This is another one of those blogs that I started (well, I gave it a name and saved it!) a few years ago, but just never got around to it. I thought I better having blogged about it a little here, and I really do need to find myself a replacement for Apple Aperture.

Apple discontinued Aperture almost 5 years ago, so it’s actually quite impressive that it still works at all! It does, but only on devices still rocking macOS 10.13 High Sierra, which fortunately is the last version supported by my 2011 iMac!

I think my biggest hurdle is switching away from Aperture is familiarity, as I’ve been using it now for well over 10 years and have over 40,000 images stored, organised and many adjusted in Aperture. I have a mix of local and referenced files, based on a workflow I’ve used for most of that time, that goes something like this:

  1. Take pictures on my ageing Canon cameras (mainly my 5D MkII but I still use an EOS-M from time to time)
  2. Import pictures into Aperture Library, which automatically creates a backup to an HDD in my iMac (so I have two copies)
  3. Sort, organise, delete, and adjust images in Aperture and keep locally until the end of the year.
  4. Regular rsync backup between my iMac HDD and FreeNAS0 machine, creating a third copy of the pictures. This replicates daily to FreeNAS1 (creating a fourth copy) and then is stored off-site using CrashPlan (creating a fifth copy!)
  5. At this point, I might format the memory card in the camera!
  6. At the end of every year, I move the local library files to the HDD or I’d run out of space on my iMac SSD, and by that time I’m pretty much done with any editing, I might want to make.
  7. I also delete the backup files from the HDD otherwise I’d have another copy.
  8. Aperture also synchronises with my iPhone and any pictures I take and automatically imports into my Aperture library. I’d really miss this, and even though I also upload all the pictures and video taken on my iPhone to Nextcloud, it wouldn’t magically appear in any Aperture replacement.

Any of the alternatives I’ve tried are missing one or more of these steps, or the ability to make minor edits and adjustments within the app itself, using plugins and/or extensions, rather than having to export files to something like Photoshop to make edits (although I might sometimes do this, depending on what I need to do)

Even just typing this is making me worry about moving from Aperture, but it is something that’s going to need to be done, ideally before my iMac dies at which point I might not even have the option available to me!

So far my list of alternatives include:

  • Adobe Lightroom – this is the obvious choice and even has a conversion tool, but every time I’ve tried it I’ve quickly reverted back to Aperture. The thought of paying a monthly subscription for something I’m having to use also doesn’t fill me with joy
  • Apple Photos – this is the built-in option for macOS, but again is missing some of the key workflows above. It would deal with the iPhone pictures nicely, but the management of images and moving them between different locations just didn’t work the last time I tried, although I will need to take another look. I also think running different versions of macOS across my MacBook and iMac will ultimately cause me some problems
  • Capture One 20 – similar to Lightroom, I’ve looked at this a couple of times but never really felt it was a good replacement. Need to give it another look.
  • Coral Aftershot Pro – I’ve not really given this much of a look, so it will be somewhere near the top of the list when I’m looking again, but just the Coral name brings back memories of old, and they’re not all good ones!
  • Darktable – this is a completely new option I stumbled across when looking for a Linux replacement, and it’s cross-platform which would be a real bonus. It’s also open-source, so it would be great if I can make it work, but from my initial testing I’m not holding out too much hope.

There are various other apps and tools I use for editing pictures, but none of them has anything to replace Apertures catalogue functionality, and this is really the bit I need to replace so I’ve discounted them.

Hopefully, I’ll have a little time ‘between contracts’ in a couple of months, and I might have some time to come back to this in more detail, as I really do need to say a fond farewell to Aperture and find a new way to manage my photo library.