Master Photos for OS X
Learn about iPhoto’s replacement
If you’ve installed Yosemite on your Mac, by now you have probably updated it to version 10.10.3, which introduces the new Photos app to replace iPhoto. If you’ve used the eponymous app on an iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad, the Mac version will seem familiar. It provides the same ways to explore your photo library, the same methods for organising photos into curated albums and sharing them with other people, and the same easy-to-use yet powerful toolset that makes it possible even for a newcomer to make photos look their best.
When you select the Photos view at the top of the window, the app displays all of your photos in chronological order. The arrow buttons at the top-left of the window zoom in and out through several levels. At the most zoomed out, photos are grouped into years. Click and hold on a thumbnail to see a larger preview, and let go to have that photo enlarge to fit the window. Alternatively, just click once to see Collections. These group photos by broad geographical regions, possibly over long periods of time. The click and hold technique works here too, or you can click a thumbnail to see Moments, photos taken over shorter periods of time and at more precise locations. Double-click a picture here to enlarge it, and then swipe left and right (with two fingers on a trackpad, one on a Magic Mouse) or use the arrow keys to step through the Moment. You don’t need to click the back button to quickly reach a specific photo. Instead, click the button to the right of that one to split the view, which will show other pictures from the Moment down the left of the window.
The app manages the contents of these views for you, based on data that your camera attaches to each photo you take. If your camera isn’t a phone, ensure its clock is correctly set. Some cameras – especially those built into phones – can automatically attach location data to
The Mac version of Photos has eight built-in filters and manual controls for manipulating colour
photos. If yours can’t, you can look up places by name or postcode and attach this detail.
You can curate your best photos into albums, either manually or by specifying criteria, such as locations and keywords you’ve attached. The latter method, a Smart Album, is powerful because the app updates its content over time to reflect changes in your library.
Thankfully, Photos hasn’t ditched its predecessor’s creative projects, so you can add your photos to books, calendars and greeting cards, and have these mementos professionally printed.
Photos can use iCloud to make your entire photo library available on all of your Apple devices (well, those running Yosemite or iOS 8) without you having to choose when and what to sync. Take a photo with your iPhone and the next time that device goes online using Wi-Fi, the photo will sync to iCloud and then appear on your Mac. It works the other way too, for photos added on your Mac.
Sadly, the Mac version of Photos lacks some extensibility found in its iOS counterpart, so photography apps are unable to make their filters and editing tools available within it. For now, at least, you’re limited to eight built-in filters. That’s not all the creative control at your fingertips, though. You also get manual controls for manipulating colour.
It’s not all bad news where expansion is concerned, either, because Photos provides an AppleScript library, which enables developers to extend it with new behaviours. OS X Automation (macosxautomation.com) has already tapped into this to provide a set of Automator actions, which are a much easier method of tailoring the app to your needs than learning a scripting language. On the site, you’ll find examples of how you might use these actions, including one that opens the Maps app at the location where the selected photo was taken. After reading our tutorial, it’s worth exploring these actions to see how they might work for you. Alan Stonebridge
Photos is packed with simple yet powerful tools for editing images.
Photos turns dark when editing images, which is a great opportunity to use Yosemite’s so-called dark mode.