Mac Photo Management: How Do I Switch from Using iPhoto?

Kevin seeks a solution to his Mac photo management woes:

Currently, all of our family photos are stored on my iMac using iPhoto. I would prefer to move everything to a Dropbox folder, so that they are stored both on my computer and the cloud, but I no longer wish to use iPhoto and instead wish to manage our photos using something like Picasa. I would greatly appreciate your advice on the best, as well as the simplest, way to:

  1. move all of our images out of iPhoto without losing quality
  2. copy them into a Dropbox folder
  3. ensure new photos upload to the Dropbox folder

All of the tutorials and solutions I have come across on the Web seem to be beyond my tech knowledge and ability. I would also love to hear any alternative you would suggest for cloud or hard drive storage of photos other than iPhoto. Thank you for your time.

Mac Photo Management: How Do I Switch from Using iPhoto?Thank you for taking the time to ask your questions, Kevin! Mac photo management seems easy when you use all the default tools and settings your iMac came configured to use. When it comes time to migrate to other methods of viewing and storing images, however, it can seem a bit daunting of a task if you’re not particularly tech savvy. I hope I’ll be able to show you how to go from one Mac photo management method to another without causing you too much anguish.

Mac Photo Management: Changing Your Mac’s Preferences

To prevent your iMac (or any Mac) from launching iPhoto every time you connect a camera or other image capturing device (including an iPhone, iPad, or iPod), first head to iPhoto’s Preferences in order to select the No application item. Preferences are settings that determine how your Mac behaves. In order to instruct your iMac to stop using iPhoto to view your images, look under iPhoto, Preferences, General, and then Connecting Camera opens. Once you’ve selected No application, iPhoto should no longer launch whenever your iMac detects the connection of a device that contains images. (That’s how to prevent iPhoto from automatically launching, but you can always open iPhoto manually, should you ever wish to.)

Jump to 1:03 in the video to learn how to access iPhoto’s Preferences.

If you already have Picasa installed, then you probably won’t need to change iPhoto’s settings. Instead, open up Picasa’s own Preferences, head to the General area, and look for the item When a camera is connected, launch. To clarify, this item is located in a drop-down menu located under Picasa, Preferences, then General. By default, iPhoto will be the item selected, so change that to Picasa and from then on, Picasa will be application that is launched whenever a camera or other image capturing/storing device is connected to your iMac. Should you wish to use a different application to manage your images in the future, you should be able to do so following this method. (The wording for items under different applications’ Preferences menu may differ slightly, but they should carry the same or similar meaning.)

Mac Photo Management: Moving Your Images to Dropbox and Picasa

If you wish to use Dropbox or another online storage solution instead of Picasa’s own Picasa Web Albums, you’ll need to set Picasa’s settings to do so. Jeremy Roberts of Cloud Productivity has a handy tutorial on how to back up Picasa with Dropbox for those who are familiar with their Mac’s Terminal application. For those less inclined to using a command line interface, I recommend first installing Dropbox, moving your iPhoto library to your Dropbox folder, then directing Picasa to scan your Dropbox folder. Don’t worry if all of that seems intimidating right now. I assure you, it’s simple as long as you perform one step at a time, and in sequence.

First, download and install Dropbox. I expect you’ll be able to install Dropbox without issue. If you do have any issues installing Dropbox, leave a comment. Once Dropbox is installed, here’s how you’ll move your iPhoto library. First, locate the iPhoto Library, which is where all of your images are stored. You’ll find this in the Pictures folder. Copy or move the entire iPhoto Library over to your local Dropbox folder. If you have a lot of pictures, it’ll take some time for your local Dropbox folder to sync with your Dropbox cloud server. (It may take seconds, minutes, or even hours, depending on how many images you have in your iPhoto Library.) You’ll know your Dropbox folders are in sync once you see the Dropbox status indicator change from a rotating blue sync marker to a white check mark on a green circle.

To get Picasa to recognize the images stored in your Dropbox so that you’ll be able to browse the images, you’ll need to set Picasa to monitor your local Dropbox folder. Start your Picasa application and look for the Tools menu item. Select this and then the Folder Manager item that is listed below it. (The path to this item is Tools, then Folder Manager.) In the Folder Manager, you can choose which folders you would like Picasa to keep track of. Select your Dropbox folder and you should now be able to view all of the images you moved from your iPhoto library. That’s it!

Jump to 2:12 in the video to learn how to access Picasa’s Folder Manager.

I do my best to make technical information such as this easy for most people to understand, but once in a while I miss a step or describe something that is still difficult for my readers to gather. If anyone is having trouble comprehending this tutorial, please comment below and I’ll do my best to clarify any of the steps in this how-to. Also if you are interested check out my new ipad stand. Anyone else who has additional insight into this process: feel free to comment! I want to make certain that everyone understands Mac photo management!

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Chris has consistently expressed his convictions and visions outright, supplying practical information to targeted audiences: media agencies, business owners, technology consumers, software and hardware professionals, et al. He remains a passionate personality in the tech community-at-large. He's a geek.