Image Tooltips and an External Editor Refresher

by Charlie Miller

I’ve been teaching introductory Aperture courses lately, so I thought I’d share some tips based on questions I’ve been hearing again and again. Last weekend at an AUPN workshop in Dallas I had three students ask the same question: how do you turn off the floating HUD that appears when you mouse over thumbnails in the Browser?

They were asking about the Image Tooltips HUD, which can be quite useful to get quick at-a-glance info about a photo in the Browser. But the beauty of this HUD is that it can be toggled on and off quickly; it can be pretty annoying if it keeps popping up whenever you move your mouse across the Browser. It can quickly be toggled on and off by going up to the View menu and choosing Image Tooltips, or even quicker, by pressing the T key.


The other topic that has been coming up repeatedly in my Aperture workshops is confusion around the master/version relationship, specifically when photos are sent to Photoshop via the Open with External Editor command. So, a quick review: the external editor is defined in Aperture’s preferences, under the Output section. This is where the editor is selected and an external editor file format is defined. I use Photoshop CS3 and 300dpi TIFF. When you select an image and choose Images -> Open with External Editor, Aperture creates a new master (leaving the original unchanged), converts it to the chosen file format, and then opens the image file in the selected external editor. It’s important to remember that the new image file is tracked as a new master file and gets stacked with the original master file.

When the image is saved in Photoshop, the changes are reflected back in Aperture, and the image thumbnail gets badged in the lower right corner with a small target badge. But what happens if we want to send that image back to Photoshop to continue our edit?


This is where things can get a little tricky. If no further adjustments have been made to the image in Aperture, the same TIFF Master will be sent to Photoshop when we choose Edit with External Editor. All layers, channels, and masks will remain intact. However, if we attempt to make any adjustments to the TIFF master in Aperture, a new version of that master will be created. And regardless of whether the original master is managed or referenced, this version will be another TIFF file that’s stored in the Aperture library.

The diagram below illustrates how Aperture uses badges to give us information about where these images came from:


Image 1 is the original RAW master file stored as a referenced image in my library. Image 2 is the TIFF that was created when I chose Edit with External Editor. Image 3 shows what happens when I apply an adjustment to Image 2 in Aperture: a new version is created and the target badge gets replaced with a standard adjustment badge. Finally, Image 4 shows what happens when I select Image 3 and send it back to an external editor: another master TIFF is created and badged with the target icon.


Paul Perton
2007-09-23 00:02:29
Nice observations about the external editor and how Aperture manages files. Simple question; does anyone have any idea how I can make Aperture swap (without using the Prefs dialogue) between Photoshop and LightZone as a target external editor?

Sometimes, I want LZ's image editing and (as Aperture's spotting tool is glacial at best) to use PS' healing and cloning tools. Changing the Pref every time is a pain and generates yet more copies of the file - and worse, it breaks into an workflow/editing session.


Patrick Alessi
2007-09-23 06:33:03
Very informative article. I just have a quick question. What is the check mark icon in image 4? I just encountered that icon the other day in my own work, but I can't figure out what it means.
Gib Myers
2007-09-23 08:01:54
If you wish to erase image 2 in your example, you only want to use Delete Version although it is a new master. If you Delete Version and Master, the original, image 1 will be deleted.

If you don't like these large tiff or psd files in you Aperture Library, search for Managed files to locate them and then do a Relocate to move them externally.

Sean Broderick
2007-09-23 08:07:44
[for Paul Perton]

Using AppleScript, there is almost always a way to automate repetitive tasks... The frustrations of AppleScript are well-known, but I think the simplest solution would be a script for each external editor, which first changes the preference and then opens a selected file.

The scripts could be placed in a menu, and perhaps assigned an equivalent key command. If I did not have other work on slate today, I would be tempted to chase down a solution. I suspect scripts to do this are already available, or someone else will be ready to create them. Good luck.

(If you do not find anything, I could try getting it to work *later*. I have a dotmac account for email, hakutsuru.)

2007-09-24 06:23:22
Yes, Paul, I agree with Sean that your best bet is likely a script that modifies Aperture's .plist file to change your editor.

Patrick: the check mark badge in Image 4 is the Album Pick badge. This means that this image will appear on the top of the stack when the stack is viewed in its current album. If the stack is viewed in the Project, Image 1 (the Stack Pick) will appear on the top of the stack.

2007-09-26 12:09:42
This has to be the only confusing aspect of aperture; Deleting a PS master image feels like defusing a bomb! Sometimes it works, sometimes all the versions and master images get deleted instead.

Apple should rethink the icons and display a different dialog box warning when deleting PS master 'versions'!

2007-10-15 09:59:24
Is there any way to tell Aperture where the TIFF is saved? Typically, I have the RAW images on a large external drive, and having Aperture save them to a vault is very confusing. Lightroom saves the files as -Edit in the same folder as the original. This makes it way easier to keep work together. Thoughts?
2007-10-15 10:01:31
Steve, as far as I know, there is no way to tell Aperture to save the .TIFF masters in any location other than the Aperture Library. Maybe a feature request for version 2.0???
2007-10-15 11:35:03
Charlie--thanks for the quick reply. How would one submit this feature request? I use Aperture as I expect a number of people do -- on the road. Catalog right after the shoot and I forget less! And I always import to an external pocket drive. That's why having post-processed images mysteriously migrate into the vault was such an unwelcome surprise. Lest I sound overly critical, I was using Lightroom a great deal and have pretty much decided Aperture is better for the job.
2007-10-15 12:06:54
Steve, try this link: