Renaming Master Files - Part 1

by Ben Long

Every time I give a talk or class on Aperture, someone asks this question: "is there any way to get Aperture to rename my referenced master files when I import?" The short answer is: there's no built-in way to do this, but there are a couple of workarounds. I'm going to detail both of those in this entry and the next, but before I do that, I'm gonna make you suffer through a lecture. I'm not going to do this simply because I like to hear myself type, but because if you're asking this question, I think there's a chance that you're not fully embracing the Aperture paradigm.

The fact is: there's really no reason to rename your referenced master files. In fact, there's no reason for you to care what they're named at all. Aperture will always keep track of what your master file is named, and where it's stored. With Version 1.5, you've got all the tools you need to move this master file, regardless of what it's named, and Aperture will continue to keep track of it. And, if you ever want a copy of the master file, you can simply ask Aperture to export it for you.

If you say "but when I export edited images, I want them named a particular thing" then the master file name is still irrelevant, because you can specify the exported name at the time of export. If you say "but I want my images to have meaningful, descriptive names when I work on them in Aperture." That, I completely understand, but that's why Aperture provides version names. Remember, each image that you work on in Aperture is just a version based on the master image. Each version can have its own name, and you can pass that version name on to your exported files when you save them.

When you're working with images, Aperture serves as an extremely capable Finder replacement. Because it keeps track of where all your images are, you don't have to. What's more, you don't have to care what those files are named. If you embrace this underlying philosophy, you'll have a much easier time crafting a workflow that is seamless and easy to follow, because you won't be trying to set Aperture on top of the Finder. Aperture can't fit into a Finder-based workflow, because Aperture and the Finder try to do the same types of things - organize files. When it comes to photos, though, Aperture is much more capable than the Finder. For more on this "Aperture philosophy" take a look at this.

Some people, though, will argue that they still want to rename their master files, just in case they ever decide to stop using Aperture. Here at Inside Aperture, we don't really talk about the eventuality of switching from Aperture to something else, but just in case you're someone who spends a lot of time worrying about the future, here's one way that you can use Aperture to rename referenced master files that have been imported as references. (Aperture's Import dialog includes an option to rename images imported into the Aperture library.)

1. Select the referenced image in Aperture. For this trick to work, you need to know where the original image is stored. If you're not sure of its location, choose File > Manage Referenced Files. The Manage Referenced Files dialog box will show you the path to the file.

2. Once you've figured out the original path, close the Manage Referenced Files dialog box.

3. Choose File > Relocate Master. Aperture will present you with a Save dialog box. Navigate to the location where the file is currently stored (the one you looked up in step 1). You can now use Aperture's standard renaming options to give the file a new name. Aperture won't move the file. Since you've selected the original location for the destination, Aperture will simply leave the image where it is, but give it a new name.

Using this technique, you can perform batch operations, as long as all of the images are in the same folder. If you need to rename images in multiple folders, you'll have to do those in separate batches.

Next week, a way to rename master files upon import.

18 Comments


2006-11-15 16:35:49
in fact, there is no way to rename your master file when they are imported in aperture. but since aperture 1.5 you can rename the master-files during import in the import-dialog.
Sunny
2006-11-15 17:41:21
Does Aperture provide a new naming scheme on import or it just defaults to the one generated automatically in your digital camera?
Fraser Speirs
2006-11-15 22:59:52
Ben,


If you check the "Apply to Master Filename" checkbox on import, you can set up a custom naming scheme that will be applied to the master filenames. This works even if you're storing the images in the Aperture library, although as you say it's more useful if you're referencing.

John Weeks
2006-11-16 00:23:36
Renaming masters does avoid one Aperture annoyance. When you use Open With External Editor, Aperture uses the original master filename, not the version filename for the new file it creates.
Claus Lavendt
2006-11-16 03:27:35
Check out Automater, from where you can create a really nice small application that you can use to rename files. This step gives you many options on how you want to rename.
You cannot do this DURING import, but you can do it directly on your CF card or on the folder containing your master files. After this is done, import to Aperture...
Mark Thomas
2006-11-16 04:18:26
Sorry to pollute this blog entry, but I've scoured the web and the Aperture help for something on this and I'm either blind or too stupid to figure it out: Is it possible to change the default thumbnail double-click behavior so that it enters and exits fullscreen à la iPhoto?
ian
2006-11-16 06:33:40
It all feels like workarounds and band aids. You have to give adobe props, their naming scheme is the easiest to use. It was the manin reason why I used The Bridge.
I shoo catalogs, we rename the file name as we go with the SKU while holding the item's paperwork. I can't figure out how to do this quickly in Aperture.
Daniel Mendez
2006-11-16 06:48:21
Hey Mark, just hit the F key and you are all set. When done, hit the F key again to exit [F]ull screen mode.


Ben,
Thanks for the tip. I would not have thought of trying the same location. I have read elsewhere (but not tried) that you can rename existing masters in the same way by relocating them to another location with the rename option.

Ben Long
2006-11-16 07:14:04
Oops! Sorry all, I didn't make it clear enough that I was talking about renaming referenced files. Aperture 1.5's Import dialog offers an option to rename master images imported into the library. Sorry about the confusion!
Britton
2006-11-16 08:29:40
I guessing that you're starting with the presumption that a photographer only uses one camera per event, and thus master filenames will never be identical, or that we'll import directly from the camera into Aperture, rather than copy files to a harddrive first. I shoot with multiple cameras per event, and my raw files frequently have identical names. Also, I often have little time to copy files between events so importing into Aperture directly from the camera isn't an option due to time constraints. So instead, I have to use Bridge to sort my files by date/time and camera model, and rename/move in multiple steps so that I can get a time based sequence of raw files all in the same directory. Then I import into Aperture. I'm sure a lot of people are doing this.


I'm not buying into the concept that we should never manage a raw file with anything other than Aperture now or in the future, and I don't think many other people are either. Apple will fix this problem. Until the core filesystem is stored in a database, and physical filenames become meaningless, the need to rename physical files will remain.

Paul FOLEY
2006-11-16 14:41:41
Ben,
I am midway thru a 30 day trial of 1.5 and have found many features that work for me, however, the file naming issue is a problem (unless I import into the library which doesn't always suit).
My workflow is: (before Ap and even now when I don't want files in the library)
Import files into Lightroom or PS (once was C1Pro) - add IPTC data pertinent to assignment at import
quick edit out unusable files
rename files (first 4 digits relate to Invoice/job Number)
Since trialing Aperture I have imported into Ap Library or referenced (as suits me).
Rank selects
make some adjustments to punch up colour/contrast to selects
upload to Photoshelter for client to view.


My problem with Aperture is not being able to name the uploaded file without "version#" on the end of it. (clients have asked to see the other versions - not understanding what it means). When I use master filename in naming presets it reverts back to original camera name. (if it was imported into Ap as a referenced file.)


The explanation of how Ap works did help me with it's philosophy but still can't see why Ap can accept the name change if the file is imported into the library but not if it is referenced.


FYI - I was able to remove version# in the list view but had to do that for 324 individual files.


I just discovered inside aperture - am going to give it a good read, thanks
Paul

Gene Austin
2006-11-17 23:22:01
Ben, when I posed this same question to you at the Apple Store on 5th Avenue this past Monday your response was helpful, but this tip will really help my workflow! Up till now I've been batch renaming event/wedding images by capture time sequence (from multiple cameras) using iView.


Performing this step in the early phase of the workflow comes in handy when exporting to FlipAlbum/DVD/Web for client review and then whittling down selections prior to doing album layout in LumaPix Studio.

Mark Thomas
2006-11-17 23:46:08
Hey Mark, just hit the F key and you are all set. When done, hit the F key again to exit [F]ull screen mode.


Well, yeah, but that's not a double-click. I'm after the flow I had in iPhoto. If I've already clicked once on a thumbnail to select it, it's a lot quicker to just click a second time than it is move my hand to the "f" key. In fact it's clumsy. Curious that Aperture doesn't allow these sorts of customizations. Oh well, maybe version 2.

Will C,
2006-11-18 15:51:15
Not sure if this is usefull or note, but using "A Better Finder rename" I was able to rename my referenced masters and Aperture did not miss a beat or lose the link to them. I left "A Better Finder rename" in ultra safe finder mode. I just purchased Aperture this week so have not given up my old file oraganization system.


Will

Kenneth Rowe
2006-12-20 15:34:13
Not being able to rename files is and oversight that needs to be corrected. Custom file naming is the only real way to keep track of the thousands of images a professional photographer generates. Tagging your raws with Job numbers etc is very important for the eventual archiving and retrieving of images over time.


This is something that simply needs to be fixed. I have always loved apple software for thinking ahead of the curve. In this case they missed something important. Important enough that every other application on the market has the ability to do this exact thing.


Stop telling us how we should work with digital images and provide us with the tools we know already work for us.

Craig Auckland
2007-03-06 02:59:57
I would just like to add this as a round-about way of renaming the master files in aperture (I don't particularly like the idea that aperture had a different name from my original master files) and then getting aperture to show these filenames immediately for the referenced/library files (1-3 as above) then No.4 my add-on:


1. Select the referenced image in Aperture. For this trick to work, you need to know where the original image is stored. If you're not sure of its location, choose File > Manage Referenced Files. The Manage Referenced Files dialog box will show you the path to the file.


2. Once you've figured out the original path, close the Manage Referenced Files dialog box.


3. Choose File > Relocate Master. Aperture will present you with a Save dialog box. Navigate to the location where the file is currently stored (the one you looked up in step 1). You can now use Aperture's standard renaming options to give the file a new name. Aperture won't move the file. Since you've selected the original location for the destination, Aperture will simply leave the image where it is, but give it a new name.


4. Then select all the images you have just renamed, choose Metadata> Batch change. On the 'version name format' select edit (you only need to do this the first time you set this up) click the lower left + symbol. Delete whatever is in the 'format' box, then click and drag the master filename to the 'format' box. You can name this option whatever you want but I obviously just call it 'master filename'. Press OK; then in the batch change press OK again. That's it. All your master file names are now used as the file names within Aperture.


I use this, as I like to import a wide range a files from a shoot, edit down, then rename so that the images are sequential to send to my clients.

Paul Pilipshen
2007-07-31 14:51:43
Before Aperture I would batch rename IMG_1234.CR2 to 20D_1234.CR2. I did this because as explained by others I have multiple cameras. I got around this by adding 20D_ to my filename so I get 20D_IMG_1234.CR2. I felt I could live with that. Now I've passed IMG_9999 on one of my cameras and the other is coming up fast. If I go back to my renaming uility I could insert a 1 for 10K and higher. Does anyone have any thoughts on this. Is there a way to delete part of a master file name on import?
Stefanie Herzer
2007-09-03 15:14:27
One reason to rename a master file would be the fact that the new name of a file (e.g. when a copy is created for external editing) is based on the master file name not the version name.


Therefore: Thank you for helping us out!


Setfanie