Using Automator to Migrate From Adobe Camera Raw to Aperture

by Ben Long

For photographers with large libraries, one of the trickiest things about contemplating a move to Aperture is simply figuring out how to handle the importing of all of your legacy files. If you're a raw shooter who's making the move from Adobe Camera Raw, here's one approach to streamlining your migration.

When I moved my archive into Aperture, I took the opportunity as a chance to do some housecleaning. I decided that I would not import all of my images, only the ones that, over time had proven to be the images that I needed. In other words, I decided to import just the pick images from long-ago shots, and opted to forego lots of variants and alternates that I didn't really need.

Much of this sorting had to be done by hand, by picking out the JPEGs, PSDs, and TIFF files that I wanted to take into my Aperture library. But with my raw files, I found a way to automate the process. I have Camera Raw configured to store edits in XMP sidecar files rather than in the internal Camera Raw database. This means that any raw image that I've performed edits on has a little text file sitting alongside it, with the same filename as the raw image, but with a .xmp extension. So, it's fairly safe to assume that the raw files with XMP extensions are the ones that I'm interested in, and the rest of my raw files can be ignored.

So, I created an Automator Action that automatically filters a folder for XMP files, and then imports those raw images into Aperture. You can download my Pass Only Files With XMP action from here. That address also includes full instructions on how to install and use it. If you're unfamilliar with Automator, then check out this article.

It's important to realize that, though this approach imports only your edited raw files, it doesn't import the edits themselves. Aperture has no way to import XMP metadata, so all you'll be getting is the original raw file. In my case though, the processed raw files were also saved in the same folder as the original raws, usually in PSD or TIFF format. It's easy enough to isolate those files for import into Aperture. You can either sort the Finder window by Kind and then grab all the TIFFs and PSDs, or you can build an Automator workflow that searches a folder and automatically imports TIFFs and PSDs.

This isn't a one-stop solution that imports everything, but it can ease the process.


2007-07-03 14:44:59
Imagine you keyworded before editing, or even on import. You'd have had xmps for all your files...