Review of the new Photos App for Mac OSX

The latest update for your Apple devices has a big update for all of us photo/creative/blogging gurus...the new Photos app for OSX!  Now Jess is not the most eager to install those pesky "software updates," but I am always eager to feel out new features...and I've decided to share my first thoughts with you!  Apple is replacing both iPhoto and Aperture with Photos, so this is a pretty significant update.  We manage all of our client photos in Adobe Lightroom, but our daily photos Jess and I rely heavily on our iPhones, and having a convenient way to manage these and our other personal photos is certainly a welcome idea!

To get started, you'll need to update your iOS software on the iPhone and iPad, and update the latest OSX (don't worry, it's free!).  The old iPhoto app on your computer will be replaced with a new app called Photos.  DISCLAIMER: I was never a real user of iPhoto, so I am not sure what the transition is like.  Just like with any software update, make sure you back up your computer first!  (Of course you're already doing that after the last Workflows post, right? :-)  )

Same Experience across devices

Something I really appreciate about Apple's recent updates is their streamlining of the user experience across different devices.  I frequently use Handoff to move web browsing from my phone to my laptop, SMS relay to allow texting from my laptop, and Airdrop.  Photos brings the familiar interface from the iOS Photos app to the desktop.  As you can see below, the desktop app now uses the familiar photo organization of Photos on iOS.  This is great!  





iCloud Photo Library

One of the main core features of Photos is the use of the iCloud Photo Library to sync your photos across your Apple devices and to  All of this happens automatically, which is a huge added convenience.  Your photos are also now available on any browser at  We are always looking to streamline our business workflow, so having photos loaded up on my computer automatically is very appealing, BUT... I don't like that this feature only works through the iCloud storage product.  I have a huge amount of data in the cloud with Dropbox, Google, Amazon, and Adobe Creative Cloud.  Where Apple gets you is that you only get 5 GB of iCloud storage for free.  Apple is leveraging their multi-platform software to push users to using their cloud service.  I guess I should just bite the bullet and pay for another cloud service, but it is a little annoying that I need to pay for their service and can't use any other services.  Oh well, the price of convenience...right?




When you open a a single photo, you have the option to mark it as a favorite, view metadata, add it to an album or project, share it to a variety of locations, or edit it.  The sharing option provides a decent about of destinations, but I'd love to see an "Add to Folder" or similar option for working with batches of photos.  I'm not sure why Apple left the Apple TV Photo Sharing in iTunes with this new software.  Admittedly I am not the biggest iTunes user, but COME ON! It's 2015, let's get the image functions into one app and music functions into another.  A "Share with Apple TV" option would be a fantastic update to Photos.

The Facebook Share option is convenient-ish. Using the built-in OSX Facebook interface, it is easy to send one photo or a whole album to Facebook with just a few clicks. This is a quick way to move a group of photos to Facebook, but it is lacking in several ways:

  • No ability to create a new album.  Your pictures can be sent to the Timeline or an existing personal album.  This is a tripping point for me because if I'm going to go create a new album "Key West 2015" in Facebook, I'm probably just going to upload my photos via the native Facebook photo uploader, which has gotten to be a pretty useful tool.
  • I can't set the album cover photo.
  • I can't tag people.
  • I can only set a location for the album, not individual photos.
  • Probably the biggest complaint: NO SUPPORT FOR BUSINESS PAGES!  This isn't an issue for personal users, but if you're a blogger/photographer/creative business owner, this feature would be HUGE!

Overall I am a fan of the sharing options.  I use iCloud Photo Sharing to share photos with family or friends that I don't want to share with the whole world.  This app also makes it easier for the casual photographer to actually DO SOMETHING with their photos after they are downloaded from the camera.  With the iCloud Photo Library, those pictures can be synced to all of your devices, or you have this variety of sharing options.  Does your grandma have a Facebook?  Mine sure does.  Come on folks, share those Beach Trip 2014 photos that are still on your camera's memory card!

Simple Editing Features

Apple provides a fair selection of editing tools in Photos.  As you can see, there is a one-click Enhance option, as well as Crop, Rotate, Filters, Adjust, Retouch, and Red-eye options.  Old Apple Aperture users are getting the short end of the stick here, these editing features are not nearly as powerful as the the old app.  I showed these to Jess and she made a good point that VSCOCam (Free, iOS and Android) on her phone still has more editing power.  A big benefit of the Photos edits is that they sync across your devices via iCloud, which may help cut down on emailing yourself photos to post on Instagram or share later from your phone.

Top row: No filter, Enhanced, Mono, Tonal, Noir  Bottom row: Fade, Chrome, Process, Transfer, Instant

Top row: No filter, Enhanced, Mono, Tonal, Noir

Bottom row: Fade, Chrome, Process, Transfer, Instant


Overall I am happy that Apple is taking a solid step forward in bringing a cohesive user interface to the photo process across various platforms.  I'm feeling a unwillingly forced into Apple's paid iCloud storage platforms, but as Jess went through the setup process and quickly tapped a paid plan, she politely suggested that I stop being so 'cheap'.  I am happy that with this new app it is a little bit easier to manage and share my photos across my devices and share them with people in different ways.  I'd like to see some improvements made to Facebook Share, but this is a good start for non-business users.  The available editing features are reasonable for a free piece of software, but I am Apple Aperture users will lose out on advanced editing features.  I'm looking forward to seeing what improvements are made with Version 2.0.

What do you think about the new Apple Photos?  Are you on the cutting edge and already using the new program, or are you dragging your feet before you upgrade OSX?  I'd love to hear what you think in the comments below, or find me (Will) on Twitter @vtngnr.