Aperture Managed to Referenced

Project Managed ReferencedA while back I noticed my Aperture library was consuming an awful lot of disk space on my MacBook Pro.   This is due to the fact that I shoot Raw and shoot a lot (innuendo not intended).   To overcome this I began breaking my library down into smaller libraries, organised by year and stored on an external drive.

The problem with this solution is that if I wanted to look at a photo I would have to remember which library it was stored in.   On top of that I would need to have the external drive with me if I were away from my office.   After a little research I discovered the problem was caused by using a Managed library in Aperture.   In a Managed set up Aperture imports all the images (and videos) into a sandboxes space (much like iPhoto does).   This causes the library to grow in line with the file sizes of the items added to it.

The solution was relatively simple, move to a Referenced library set up.   In a referenced library set up you have previews of your images along with any data relating to edits you may have carried out stored within your Aperture library.   The original image files reside wherever you choose to store them.   In my case these files are still on the external drive and my library is on my MacBook Pro.

I have found a number of advantages to moving to this set up.

  1. I can now search one library for all my images
  2. That library can be stored on my MacBook Pro with a much smaller footprint
  3. There is scalability in the solution.   As my external drive fills, I just add a new drive for the new originals.
  4. The original files are not sandboxed and available for access by other applications.

One of the downsides is that if you change the location of an original outside of Aperture, say using the Finder, Aperture will lose its reference to that original file.

For me the pluses far outweigh the minuses and I will be using this method going forward.

For further information I found this post to be most helpful.

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