Comparing Images

by Ben Long

A friend called a couple of weeks ago with an Aperture workflow question. As we worked our way through her problem I finally realized that part of what was complicating her methodology was that she wasn't using one of Aperture's core features. Just a few days after that, I was talking to another Aperture user and found the same curious gap in their knowledge and then, at a recent talk I discovered still more people with the same deficiency.

All of this led me to sit bolt upright in the middle of the night, with a terrible thought: "Am I the only one who uses Aperture's Compare mode?!"

I can only hope that I've experienced a bad sample. If that's true and you're all wantonly using the Compare feature, then just skip right ahead to the next entry. If not, then this is a feature you'll want to know about.

If you select any image in Aperture, and then press Return, you will enter Compare mode. The image you selected will shift to the left-most side of your Viewer, and will be bordered with a yellowish-orange rectangle. That image is now your compare source. The next image in your project will automatically appear to the right.


You can use the Loupe and Zoom features to compare the two images. If you like the righthand image more than the compare source, press Return and that image will become the new compare source, and the next image in your project will be selected. If you don't like the righthand image better than the compare source, use the arrow keys to navigate to the next image. In this way, you can quickly run through a bunch of images, comparing one to the other, and progressively selecting the best image.

When you're all finished and have a compare source that you like best, press Option-Return to exit Compare mode. Your last compare source will remain selected, meaning you can now easily add a select rating or start editing.

If your images are stacked, you can use Stack mode, which operates in a similar fashion. The great thing about Compare mode is that it doesn't require you to stack, and you can easily enter it at any time just by pressing Return. It will work anywhere in Aperture - even when building a book or web page.


2006-12-27 18:15:09
Nice feature...
It's good that there's someone pointing these great shortcuts for us who are too busy
taking photos. Thanks...
2006-12-28 18:24:49
This is why I visit this site on the regular basis.
2006-12-31 11:26:49
Excellent. Did not know this.

2007-01-11 18:45:20
Wow. I'm amazed too that people don't know about this feature: it was what made me decided to get Aperture to begin with!
Rob Hyndman
2007-01-15 07:53:25
I had no idea. Great tool, and a very helpful post - thanks!
2007-01-15 14:01:45
Great tip! Thanks. I had no idea either.