Importing Folders of Images from the Finder

by Charlie Miller

At an Aperture class I taught last weekend, one of my students was considering using Aperture as a tool to organize his large scanned image library. He had already scanned thousands of photos and organized them into folders within folders (within folders...) in the Finder. When we got to the part of the class covering the "Import Folders into a Project" option, he was particularly interested, and I realized that this seems to be one of the lesser talked about import options within Aperture. Most folks using Aperture are obviously importing photos direct from their camera’s storage card, but for those that aren’t, this option may be quite useful.

Before I go any further, I suggest that you check out Micah’s excellent article Digitizing Your Film Archive with Aperture. He offers many useful suggestions for those considering Aperture to help in digitizing a film archive. But if you’ve already scanned your photos or negatives and spent time organizing them into a meaningful hierarchy on your computer and you want to keep that organization, you can import a folder of images into Aperture as a project.

When you import a folder of images, the folder becomes a project and any subfolders become albums within the project. If there are many levels of subfolders nested within one another, each folder will become an Aperture folder, with the last level of folders becoming Albums. So plan your folder hierarchy carefully, visualizing the top-level folder as the project that it will become when it’s imported. And remember that any images that are not nested within subfolders will be imported but won’t end up in any of the albums.


To import a folder of images from the Finder choose File > Import > Folders into a Project. This technique also works when you drag a folder of images from the Finder and drop it onto Aperture’s Projects panel. However I prefer the menu command, as it brings up the import dialog, offering options on naming conventions and where to store the images.

For anyone who’s interested in learning more about Aperture, I’ll be teaching a comprehensive one-day course on September 16th in Dallas, Texas at The Westin City Center. The workshop is part of the Aperture Road Tour presented by AUPN. If you’re in the Dallas area, sign up and come on down!


2007-08-31 15:54:20
It's less talked about because Apple threw up such a thick smokescreen about how projects, not folders, were a new paradigm. Luckily they partially backtracked (sorry, Apple don't backtrack, they listen to their customers and innovate) and introduced referenced files in 1.5 and this import folders as projects. But it's still cackhanded - these projects remain projects rather than reflecting good folder systems, so you can't synchronize the folder-project to reflect changes outside Aperture, and you lose the automated vault backup, don't you?
Christopher Mackay
2007-08-31 16:41:15
Not to mention that this makes things awkward when importing projects (that's 'projects' in the traditional workflow sense, not the Aperture sense) that were archived to optical media years ago, before Aperture existed. Frankly, I'm in disbelief that Apple's made this so counter-intuitive and inflexible. Seems too 'opinionated' to me (with no apologies to DHH).
John Gordon
2007-09-03 06:40:37
How did you address Aperture's inability to edit the date metadata in the context of a scanning project? Why do you think Apple hasn't provided Aperture with the date editing capabilities every other image management software package has?
Charlie Miller
2007-09-03 06:58:48
John, check out the shareware app Timeature.