Stop Using Albums To Organize Your Photos

Most people use albums to organize their photos in the Mac Photos app. However, it makes more sense to use Keywords instead of albums. You can create a Smart Album with any Keyword. But instead of Smart Albums, which can't be seen on iOS, you can simply search for a Keyword to view those photos just as if they were an album. You can also search for words in titles and descriptions, making them useful for organizing as well.

Comments: 20 Responses to “Stop Using Albums To Organize Your Photos”

    Cesar Reyes
    2 months ago

    I see how keywords are awesome, but why are the better than normal albums? Because they’re searchable?

    2 months ago

    Cesar: You can add 400 keywords without clutter, but 400 albums would be a mess. You can see which keywords a photos has, but not which albums it is in. You can quickly add keywords to new photos. Scrolling through lots of albums and dragging and dropping into albums is tougher.

    Cesar Reyes
    2 months ago

    Ah! Got it, you talked about that but it didn’t really click I guess…. genius! Thanks!

    Jim
    2 months ago

    I’m not about to go back & add keywords to over 180,000 photos! That would be an enormous task. Albums make far better sense to me.

    David Bybee
    2 months ago

    Thanks. I wouldn’t go back and try to change out alll the albums I have. But this is definitely the way to go forward. Wish could add keywords on iPad and iPhone though. Was literally thinking about starting a couple of new albums when your newsletter cam through.

    John Carter
    2 months ago

    I have a number of images with telescopes in them from different places. I used the “telescope” keyword in iOS and got a lot of them (maybe all), but one image was only of a nebula. I looked at the info in Photos on the Mac and there is no word “telescope” in the metadata. The keyword for that photo is “Astronomy Photos.” 184 photos were found in iOS. Do the same search on the Mac and that image is not included there. Only 132 photos were found on the Mac. So I guess nothing is perfect, eh?

    Jennifer
    1 month ago

    Thank you!!! How do you organize the keywords. I started keywords a long time ago and have multi keywords.

    1 month ago

    Jennifer: Do you mean in the Keyword Manager? They are in alphabetical order.

    Nick
    1 month ago

    hi Gary, great idea. I’m currently using Albums and I can see how creating lots of albums can be mess. I really like your suggestion of Smart Albums, and given that I don’t use iCloud to store all my photos (other than couple shared albums), I don’t need to see all my photos on portable devices, would you say Smart Albums are the way to go for the Mac?

    1 month ago

    Nick: Give them a try. It is easy to select all the photos in an existing album and apply a keyword to them. Then create a Smart Album from that keyword. You can make the switch pretty easily and still have your old Albums around while you see if you like it.

    Nick
    1 month ago

    don’t see an option to use Location in Keywords to add another filter for a Smart album…unless I missed it

    Rene-Pierre
    1 month ago

    Hi Gary, This information came in just in time as I was preparing to create more albums. My issue now is how do I keep them in some sort of sequence other than chronological. I want to make a presentation with say 50 photos how do I identify/mark/tag them so they will come out in the desired sequence not chronological or by title?

    GazzaDownUnder
    1 month ago

    @Rene-Pierre … I believe once you have photos within a Album, you can manually move the photos into your preferred order. Tip: I create a smart album on my Mac then I use those photos within the smart album to create a basic Album (or folder). When finished with project I just delete the basic Album. But before I do I tag the photos with a unique keyword so that if needed in the future I can recreate the album in seconds. 🤗

    nick
    1 month ago

    Gary: I have an old hard drive with thousands of photos. I was avoiding importing them into my already large photo library on my Mac. Is there an option to have more than one photo library? If there is, would it be possible to store the Photos library on that external drive so it’s only available when I have it plugged in? I was thinking of avoiding bloating my main hard drive on the Mac. Thank you

    1 month ago

    nick: You can do those things. You can have more than one library, but then you have to switch libraries all the time and can’t view them at the same time. You can also choose to keep the photos external to the library. https://macmost.com/using-referenced-photos-to-exclude-photos-from-icloud.html is not exactly about what you want to do, but it is close.
    Also, you can just have them as files. I have a video on that coming soon.
    You have lots of options.

    nick
    1 month ago

    thanks Gary, looking forward to that video (and all the others:)

    Warren Marquez
    1 month ago

    Question: How do I find photos with NO keywords? I checked Smart Albums and there isn’t a way I can figure out. Thank you!

    Also, I admit I use a combination of both regular albums and keywords. I tend towards using albums to organize by specific events (a street fair I went to, a parade) and using keywords for subject categories (festivals).

    1 month ago

    Warren: It isn’t easy to do that. I have a solution here: https://macmost.com/using-javascript-to-find-photos-without-keywords.html

    Adrian Hayes
    1 week ago

    Hi Gary
    Thanks as ever for your invaluable help.
    How do I delete an empty album on my iPad? When I tap Edit the bin icon is greyed out.

    1 week ago

    Adrian: Make sure you are not IN the album when you do that. Then the bin is gray because there is nothing in there to select and delete. You should be up one level, at the albums level. Then tap See All to go to the complete list of albums. Then tap Edit own that screen and red circle – buttons appear at the top left corner of each album.

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