AliasHerder and iPhoto

This usage scenario is the reason why we created AliasHerder  – it solved an issue with our 18000+ image iPhoto Library.

Without AliasHerder we would have been faced with the unhappy prospect of painstakingly rebuilding a large iPhoto library.

Here’s how it all happened:

Suppose you are about to give Apple’s iPhoto® a tentative try-out.

You already have a large image collection somewhere on a server, and because you wanted to just try iPhoto without fully committing to it, you configured iPhoto to not copy the files, but instead use file references. It’s one of the iPhoto preference settings.

Now, some time later, after putting oodles of time into rotating and grouping images and events, you decide iPhoto is actually quite usable, and you’d prefer to continue to use it as the main image repository.

So you change the preference to copy the files instead of referencing them, and from that moment on, any new additions to your iPhoto library are now dutifully copied into the iPhoto library.

Problem is: your iPhoto library is now a mix of newer photos residing inside the library, and older photos residing outside of the library. That leads to all kinds of interesting scenarios.

For example: we have our iPhoto Library on a big iMac which doubles as a presentation screen. Part of the imagery was residing outside of the iPhoto library, on a file server, and a second, more recent part was residing inside the iPhoto Library.

As long as we viewed the images while in the office, everything was fine: iPhoto would either grab the file off the internal hard disk, or grab the file off the server, and you’d hardly notice any difference.

The problem started when we took the iMac out to another location for a presentation: suddenly things went wrong. The slide show would show a few slides, and then apparently ‘hang’ for a long time, and then it would only show a low-res version of the slide.

The reason was, of course, that iPhoto was trying to access a non-accessible server: these pictures are represented by an alias inside the iPhoto Library (the iPhoto Library can be a folder or a package, depending on the version of iPhoto used).

Enter AliasHerder. We dropped the iPhoto ‘Originals’ folder (which you can find inside the iPhoto Library) onto AliasHerder, and about an hour of frantic network traffic later, all our images were fully part of the iPhoto library – no more references to the server.

With more recent versions of iPhoto, the iPhoto Library is a package, and you need to do find the iPhoto Library icon, then

right-click – Show Package Contents

to get to the ‘Originals’ folder.

Then drag-drop the ‘Originals’ folder onto AliasHerder, while holding the Option key down. On the dialog that should appear, select the option to recursively process nested folders.

Keep in mind that even though we have tried the best we could, we cannot guarantee that AliasHerder will always work correctly in all situations – so you should really make a backup of your iPhoto library before letting the AliasHerder loose! Grwoof!