photography
Transfer pictures from Photos app to Lightroom

Transfer pictures from Photos app to Lightroom

Tonight Lincoln went to bed fairly quickly and easily, which is giving me a lot of time to sit down at my computer and finally get to organizing my photos from the last year. This is something I like doing over my Christmas break, so I can feel like I’m starting the near year in a good place, as far as memories go.

I’m also in the midst of watching Tidying Up with Marie Kondo on Netflix, and man alive am I wanting to purge and delete some stuff. Next up, shoes!

Ever since Lightroom, my preferred photo management app, started having issues downloading my iPhone pictures, I’ve felt so out of sorts with my memory keeping strategy. It used to all go into Lightroom, DSLR photos and iPhone photos alike, and it was just so easy. Now that Lightroom doesn’t play nice with my phone pictures, though, I’ve had to come up with a better system.

This year I tried just being okay using the Photos app that comes standard on Macs. It’s just so easy to photo dump to there every once in awhile, and it does a great job keeping track of what I have or haven’t downloaded off my phone yet. The big bummer is that it “locks” away your photos in its own management system. This makes it impossible to also play with them on Lightroom in an easy way. So while it’s been simple to get all my photos transferred this year, I’ve done diddly squat with them, which makes me pretty sad.

My new method, which I tested out last week, is to use Image Capture (also standard on Macs) to get my photos from my phone to computer. With Image Capture, I can place my photos in my own organization structure, which is a simple year and month format. From there I can import into Lightroom, and add all my keywords and most importantly edit and use my photos. The only hangup Lightroom has with this method is just it just plain refuses to import any videos that were created from Instagram stories. Eh, I’m not going to edit those in LR anyway, so it’s no big deal, but I do wish I could have all my photos and videos together.

My big problem tonight was the epic struggle that is figuring out how to get my blasted pictures out of Photos’ tight clutches. I figured I’d do the simple approach, by breaking into the Photos folder and just stealing my pictures out of the Masters folder, where Photos stores images by download date. Super easy to get to them, by the way. I grabbed the first set of photos to just drag and drop over to my own file system… and the transfer just hung there. I got a little “Preparing to move” note that just never went away. Now, maybe it just needed more than five minutes to transfer seven images, but ain’t nobody got time for that.

Googling didn’t do much to help me figure out why they image library wasn’t drag and drop friendly, it just informed me that it wasn’t. So I had to go the export and delete method, which I thought was going to be a huge waste of time, but surprisingly ended up being insanely fast. The transfer of photos to my own files were literally done in seconds.

I took the time to grab some screenshots of how to go about this, because you know at some point this coming year I’m going to wind up rushed and importing to Photos just to get things off my computer, and I’ll need this reminder of how simple it is to get them back out!

1) So we start with Photos open. I also have my Pictures folder open to the current year and month, where I’ll be placing my images and videos.


2) Since I save my images by month, I use Photos’ search feature to look for just one month at a time. In the example images, I’m moving all photos and videos from September.

3) Select all the photos. I use the ctrl + A feature to make this fast and make sure I don’t leave anything out. Then go to File- Export, and make sure to click “Export Unmodified Original.” This will make sure that the originals get sent, not just the edited. (I never edit with Photos anyway, but this may be different for other people, though.)

4) When the Export message comes up, just click Export without changing anything. I used to change all my iPhone photo names to match their dates, but I found this made it very difficult to keep track of what I hadn’t already transferred from my phone. When I leave the file name its original name, it’s way easier to find a photo and confirm that it’s already on my computer.

5) The next window is where you want your photos to be sent. I just pick the appropriate month folder and click Export Originals.

6) Because I’m a little paranoid when it comes to saving and backing up, I like to see that my transfer has actually happened. Here is the new September folder with all its contents tucked away nicely.

7) While the whole month’s worth of photos is already selected from the Export in the Photos app, it’s easy to right click and delete the whole shebang. This will delete the images from Photos, which I highly recommend doing for two reasons. One, you don’t have double the space taken up with double the photos, and two, it’s a nightmare when you second guess yourself on whether you’ve transferred everything and have to go manually check after. Just delete them, it’s easier.

8) Photos will ask if you’re sure, of course.

9. And it’s oh so satisfying when you click Delete.

And done. Big sigh of relief for me. And now I’m off to import them one month at at time into my Lightroom catalog. I try to do this quickly, while also scanning through each months’ worth of photos for obvious deletes like screenshots or bad photos that slipped through the first time. I actually really enjoy the time sitting at my computer, binging new shows on Netflix (seriously, I need to take a break and go throw out some shoes), and going through the last year’s memories. There are some fun moments I’d forgotten about until now, and it’s so fun seeing Lincoln a year ago in January 2018 and how he’s grown in so many different ways since then.

Cheers, 2019! Let’s make some more pictures. 🙂

Transfer Pictures from Photos App text overlay of an image of framed pictures

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