iPhoto Sucks: Replace it With These iPhoto Alternatives

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There was a time that every photo taken was developed and stored in a photo album. The photos could be organized however you wanted and stored in a way that they could be easily accessible. With the advent of digital photography however, organization, display, and sharing of photographs has moved from the bookshelf at your parents’ house to folders on a computer.

This move from physical to digital storage is why the application you use to organize, view, and share your digital photographs is so important. Without a proper app, the thousands of pictures you have can be lost in a sea of images forever. If you use a Mac, you’re probably used to iPhoto taking up the role of photo organizer for you, and if this is so, you probably agree that iPhoto sucks.

There is hope, as alternatives exist for just about every feature available in iPhoto that are easier and all-around better to use. Check out the iPhoto alternatives below and hopefully get a better grip on your digital photos.

Why iPhoto Sucks

Before we get into HOW to replace iPhoto with alternatives, let’s take a minute to see WHY iPhoto sucks. One of the biggest gripes with iPhoto is how it stores pictures. iPhoto uses a database to keep your images organized in a way that makes perfect sense for iPhoto and zero sense for you. Instead of using a folder structure like iTunes, all you can see is the iPhoto Library icon that, depending on your library size, could be 5GB or more.

What’s more, backing this massive file up is tedious to say the least, and moving your images from one computer to another is more painful that when hammer meets thumb. Instead of iPhoto just reading a directory, it places everything in a huge database and you just have to deal with it.

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The use of this database hurts your organization, too. While you can change how photos are organized within the iPhoto application, you can’t organize them into meaningful folders. Once you leave iPhoto, organization goes out the window and you’re left with a mass of random images.

Speaking of organization, iPhoto will indeed import pictures from your iOS device or other digital camera, but it will place every date a picture is taken into a separate “untitled event.” Meaning, if you take 1-3 pictures per day and import those pictures after 20 days, you’ll have 20 different events to sort through. Organization is sketchy at best and getting events and albums to play nicely with one another requires a Zen-like level of calm that few people possess.

As your database grows, iPhoto slows down to a crawl and what should take a few seconds to import some pictures can be a 10-minute affair as iPhoto tries it’s very best to get the job done.

To finish out the list, Apple touts Photo Stream as an amazing feature of iCloud, yet it barely works in iPhoto. Images don’t show correctly and it’s barely even accessible in the newest iteration: iPhoto 9.5.

iPhoto Alternatives

I could go on and on about why iPhoto sucks, but instead, let’s check out a few pretty great alternatives that will bring back the fun of keeping digital pictures.

Picasa – Free

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Picasa is Google’s free photo application, and it’s pretty great. Picasa can do facial recognition, access GPS location information, and best of all, Picasa lets you organize your photos into whatever folders you want and accesses them wherever you store them. You also get photo filters as well as Google+ sharing and tagging.

The down side to Picasa is that it can be slow at times, but with a native OS X application and web client, it’s pretty darn good. Check it out at this link.

Dropbox – Free or Paid

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Dropbox has become a real photo powerhouse with their recent updates. If you use an iOS device you can automatically upload new pictures to Dropbox both wirelessly and when you sync your device. Dropbox can also automatically upload new pictures from any digital camera when it’s plugged in to your Mac.

Pictures are stored locally and backed up with Dropbox. You can organize your photos into folders and albums and best of all it’s free. While the free account will only give you 2GB of storage, more storage can easily be purchased or earned by referring friends. Check out Dropbox here. For an even easier way of viewing your Dropbox pictures, check out Unbound for iOS.

Unbound – $9.99

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Speaking of Unbound, there’s a Mac version of this software too, and it’s a pretty great iPhoto Alternative. Unbound is easy to use, fast, and organizes photos using a file structure instead of a behemoth database file.

Just like the mobile version, Unbound for the Mac can sync up with Dropbox to give you a real powerhouse of photo storage and management. You get exif data viewing, map location, and slideshows. Check out a free demo here.

MyPhotostream – $3.99 (Free trial)

iphoto replacements myphotostream

This app is meant to help you easily access your Photo Stream on your Mac. While there are ways to get to your Photo Stream that are free, this app will give you quick, simple access to your pictures. While it does cost a few bucks, you can try it out for free. MyPhotostream won’t sync your pictures or help with organization, but it does it’s one task very well.

MyPhotostream gives you the ability to share via social media as well as email right from the app, so if you’re just looking to get pictures shared easily and quickly, this might be the best option for you.

What You’ll Be Missing

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Even though the alternatives listed above are pretty great, they all still lack a few key features that iPhoto offers. First, the integration with iOS Photos is very tight with iPhoto, so if you stop using it you’re basically out of luck. Within iPhoto itself you get the ability to create Facebook and Flickr shares, and to share photos with other iCloud users.

The last major loss by using iPhoto alternatives is the ability to create books, cards, calendars, and to order prints from Apple. If these are features you enjoy using, then you’re probably stuck using iPhoto, at least for these options.

Have a favorite iPhoto alternative that I didn’t mention? Leave it in the comments for everyone else to try.

About Brian Meyer

Brian is a technology nut who loves all things Apple. Along with tech blogging he owns and operates a website dedicated to Craft Beer knowledge and information: Craft Beer Academy. With a love of sharing information and finding the newest tech out there, he is a great source for interesting news and instruction.

Comments

  1. Agreed. The problem is, I have 25K photos in iPhoto, so I would need to export these to switch over.

    Anyone have a simple way to do this?

    • Dropbox actually has an iPhoto exporter built into it. Just install the desktop client and it’ll do the dirty work. It’ll split them up into event folders.

      Personally, I subscribe to Dropbox’s $9.99 plan for 100GB of storage and just left my images there once I exported them.

      • Joseph Ryan says:

        FMPOV it might be more accurate to say that iPhoto purports to have such a feature. I also have 27+K photos in iPhoto and invested in the $100/annual for 100GB DropBox in order to use it. Short version? It doesn’t work. At. All.

    • Find your iPhoto library (usually in your Pictures folder). It is a package, not strictly a database, which you can open by right-clicking it and choosing Show Package Contents from the contextual menu that appears. This will open the package as though it were a folder and you can now browse its contents. You will find your original pictures in the sub folder called Masters organized into sub folders by year, then month, then day. Option-drag the images out to “export” them. (Option-drag creates copies leaving the originals in the iPhoto Library so you don’t mess up Photo).

      It appears that any images that you have edited in iPhoto get placed in the Previews folder with the sub folder structure being somewhat more complex. I’m open to correction on this…

      I hope this helps.

      • I’ve done this before but I’m not a fan of manually going in and mucking around. Honestly, the best I’ve used so far is the Dropbox export.

        This does indeed work, too, though. Thanks for mentioning it.

  2. I simply use Aperture. It is fantastic!

  3. Which of these alternatives provides non-destructive editing?

    Which of them allow you to access your photos via the Media Browser in other applications?

    I really don’t understand why some people get hung up on managing their own photo folders. What happens if you organise everything by date, and then need to copy all the photos you took in New York? And do you want to copy the original photos, or the edited versions? What if you want to resize the copies?

    What use is Dropbox if you want to keep all of your photos on your own hardware?

    BTW, iPhoto makes it really easy to combine events. So if you spend three days in San Francisco and then two in Los Angeles, it only takes a moment to combine the first three days of your trip and then the second two.

    I’m not saying iPhoto is perfect, but it deserves more respect than you give it.

    • I totally agree that you can make iPhoto bend to your will, but I don’t believe that software should have to be tricked to work. Dropbox stores everything locally along with a server backup. If you don’t trust cloud services, then it’s probably not the best option for you, but I have every picture in my Dropbox account stored on my local machine, too.

      I also agree that iPhoto is engrained into the Mac ethos and as such works better with other apps on the Mac, too. I just wish it did it better. I’ve had too many issues with iPhoto not working well for it to be a viable option for me, personally.

      • I’m a little puzzled by your comments, Brian. Are you sure you used iPhoto enough to really understand it? Bib made some excellent points, and you replied that you could do these things if you tricked the software and made iPhoto bend to your will. That’s not correct at all; what Bib described is how iPhoto is meant to be used! Combining events is a basic feature, for example. And exporting from iPhoto is not nearly as painful as you suggested. You can use iPhoto’s export feature to produce a nice folder of photos from an event, or from several events – and they will be in nice event-labelled folders.

        Personally, I believe there are just so many great things about iPhoto and its beautiful OS-wide integration that it cannot be matched (at least for me). When I use iMovie – or even Pages or Keynote – I can click on the media button to bring up a photo picker from iPhoto. All of its photos, in meaningful event folders for me to find and select from to add to my document. It’s a feature I can’t do without now.

        And PhotoStream is awesome! My wife takes photos, I take photos…all of them magically find their way into my iPhoto library without me having to do anything. I don’t have to import photos, or even connect my iPhone. During my kids’ birthday parties I’ve got music streaming from my Mac to the AppleTV, and it displays a slideshow of photos of my kids and their friends. During the party I’m snapping photos of the kids at the party, etc. and they begin appearing in the slideshow without me having to do a thing. The kids begin to notice that the photos I’m taking of them are coming up on the TV. How cool is that? I don’t know of a third-party solution that can do any of these things. And if my computer-illiterate mother can actually edit her own photos and fix red-eye, etc. without calling me? It’s a winner for me.

        I really think you should give it another go. Or at least admit that it’s not as stinky as you say it is. For many of us, it’s awesome. So it doesn’t suck. For YOU, it sucks.

        • Thanks for the comment. I’m glad iPhoto works well for you and meets your needs. Sadly, for me and quite a few other people, it falls short in quite a few areas. OS-wide integration is indeed great, but that doesn’t make the app attached to it great. There are quite a few other apps that do everything you’re talking about better, including auto-upload and sharing in flickr that will automatically show on the Apple TV, too.

          I’m glad you wanted to see how long I’ve been using iPhoto to see if I have a complete understanding of it, and sadly I have been using iPhoto as my only source of photo management for close to 8 years now, only recently jumping ship to find better options.

          I’m glad iPhoto works for you, and I wish you the best with it.

  4. WTF Apple. Basic. Just fucking basic.

    Its a big steamy pile of shit experience . . . .iphoto, iphoto iOS, direct app synch, iTunes synch, photo stream, photo booth, photo library, and photo folders . . . . . .

    Really unbelievable. The most basic application of all media experiences, and you still don’t have it together.

    Rip all of this crap out and start over.

    • Well, I guess that’s one way of looking at it. I agree it’s a little bit much and should probably be overhauled, but I doubt that’ll happen any time soon.

  5. I actually like (or should say have gotten used to) iPhoto, especially the quick editing functions, with one big grief that still remains –
    I use laptops exclusively and since the iPhoto library is required to be on an OSX Extended disk, locating the library to a NAS is out of the question. Further, *any* network location (one could connect an OSX Extended disk to TimeCapsule and use it as a shared network drive) is not recommended as it may corrupt the DB.
    Any of these described above will provide NAS based storage? I assume Unbound should have no problem as it uses the system file structure. Anything other recommendations?

  6. I have the same comment/question as Daniel. between my wife and I, we have three Macs, 2 iPads and 2 iPhones. What I really need is a NAS based solution for storing the photos and applications that can front-end/organize the photos. one photo library to rule them all. Right now, my wife and I have disparate, disjointed libraries that have become a royal pain.

    iPhoto simply doesn’t support NAS based storage. But it seems there aren’t any obvious alternatives. The cloud based solutions are almost great, but the organization isn’t very good.

    • You could sync them all to a single cloud-based service and use the shared album feature inside of OS X to add those to a single album. This should help you see them on iOS, but for OS X you could use something like Google’s option and have it reference that single cloud-based folder for it’s library. Make sense?

  7. I hate the fact that iPhoto has stopped putting Keywords under each image as was done in previous versions of iPhoto.

    This feature is important to me. Any recommendations?

  8. I personally cannot stand iPhoto. The biggest reason is all these duplicate files that take up so much hard drive space. I also like to be in control of what’s going on. For me, iPhoto takes way too many initiatives, and they’re usually not very good.

    Picasa is probably good, but for me, right now (aug 3, 2014), Flickr blows away the competition:

    #1: Who else gives you 1 TB of online storage for free?
    #2: Who lets you open another account if you manage to run out of space?
    #3: Who else lets you upload your pictures at full resolution?
    #4: Who else has as many extensions, gadgets, widgets, apps you can use with it.
    #5. Who else gets your pictures listed on every major image search engine?
    #6. As far as image manipulation goes, I prefer to use local apps such as Photoshop or its free equivalent “The Gimp”, but I think you can do some imaging on Flickr as well (I’m not sure, but I don’t care).
    #7: Uploads are fast (if your connection is fast)

    The only other solution I can’t think of that might be better is not free, but it’s really not that expensive. If all you need to do is store images, then get a cheap shared web host account. Most now offer unlimited storage/bandwidth/domain names and they will all have at least one image management script you can install automatically. Price: $1.99-$3.99/month (forget about drop box, it’s a total ripoff). Another advantage is that you can use FTP for ever faster transfers.

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