iPhoto Sucks: Replace it With These iPhoto Alternatives

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[Updated: December 16, 2014]

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.

Lyn – $20 (Free Trial)

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Built to be lightweight and very fast, Lyn is another iPhoto alternative with some solid photo editing tools, the ability to easily share files, innovative geotagging features, and a few other nifty enhancements. For instance, the software includes the ability to geotag photos through a simple drag-and-drop interface on a map, and includes non-destructive editing to ensure that you can always revert back to a previous version. Other nice features include smart folders for organizing your files, compatibility with Aperture, Lightroom, and iPhoto libraries, and even an integrated video player.Users can share files to Flickr, Facebook, and Dropbox, and can even edit metadata tags on multiple files at the same time.

If you value speed, efficiency and simplicity, then Lyn just might be you new favorite photo editing app. The free-trial version gives you 15 days to try it out for yourself before purchasing.

Photoscape X – Free

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If you’re looking for a photo editing app with lots of extra features, than look no further than Photoscape X. This software has a host of typical editing tools such as the ability to crop, rotate, resize, and straighten, but it can also adjust contrast levels, correct backlight problems, and balance colors. This easy to use program comes with a host of filters that can be automatically applied to your photos, and can batch-edit files for renaming, resizing, or changing formats too. It offers the ability to share via email and social media, as well as the option for creating animated GIF’s too.

But where Photoscape X truly shines is with its collage tool, which allows photographers to merge multiple photos into a single image, which can than be printed as well. The ability to combine photos in this manner is a bit unique in this level of photo editing software, and is a nice feature to have at your disposal.

 

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.

Comments

  1. Frank says

    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?

    • says

      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.

    • John says

      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.

      • says

        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. Bib says

    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.

    • says

      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.

      • Crow says

        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.

        • says

          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.

      • Jennifer Snyder says

        It’s not tricking it to work. The bottom line is Apple can’t make a program that works just like everyone want it to work. They made it work a certain way and if you take the time to figure out how it works it can work beautifully. The old adage “you can please some people some of the time but you can’t please all people all of the time.” fits perfectly for many programs like iPhoto. There is never one program that will do what every person wants it to do. The following post on the Mac Rumors forum is the best I have ever seen so far, I wish I know who the author was so I could give credit.

        ??I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. Use iPhoto to ORGANIZE your photos.
        And the key to organizing your photos is Faces, Places, Keywords, and Ratings.??But you like folder structures, you say. Well, what is a folder structure other than a graphical representation of a database that tracks your photos as bits on your hard drive. Using folders doesn’t tell you where your bits are. On the Mac, the bits are converted to a graphical representation (folders and files) by an application called the Finder. The whole idea behind the Finder is to help you keep track of your files (or photos in this case). And the idea works pretty well if you don’t have too many files. But after a while, it doesn’t matter how organized you are, you still have to remember the paths to your files, or increasingly improve your organization over time as you add files and folders. Enter Aperture and iPhoto.??With the advent of digital photography, the number of files (i.e. photos) on our computers has increased exponentially. I have over 25,000 photos on my Mac, and I’m not even an avid photographer! How could anyone manage that many photos in any useful manner using a folder structure? And by useful, I mean more than to store them on your computer and never look at them again. The simple answer is, you can’t.??If your only goal is to transfer you photos to your computer, file them by date, and then never use them again, then, yes, you can successfully use a folder structure. But, if your wife’s birthday is coming up, for example, and you want to show every 4 and/or 5 star photo she is in, then a folder structure simply fails. Here’s another example: your anniversary is coming up, and you want to create a slideshow with every 5 star photo that contains the two of you. Will a folder structure help with that? Or, you’re hosting a dinner party and you want something to occupy that big-screen TV in your living room. Can a folder structure help you find every good photo that contains at least one of your guests? Nope.??So, what can you do? The answer is easy: Events, Faces, Places, Keywords, and Ratings! It takes a bit of work, but if you want to do anything with your photos other than file them away, then the work is well worth the reward.??Here is how I go about using these tools:
        Import photos.
        Delete junk.
        Split or combine events as needed. I tend to be an Event minimalist. For example, I don’t make the photos I took of my daughter at McDonald’s an event. Things like that get grouped into a “Winter 2014” event. Christmas photos often span a month or more, from cutting the tree to packing everything up, and they all get lumped into one of tree “Christmas” events based on the branch of the family they relate to..
        Set Keywords. I try to keep my keyword list to a minimum. For example, I have a keyword for “Vacation”, but I don’t use keywords for the location of the vacation (that’s taken care of with the Places feature). Another example: I have a keyword for “Birthday”, but I don’t have keywords for the person or the year (those are taken care of with the Faces feature, and the fact that all the photos are dated already).
        Rate the best as 4 or 5 stars, and if I need to keep a bad photo for some reason, I rate it as 1 star. I don’t bother rating photos as 2 or 3 stars, but you can if you want.
        Name the Faces. I only do this with the people I care about and delete the box around people that I don’t care about (this prevents them from showing up as suggestions when you’re viewing a person’s photos).
        Set the location. This is very important for travel photos, but is also handy for others as well. If you want a really good reason to set the travel photos, pick a trip, do the work of setting the location of each photo, and then start the Travel slide show. The Travel slide show is really cool!
        ?Now, with all this info set (called metadata in computer parlance), I can use Smart Albums to great effect.
        I have a smart album the contains all photos of my daughter that I’ve rated as 5 starts. This album is automatically synched to my iPhone, my wife’s iPhone, my iPad, and our AppleTV. Every time I import a photo into iPhoto and mark my daughter’s face and rate the photo as five stars, the photo is automatically sent to all our devices when we synch. Super easy!
        I have smart albums with Christmas photos for each branch of our family. So, when someone comes over for the holidays, I can easily show that part of the family’s Christmas photos on the TV. We don’t just sit around and watch the slide show all night, but the photos are there if people want to look and they add a nice touch to an otherwise empty sheet of dark glass. So, the Jones Christmas smart album has photos from 1972 to present, and only contain Jones family Christmas photos.
        That’s just a few things to keep in mind. I’ve found that combining Events and Smart Albums with Faces, Places, Keywords, and Ratings, I rarely need to create traditional folders or albums. And finding photos to suite the moment is not nearly as difficult as a folder structure would be.

  3. dbslims says

    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.

    • says

      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.

  4. Daniel says

    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?

  5. Bobby says

    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.

    • says

      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?

  6. Bob says

    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?

    • Jason says

      this completely screwed me too. I used iphoto in my research to sort thousands of microscopy images of cancer based on the intensity of molecular markers expressed by the tumor cells. Was great, now I am back to viewing the image and recording the data by hand. Thank you apple for fixing something that wasn’t broken.

  7. Alex says

    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.

  8. Sue Rohlicek says

    Apparently it is a multi-step process to save a photo that someone has emailed to me. I have to agree that iPhoto sucks.

  9. Reece says

    Wife is a 10 year iphoto user and has over 300,000 images that take up about 1.5TB of storage. Years ago we blew out the 500GB onboard HD and had to put the iphoto libtary on an external. First to a 1TB then to a 2TB firewire Lacie. Add another 2TB external for backup and you can imagine how slow this setup grinds. She likes Iphoto for it’s features, resists change, is not willing to trim the size of the library, and relies on me to solve the space problem. Time machine recently stopped doing backups because it blew out the 2TB drive I was using. I’m shopping for 4TB and 5TB drives but that’s just prolonging the problem by stuffing 100lbs into a 5lb bag if you catch my drift. What I need is something that can do the heavy lifting but I’m not sure there are many applications out there that can handle this evergrowing number of images. Anyone out there know of a solution other than to just keep throwing storage at the problem and killing the performance?

    • Chris says

      Splitting a very huge >1TB iPhoto library up into multiple smaller >100GB iPhoto libraries (maybe by years, themes, events or locations) has actually significantly helped getting back to an acceptable iPhoto performance.

  10. Martin C-B says

    Hi Problems with iPhoto – why yes

    I love apple products but iPhoto is a seriously bad product. I am not a professional photographer, but I have a Digital SLR as well as iPhone and iPad. I also like some other readers have over 3TB of images some from my pre-apple days (god forbid). I need to be able to do what I want with the pictures not have them automatically in a strange database with an unusable file extension.
    One of the reasons I bought my Mac was because it is always recommended by professional photographers. Can someone please tell me what they use to manage their images, because it sure isn’t iPhoto with Aperture. Nor I suspect is it the products listed above – good as they may genuinely be.

  11. Ron says

    This is my first Mac and only because the owner of my company bought it for me. I have figured most of it out. But I have to say iPhoto sucks compared to PC. Even Windows is easier than iPhoto. I just tried to view my dash camera and it hung up trying to load. Finally got it to load and it won’t let me view without downloading. I don’t want 15 gigs of useless video to find the 2 minutes I want. I can’t delete the files from the micro sd. I gave up and plugged it into my wife’s HP and seconds later found the part I wanted and deleted the other files. I hate that the main file keeps every picture. I’d rather they were in the folders I want to put them in. I don’t need 2 copies of every picture on my device. I document builds and this won’t let me put the pictures in the order I want. Not by date, or size but by sections of the build. I don’t use the cloud and never upload. Getting an app for the pictures and sending iPhoto into retirement.

  12. UD says

    I have been using a third party cataloguing program for nearly 10 years- right after my 1st unfavorable experiences with iPhoto. I know that Apple wants us to work and play and not worry about HD space, but even in todays day and age of cheap storage, those of us with many photos will hit a wall. And with iPhotos proprietary photo hogging, your HD will fill up way before it should (iPhoto usually saves all old versions of edited photos, easily doubling your photo data base). Using the FINDER and making my own file structure that is clearly labeled and manicured is the only way I’ve been able to trim the bloat, and go years longer before purchasing a new HD.

    So I make my files/folders as follows:

    2015/
    01 Jan
    02 Feb
    etc…

    Even better, I do:

    2015/
    01 JAN
    02 New Years Party pics
    03 Jesse’s bday
    04 Another Event
    05 and another
    06 FEB
    07 First 2 weeks in feb vacation pics
    08 fsdiijsidjf
    09 MARCH
    …and so on.
    Significant Events get folders, and are easy to find based on date.
    All random photos through out the month go in the main month folder.

    This so far has worked awesome.

    Then I need a photo managing program to simply read and display this higherarchy.
    iView Media Pro was my weapon of choice, before it turned into it’s latest incarnate, MEDIA PRO.
    And all basic photo editing, red eye, tagging, cropping, correcting, emailing, BATCH resizing and more makes this my flagship goto for viewing my photos.

    Main advantage?: Your main Photo folder can now live on your HD, or on any external anywhere, as the program simply reads the structure you build. And should the database file saved by the program should become lost or corrupt it has ABSOLUTELY NO BEARING on the folder and photos- they still exist. This happens to me now and then, as I believe this program is old and no longer supported or updated.

    So if you are a control freak about your photo storage like I am, know that this software handles all common functions without meddling. iPhoto is too hands on with my images!

    So- now I search for a CURRENT program to meet my needs, hopefully something and full featured yet “hands off of my photos” as Media Pro. Downloading Picaca- wish me luck!
    -UD

  13. Anwar Tadros says

    I had organized all my last 10 years of i photos in albums and now I can’t view any of the albums
    Went to visit a friend and was that I have over 120 g in I photos.
    Now I can’t view my old albums I organized.
    Any idea what I need to do
    Thank you

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