Eric Stewart: Running Off At The Mouth

A Day With the iMac: Photo Syncing

by Eric Stewart on Nov.29, 2014, under Computers, Technology

So it’s not a matter of software … that usually works itself out somewhere along the line (you find something just as good or there is a Mac version of what you used when you used Windows).  It’s not a matter of looks, of course; while I was drooling over the 27″ screen, this 21.5″ is perfectly good.  It’s not the basic OS: if I didn’t need to play games (an issue that is slowly going away as game publishers are getting back into making Mac versions, and I’ve been sticking to the PS3 for that lately anyway) and had the budget, I’d have a Mac at work (I already have a Macbook Pro as a laptop there, but my main workstation is Linux based).

No … for me, it’s the little annoyances of things that work illogically different on the Mac.  Well, one so far anyway.

Not iTunes – that’s doing mostly what it should, though I did have to tell it to essentially wipe my music, movies, and other stuff (not my apps or the screen layouts, thank you very much).  That just means a longer initial sync when you make the move, but making the move usually means copying everything from your old computer to the new one (no matter what platform either one of them is).  That can take a while, especially if you have a lot of music and movies.  And (at least for the most part) it will put everything back where it was (assuming you haven’t lost any music/movie files along the way – but if they are iTunes purchases, you should just be able to redownload them from iTunes).  It’s even pulling photos from the specific directory I want it to and putting them on my devices.

No, the impetus for firing off this blog post is photos I’ve taken.  Those on my iP[hone|ad] being copied to the iMac.

On Windows, you could tell Windows: Pull the photos in and put them in a directory structure based on the date they were taken/created (not imported).  I haven’t found anything on the Mac that does that.

iPhoto – might hide too much

It’s not like you don’t have choices.  iPhoto initially seemed to be the default option, but once I discovered that iPhoto keeps the actual files in its own directory structure, and any “folder”/”album” arrangement you make is strictly internal to iPhoto, that was, to say the least, inconvenient.  How does one go about putting a picture you’ve taken, but might remove from, your iPhone and make sure it gets copied into that directory iTunes puts on your iPhone for you?  It’s like iPhoto wants to be the only interface you use when dealing with your pictures, and doesn’t want you to do any file manipulation through Finder.

Poking it a little as I write this makes it not as ridiculous as I initially thought.  At least, while it’s in that directory structure (Pictures/iPhoto Library.photolibrary/Masters – but use a right click and choose “Show Package Contents” on “iPhoto Library” for browsing to the Masters directory, or it starts iPhoto) it’s in a structure based on import date, but that’s less than ideal (or what I’m used to).  And you can right-click and “copy” an image and paste it into a Finder window perfectly fine.  So in retrospect, this is a little closer to what I’m looking for than anything else I’ve played with so far.  It doesn’t appear to reimport files already imported, at least.

If you want to do any real organizing, though, you’ll have to remember to go into your “last import” folder and take care of everything that’s there right away.

Also, it would guess that, in order for it to be as useful/annoying as it wants to be, you should probably “import” all of your existing photos from your other folders … but it would be nice if iPhoto were smart enough to just read the existing folder structure to arrange those photos much like they already are.  There shouldn’t be a need for an “iPhoto Library” folder … that should just be your “Pictures” folder!

Image Capture – a bit clunky

I didn’t play much with Image Capture, so I might be missing something.  It does offer you the option to make your own destination directory when importing photos, but it’s not as automatic as it should be, and I found the interface a little clunky, and there’s always the fear that it might reimport something it’s already imported (it’s only been a day so I can’t verify that either way).  However, Image Capture is useful for telling the iMac what to do with the photos from the specific device (lower left hand corner; you might have to click on an icon to “pop up” the options).  That led me to …

Autoimporter – hidden, not perfect, but closer to the Windows solution

The actual app (which you’ll want to open in order to tweak the settings) is buried in:

/System/Library/Image Capture/Support/Application/

Does offer you the ability to import photos immediately upon plugin, without needing a “full blown” app (IE, one you’re going to have to close).  It’s great weakness (so far – there may be more) is that, while you can say “import into this directory with a filename based on the ‘camera name’ and the date” is that you can’t make one a subdirectory of the other, and the date is the date of import.  For all I know, this thing also reimports stuff it’s already imported – I don’t know yet; I’ve only found it today, and I’m thinking I’ll be going back to iPhoto.

Yeah, probably iPhoto

I haven’t settled on it yet, but I need to settle on some solution, as the main reason for this iMac’s purchase is so that my wife has something she can work on when her phone and iPad aren’t good enough … and has some place to sync them (and strangely enough she takes my advice on these things).  I’m moving to the iMac as well since it will suit the same needs for me, and my old Windows box is very old … I’m amazed it’s lasted this long without a major malfunction.

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