Mac Photos App Tips and Tricks

The Mac Photos app has lots of different functions that make viewing and editing your photos easier. Learn about some of the hidden tricks in Photos such as the sidebar, viewing photo titles, editing dates, adding keywords, copying editing adjustments, exporting the original file and much more.

Video Transcript
Hi, this is Gary with On this episode let's take a look at some power user tips for the new Mac Photos App.

So my first tip is to turn on the sidebar. People get lost in this interface and can't quite figure out how to navigate around. It is much easier if you do View, Show Sidebar. You've got a sidebar that looks a lot like iPhoto. You can quickly and easily jump to Albums, jump to Photos, and see other things as well as drag and drop. You can drag and drop a photo very easily here with the sidebar turned on.

When viewing photos, your entire photo library, the top level is Years. You can go down into Collections and then Moments. Now the top two levels, Collections and Years, you can click and hold over a strip of photos and you will see an enlarged version of that photo and can easily find the one you want, release, and it will jump right to that photo. So it makes it very easy to find a photo even though you might be viewing tons of them and jump right to it.

Now a lot of people mistakingly thought that Photos doesn't have titles for photos like iPhoto did. That is wrong.
If you go down into Moments where you can see individual photos, or even jump to an Album where you see them in a similar view, you can see the titles by going to View, Metadata, and turn on Titles. There is even a keyboard shortcut for that. Then you can see titles for different things.

So, for instance, here is a title there. I can turn off with the keyboard shortcut titles and you can see how it goes away. If I want to add a title I simply click right underneath it where it says untitled and I can add it or I can edit the one that is there. So it is very easy to see and edit titles in Photo. It is just not on by default. You just have to turn it on.

Now what happens when you delete a photo? Say I'm going to select this photo here. I'm going to hit the delete key on my keyboard and delete and you can see because it is syncing with iCloud that it says it is deleted from all devices.

You do have a trashcan. You are not using your Mac's trashcan because it is now using iCloud. It is going to sync to all your different devices so it wouldn't be right to put it in your local trashcan. It is in an iCloud trashcan. You can view it by going to File, Show Recently Deleted. It brings up kind of a special album here which shows you recently deleted photos.

You can see that I've got several in here spanning some time. It tells me how many days are left before they are permanently deleted. So the one I've just deleted here in thirty days it will be permanently gone and I don't have to do anything else.
I've got some older ones here that will be deleted pretty soon. If I want something to go away now, permanently, I can select it here in the recently deleted view and I can hit Delete One Item. Now it gives me a warning and now it is gone for good. So I've pushed it forward instead of waiting that many days.

I can also, of course, select one here and hit Recover and it will undelete it and put it back where it came from.

Now Photos doesn't really have that many sorting options but you can manually sort an Album. So I've created an album here called test album. I've put some photos in it. I go to View and I've selected Keep Sorted By Date. So there is nothing else I can do. They will be sorted from the earliest to the latest.

If I uncheck that now you can see it goes to a manually sorted order and I can drag and drop as much as I want and this will be the order they appear in. It will remember this even if I say Sorted By Date and then I turn off Sorted By Date it goes back to my manual sorting. So you can't sort by titles or anything like that but you can kind of create your own order if you plan on doing a slide show or you want some special photos available on your iPhone say or Apple Watch, you can sort them the way you want.

Now if you need to adjust the date on a photo you can. You can select a photo, go to Image, Adjust Date and Time. This will allow me then to go take from an original and make an adjusted date and time, change the time zone, for this photo here. So it is nice to be able to do. What would be nicer is if you could also change the GPS information but it doesn't appear to be a way to do that currently in Photos. Hopefully that will be added in a future update.

One of the nice things about editing photos in the Photos app is that you can apply all sorts of different changes to the photo and no matter how much you do you can always get back to the original. So I'm just going to do a ton of different things to this photo and now I'm going to click Done. You may think that well now the changes are permanently applied.

I can go to Edit and even though it is a new editing session I can hit Revert to Original and it takes me all the way back to the original photo. So that is always available to you.

Now how about exporting from Photos. Well, as you might guess you can Drag and Drop. So I can take this photo here and drag it to the desktop or to a Finder folder and it exports a jpeg. But I can also do some other things.

I can go to File, Export. I've got my standard export option which is what I basically just did. But I can also export the unmodified original. This will hold the original out of the library and allow me to save it. So, for instance, if you are using raw format for your photography you can get raw image out that way if you need it for something.

If you want to share a bunch of pictures with somebody online and say you want to make a slideshow and put it on youtube you can export a slideshow as a video. I've selected a test album here. I'm then going to create a slideshow and it will create this project here called test album. It's got the slideshow here. I can do all the things I want to adjust for the slideshow like timing and music and things like that. But I can also hit the export button here at the top and I can choose as a format a video format, save out a video that will include the music and everything like that. Once I have that video I can then upload that to youtube via the youtube web interface or any video service that I want.

Another cool editing thing to do is that you can go into a photo and say apply a bunch of filters or maybe do some adjustments. So let's do some lighting adjustments here and then a filter adjustment, and hit Done. Now I can go in and edit it again because I like how these filters look and copy those adjustments. Then I can go to another photo and apply the same adjustments when I'm in Edit mode. It will give me the same result. So it is easy to take a set of changes that you made and apply them on another image.

So here is one last tip. You can get info on a photo. You can select it and bring up the Info Window, and Command I is info, and you can see basic stuff about like the camera settings and things like that. Also you add a description. You can't really view that anywhere else except for here in the info window. You can also add keywords. So I can add say Denver and then skyline to this and you can view these keywords if you go to View, Metadata, and turn on Keywords. You can see a little keyword tag there and I can click it and I can see Denver and skyline there in the keywords and of course these are searchable. So now if I were to search for skyline I would see that it would come up with one result there because I have tagged it.

So you can use Keyword tags. You even have a window here where you can bring up a Keyword manager that shows you the keywords you've added and some basic ones and you can edit them as well. So this can come in very useful for tagging your photos for quick and easy searches.

Comments: 51 Responses to “Mac Photos App Tips and Tricks”

    5/6/15 @ 10:17 am

    I have been watching many videos on the new photo app. I haven’t yet moved my photos from aperture. What if I decide I want to keep using Aperture rather than the photos app. I do not use icloud to back up any of my info. I also do not use photo streaming because of the way it organizes my photos on my Mac. Am I going to have a problem later on if I continue to manually import my photos and continue using Aperture? Thanks for all the great videos. K

      5/6/15 @ 10:21 am

      You can always give it a try. Converting to Photos doesn’t destroy your old library, so you can convert and then play around with it for a few hours to see what it is like.
      Aperture is no longer supported, so eventually you’ll run into trouble.

        5/6/15 @ 6:34 pm

        Thank you for getting back to me so quick. If I do switch to the Photos App do I need to use iCloud to back up my photos (3000+) or do I just need to turn photo streaming on. K

          5/6/15 @ 6:50 pm

          You don’t need to use iCloud. You can just store your photos on your drive like you do with iPhoto or Aperture. Of course, that’s the best feature of Photos, but you don’t need to use it. Photo Stream is a different thing, however. That’s been around for a while — it is just your most recent photos. iCloud Photo Library is ALL of your photos.

    Michel McNinch
    5/6/15 @ 8:15 pm

    Thank you for these tips. Very helpful. I use your video iPhoto Independent Web Galleries (MacMost Now 711) all the time to update my website. Will I still be able to use it?

      5/6/15 @ 8:42 pm

      That’s not in Photos, of course, but Photos has new iCloud photo galleries that may work for you. Otherwise, I would look for a new solution, probably server-side.

    5/7/15 @ 6:46 am

    Thanks Gary – some great tips. It would have taken me ages to find some of the features you show here. Much appreciated.

    5/7/15 @ 8:17 am

    Thanks so much (once again) Gary for such a helpful video. I haven’t emigrated out of iPhoto yet as I’ve been waiting for something like this to guide me first – so I’m almost ready :-) My question is do you happen to know if the photos that I have edited in iPhoto over the years would still be able to revert to the original photos when they are in the Photo app? Thanks.

      5/7/15 @ 8:19 am

      I’m not sure. I think so. But it will be easy to test when you move to Photos. If it doesn’t, then you can always access them in your old iPhoto library (it doesn’t destroy it).

        5/7/15 @ 1:31 pm

        Thanks Gary – much appreciated – will soon find out! :-)

    5/7/15 @ 8:21 am

    wish they had a Maps menu on the sidebar to show an overview of where photos where taken, I have a first-generation iPad (that still has a great battery life) and it does show photos on a map. I know you can click on the location and show where the photo was taken for each photo, but I think would be nice to have the Map option. Thanks for all your tutorials

      5/7/15 @ 8:24 am

      But there is a Map view. When viewing Photos (not an album), in Years, Collections or Moments view, just click on the location about each year/collection/moment and it takes you to a map.

        7/8/15 @ 7:37 am

        I agreed with Nick. iPhoto used to have a map that shows all pin where all photos were taken as an overview. Not map for individual photo/ collection / moment

    Philip Lewis
    5/7/15 @ 8:54 am

    Hi Gary. Great video as usual, thanks! I love Photos but one thing iPhoto had which Photos doesn’t is Batch Change where you could title a bunch of photos with one action……..or have I missed it?

      5/7/15 @ 9:20 am

      No batch change in Photos. But the whole idea of “Titles” isn’t used as much in Photos anyway.

    5/7/15 @ 8:57 am

    thanks gary for great videos.i have now nervously migrated to photos.just cant find “events” it there somewhere?
    or do i have to somehow move them to the albums tab.
    slightly confused here.

      5/7/15 @ 9:20 am

      There are no “Events” in Photos. Events was just a way of breaking up your photos list. In the new app you have Years/Collections/Moments to break up your photos list. If you want something else, then you need to use albums.
      If you have carefully organized events in iPhoto, you should see them appear now as albums in a folder named “iPhoto Events.”

        5/7/15 @ 1:43 pm

        Gary in iPhoto I have my 25,000 pics carefully organised into 193 Events. The photos in those Events are not in date order – I organise my photos in those Events folders by category not the date they were taken. When I move over to the Photos app will I simply find a folder named “iPhoto Events” and it will contain my 193 events, all with the same event title that I gave them in iPhoto?
        Thanks again.

    Linda Taylor
    5/7/15 @ 11:34 am

    One feature that seems to be missing is Faces. Is it hanging around in the background somewhere or has it been eliminated? Thanks for all you do!

      5/7/15 @ 12:15 pm

      Faces is there. You can access it many ways. Choose View, Show Face Names to get started.

        Gordon Stallings
        7/15/15 @ 7:49 pm

        Gary, I always find your videos interesting and useful.
        Faces seems to be missing features that were present in iPhoto. For one thing, the display of faces is sorted by frequency! Is there any way to sort alphabetically? Also, the facial recognition is apparently gone. Am I correct or is there some way to get Photos to guess faces like iPhoto used to?

          7/15/15 @ 8:16 pm

          I haven’t really played with Faces in Photos much yet. But it seems you can easily re-arrange the face icons by dragging and dropping. You also get a “X may be in additional photos” followed by an “Add” button when viewing photos of a person from the Faces interface, assuming that there are more photos it can suggest.

    Linda DesGroseilliers
    5/7/15 @ 2:08 pm

    Another wonderful video tutorial! I’m going to have to watch several times, but I’d never have found these things on my own!

    William Taylor
    5/7/15 @ 2:13 pm

    In Photos, I don’t like that they took away the option to mix up the order in the slideshow feature. Also the music option is changed. Can’t turn it off or use your own music.

      5/7/15 @ 2:16 pm

      You can do both of those things: set the order to whatever you want, and use your own music. Or, use no music. Play around with it a little more and you’ll see.

        William Taylor
        5/7/15 @ 2:33 pm

        I just checked and in my albums there are up to 10,000 pics, so I can’t rearrange the order in each album to make a random slideshow. It always starts at the first one. The old slideshow allowed a random feature. I did figure the music. Thanks.

          5/7/15 @ 2:36 pm

          Ah, random. In the original question you just said “mix up” and I assumed you wanted to set the order.

    Praveen S Battepati
    5/7/15 @ 7:17 pm

    Dear Mr Gary, I am big follower of your macmost ! How to change titles of photos in batches .. I am unable to find batch change in new Mac photo app! Kindly guide ..
    Warm Regards
    Dr Praveen

      5/7/15 @ 7:20 pm

      There is no batch title change function in Photos. What do you need it for? The titles are just a way for you to label the photos. A “batch” suggests giving them similar titles. What are you trying to do, exactly?

    5/8/15 @ 6:36 am

    Good video as usual. Thanks.
    I have migrated my iphoto library into photo library but now have several libraries available when accessing photo with option key. These albums all contain lots of data and appear to be duplicates. How can I delete these duplicate albums without losing any photos?
    I also am using an external drive to store photos. How can I get the new photo app to default to an external drive?

      5/8/15 @ 6:52 am

      Sounds like you have a lot going on there and need to proceed with caution. You can put your Photos libraries anywhere you want by just moving them in the Finder (with Photos closed, of course). But if you are using multiple libraries you need to figure out what is in which one and how you want to handle things. There can be only one “system library” that syncs with iCloud, BTW.
      If they are really duplicates, then of course you can get rid of them. But first I would carefully figure that out. Hard to advise further without being there to examine them.

    5/10/15 @ 11:04 am

    Looks like it doesn’t have the e-mail themes feature that iPhoto had?

      5/10/15 @ 12:08 pm

      No. Photos just hooks into Mail for email, it doesn’t do it independently anymore.

    5/10/15 @ 10:57 pm

    Do you if the app can do sharpening?

      5/11/15 @ 6:03 am

      Yes. Edit a Photo. Click on the Adjustments icon. Next to the title “Adjustments” click Add. Then choose Sharpen.

    5/11/15 @ 7:24 pm

    Can we delete the iPhotos app now that we have the Photos app on the Mac? When I plug my phone into the Mac, iPhotos still opens and tries to import photos, but they are already on the iCloud. I figured out how to stop automatically opening iPhotos in Image Capture, but is there a reason to keep the iPhotos app at all? It is taking 1.4 GB on my hard drive I am fine keeping all my photos in the cloud.

      5/11/15 @ 7:29 pm

      You can delete it, but for most people I wouldn’t rush it. Many people have archives old iPhoto libraries and backups. iPhoto could come in handy in those cases.

    Jeff M.
    5/12/15 @ 10:45 am

    I am using the new Photos app on my Mac. I am not using iCloud Photos, instead , I am using an external hard drive to store my photos and using the Photo’s app to access them.

    The question I have is about the Photo Stream. Previously, in iPhoto, it would download all the photo’s in my stream to the hard drive and create an Event with the Month/PhotoStream label on it.

    Does the new Photo’s app download the pictures from my Photo Stream to the external hard drive automatically?

      5/12/15 @ 10:53 am

      Not sure, as I’m using iCloud Photo library, not Photo Stream. But look and see what it does. Test it. You’ll be able to see what is happening soon enough. My guess is that you have to do it manually like before.

    K. N. Ghiglione
    5/14/15 @ 12:54 pm

    Thanks for this. I was a little stumped with finding my way through this. One thing I am still trying to figure out is how do I add a title? On your video in both collections and moments… I can see the date AND – in a lighter grey – I can see a description. I know we can add titles to an individual picture… underneath the picture. BUT, how do I add that short description beside the the date. Thanks for your help.

      5/14/15 @ 2:05 pm

      Beside the date? Do you mean the location? That’s just the location taken from the GPS data in the photos.

    Adele Miller
    5/16/15 @ 3:01 pm

    Will I need to transfer my IPhotos to the new photos program? I have two albums-the old and the new.
    I am not using Icloud or photo stream, because I take many pictures and keep needing more storage space.

      5/16/15 @ 3:37 pm

      Well, iPhoto is no longer supported by Apple and will continue to grow old and outdated. Eventually, it will cease to work on some version of OS X and some new Macs. Meanwhile, Photos will get new features and continue to evolve. So my recommendation is to upgrade when you get a chance. Trying new and exciting software is part of the fun of owning a computer! And although you may not use iCloud for your photos now, the future is clearly to go this way and have your photos available to you everywhere.

    Michael Bernstein
    5/28/15 @ 1:58 pm

    Hello Mr. Macmost!!! Dear Gary, you are a great help to all of us. Thank you!!!
    I use imovie a lot to creat slide shows using my photos that I organize by albums in iphoto. When I updated to photo, most of my movies stoped working. I am not sure if this is related or not. Imovie retained all settings for the slide shows but all photos are gone. I made sure I am pointing to the correct photo library which is on the external drive. You think the upgrade to photo might be related? Thank you.

      5/28/15 @ 3:05 pm

      So you are talking about older iMovie project that link to photos stored in your old iPhoto library? As long as you did not delete the old iPhoto library you should be OK.

    Michael Bernstein
    5/29/15 @ 11:05 pm

    Yes, all photos are there (in new photo under albums) however, when i open older iMovie projects (slide shows created in iMovie or trailers ), projects are all there with titales and transitions but they don’t have photos or clips attached. Just black screan with “missing file” message.

      5/30/15 @ 6:26 am

      But are they there in iPhoto? If you created the iMovie projects using photos from your iPhoto library (not the new Photos library) then iMovie will look for them in the iPhoto library and it won’t have anything to do with the Photos library.

    Michael Bernstein
    6/3/15 @ 11:55 pm

    Thank you Gary!
    I don’t have iPhoto app after update. I was thinking to download it again from App Store but it’s not there.

      6/4/15 @ 6:09 am

      Are you sure? The only way that you could be missing iPhoto after the update is if you deleted it yourself. Make sure you are looking in the right place.
      If you did delete it yourself, you can get it back by going to the Purchases page in the Mac App Store and you’ll find it there as a previous purchase that you can download.

    Michael Bernstein
    6/4/15 @ 9:56 am

    Purchases I have not tried. Will do.
    I think overall this update/upgrade was not very friendly.
    I loved all apple because it “just worked”. A little frustrated.
    We are all blessed That you are here to talk to us and to guide us! :)

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