpful & useful.

    4/30/15 @ 1:56 pm

    That was very interesting Gary…what a gorgeous dog! Love him.

    4/30/15 @ 4:11 pm

    Love your videos. Very helpful. I am trying to figure out how to get to the original photos. I want to do a photo album and I copied photos from an album (ported over from an event in iPhoto) but all I got was a small copy with “Thumb” in front of photo name. This, of course isn’t large enough to make a dent photo in an album. Suggestions?

      4/30/15 @ 4:13 pm

      Drag and drop out of Photos will work for most things.

        4/30/15 @ 4:24 pm

        Thanks, will give that a try.

    Norm Dinger
    4/30/15 @ 6:07 pm

    Gary. I find the Edit tool to be not as good as in iPhoto due to the fact each photo has to be clicked Done after being edited. Then you have to open the Edit tool again for the next Photo. In iPhoto you could still stay in the same Edit mode and just move to the next photo without clicking Done. Your comment on this would be appreciated.
    Thanks Norm.

      4/30/15 @ 6:31 pm

      Watch the video again. I show you exactly how to edit multiple photos quickly right at the beginning (0:20 to 0:45).

        Norm Dinger
        4/30/15 @ 7:35 pm

        Thanks for that. I was clicking done after each photo. Norm.

    Scott Griswold
    4/30/15 @ 7:40 pm

    Gary thank you..I have not switched yet.. How do I archive my iPhoto and will it still be like it is now? and still usable. will it just archive a copy of the iPhoto in its entire setup as it is? 36k plus photos

      4/30/15 @ 7:46 pm

      I would just archive your iPhoto library. Take the whole file and put it on an external drive or however you prefer to archive things. Leave iPhoto (the app) where it is.

    Dave H
    4/30/15 @ 8:16 pm

    Thank you for your sage advice. One annoying feature I’ve found since I’ve downloaded my first photos onto Photo – I take RAW images and process them in my computer – previously in iPhoto. Each time I move to the next photo I have to re-select the editing tools that I want access to. This slows the process of editing CONSIDERABLY and is very annoying. Any idea how I can “lock in” the editing tools I want access to?

      4/30/15 @ 8:37 pm

      When I move from photo to photo the way I do in the first minute of the video, the editing tools stay the same.

    Dave H
    4/30/15 @ 8:20 pm

    One small additional point – if I migrate my photos ( RAW files plus metadata) from iPhoto to Photo, will it transfer the metadata without me having to re- edit all my photos?

      4/30/15 @ 8:38 pm

      Seems like all of the metadata stays the same. Try it and see.

    5/1/15 @ 7:13 am

    Hi Gary, i echo the others about the very informative video. My question is how do I delete duplicate photos? for some reason they do pop up when syncing.
    is there a way to do it without going one by one.? idid try a third party app but no luck with photos.

      5/1/15 @ 7:16 am

      If you are using iCloud to store your photos, you shouldn’t also be importing them in when syncing. There’s no “automatic” way to delete duplicates — Photos tells me when I try to import a duplicate and makes me confirm that I want to do it. I would start by investigating why you are getting duplicates and change that process/behavior. Then manually go through your photos to make sure you are deleting the duplicates carefully.

    Scott Beattie
    5/3/15 @ 11:42 am

    Hi Gary – Is there any way to change the location information of a photo – if it is incorrect – or missing? Scenario 1 – I import a photo that has no GPS data – and I want to assign a location to the photo. Scenario 2 (GPS data is wrong and not sure why) – I have 40 photos showing as Lake George, CO and they should say Longmont, CO. (All photos with the wrong GPS data were taken in the same location). I am pretty sure I could do this in iPhoto. Info pane in Photos doesn’t allow change.

      5/3/15 @ 11:59 am

      No, there is no way to do that in Photos. Request that as a feature from Apple if you want it.

        Scott Beattie
        5/3/15 @ 12:11 pm

        Thanks for clarifying. I think I will request this feature. It’s like the GPS info was incorrect on the day the photos were taken (because the location was incorrect back when I took the photos and always showed the wrong location even before Photos (but never got around to researching or addressing it back in iPhoto).

        Scott Beattie
        5/3/15 @ 4:33 pm

        Well – If somebody else is having this particular issue – (in my case it was 52 photos with incorrect location info) – what I did to work around the issue was to open the old iPhoto library (with iPhoto) – use iPhoto to correct the location of all 52 photos – then export them as JPEG including new location info – maximum resolution – then import the photos into Photos app. Then delete the originals with the wrong location info. This took some time and was an acceptable fix for me – but painful

    Dave H
    5/6/15 @ 9:22 pm

    Is it possible to place my Photo library on an external hard drive. like I was able to do in iPhoto? Not sure that I want to store all my photos on iCloud, where my continued access is dependent on my paying for the storage for ever and a day! Also downloading my entire library of photos will use a heck of a lot of data.

      5/6/15 @ 9:26 pm

      Yes, you can move the library anywhere you want and choose not to use iCloud if you wish.

        Dave H
        5/7/15 @ 5:56 pm

        Thank you for that – how does one open a new library on an external hard drive? iPhoto allowed one to swop between libraries and locations and start a new library but I don’t see an equivalent in Photo

          5/7/15 @ 6:01 pm

          Hold down the Option key and launch Photos.

            Dave H
            5/7/15 @ 8:56 pm

            Wohoo – it works! Thank you . It isn’t very intuitive! :>)

    Bill Hartman
    5/7/15 @ 2:54 pm

    Why the the change to this new software??? Seems to me Aperture was better for all editing tasks

    Bill Hartman
    5/7/15 @ 2:57 pm

    Why this new and “improved” software? Seems to me that Aperture was much better for editing functions than this new ap.

      5/7/15 @ 3:03 pm

      I’m not Apple. You’ll have to ask the heads of Apple for a real answer. But Photos does do one thing that Aperture didn’t — it syncs and stores all of your photos in the cloud. Huge feature for many people, including me. It is also easier to use than Aperture. Maybe not for you, but I can certainly see it is going to be easier to use for a lot of people.
      As a developer, I can see that Apple is trying to get out of the “software must be everything to all people” business and instead create easy-to-use consumer software that will work for most people, while leaving pro-level software to other companies. Why should Apple compete with Lightroom/Photoshop when their mission is to sell hardware?

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