About Thomas Fitzgerald

Thomas is a professional fine art photographer and writer specialising in photography related instructional books as well as travel writing and street photography. 

 How I manage Photos from Multiple Applications

How I manage Photos from Multiple Applications

As anyone who has followed my blog for a while knows, I often use lots of different applications for processing my photos. This leads to the obvious conundrum of how to manage the final images. I like to keep a single library with exported Jpegs of everything, so that if anything happens I have a backup, but also so that I can easily use the files online, on social media, or easily find images for a project or client. I currently have two ways of doing this, one using Mylio, and the other using Apple Photos.

First of all, the reason that I’m using two methods is quite simple. I started using one but found that it isn’t filling all my needs, so now I’m trying the other also. I started by using Mylio for everything. It’s a great application for managing a large number of files, and it backs up to cloud services, so its great for that. I have my whole legacy library (of 5-star images) in Mylio, and it manages it fine. I have 50,000 Images in the library, and there’s no problem zipping through it to look at images or find them. It’s much faster than trying to do this in Lightroom.

Mylio Desktop Interface

In Mylio, you can set up watched folders, so it will automatically add any image that it detects being added to those folders to its library. When I’m using Lightroom, I have a smart folder set up in the “hard drive” publishing service, which is set to export 5-star images to a folder which then gets imported into Mylio. When processing out of Capture One, I have a similar set-up, with a processing recipe set to export full resolution Jpegs to a folder which is watched and then gets imported into Mylio.

There are some limitations of this though. For a start, Mylio’s mobile application is problematic. It insists on trying to download low-resolution versions of everything to your phone (based on the settings you set) and if you have thousands of images, just doing an initial sync can be almost impossible as it stops working in the background after a short period. If I want to send images to Instagram for example, I would have to manually set it to a higher resolution version, wait for it to download, then export it to the camera roll on my phone, and then go to Instagram. A much easier solution would be if my images were already in Photos.

So now, I have Photos set to import any new pictures that I’m creating. It started as an experiment, but I want to see if this will work as a full replacement for Mylio. For the moment I’m just using new images, and not trying to import the whole legacy library. 

To import automatically into Photos, you need to use some additional tools. You could set up an Automator action on a folder to do this, but I use a great little utility called “Hazel” from noodlesoft. Hazel watches folders and performs actions on the contents when new items are added. The easiest way to explain it is to think of email rules, only working on folders instead of email messages. You can set up some complex rules and actions with it, and I use it for lots of things, from automatically cleaning up my downloads folder, to filing receipts and so on. I also have it set to automatically create a Jpeg version of any screenshot I take.

Setting up a watched folder in Hazel

Setting up a watched folder in Hazel

For the purposes of working with Photos, I simply have it watch the same folders that I use for Mylio and import any new Jpegs into Photos. This works in the background, and you don’t have to worry about it. Because it works in the background and doesn’t want to use all your system resources, It is a little slow to complete though. So if you’re in a hurry to get your images into Photos, you may be better manually importing them. Even so, it’s a handy, “set it and forget it” solution. 

While I don’t use photos for much initial editing of images, it’s actually ok for managing finished Jpegs. It’s not as fast or as slick as Mylio but it has a number of big advantages. For a start, it seamlessly syncs to my other devices and computers without any input from me. I know that some people have had issues with this in the past, but I have found it rock solid in recent releases. On my laptop, I have it set to “manage storage” so it only downloads low-resolution versions until the higher ones are needed, and then it gets the higher resolution one automatically, unlike Mylio where you have to do this manually.

Searching photos for Image contents

Searching photos for Image contents

But there’s another great thing that Photos does, that’s often overlooked. It’s the machine learning based image recognition. It’s pretty amazing. Sure it’s not perfect, but it still works to a large degree, and that’s better than not having it. It recently proved very useful for me on an actual project. I was writing an article, and I needed an image of one of my cameras. I knew I had taken a good picture of it before, but I also knew I probably hadn’t keyworded or labelled it properly. So, I just typed “camera” into the Photos search field, and up it came! I thought that this was pretty amazing. It won’t find everything, but when you have a large library of images, this can be a real time saver.

Obviously, this workflow isn’t suited to everyone. There’s a degree of duplication solved so not everyone would have the space (I do it across different drives though, so it doubles as a backup), but there are aspects of this you might find useful. I can’t recommend Hazel enough though. Even if you don’t use it for this, it’s a great little application. (And no, they haven’t paid me, or even asked me for this review. I’m just a user and a fan.)


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You can also show support by buying something from my from my Digital Download Store where I have Lightroom Presets, and e-books available for download. If you're a Fuji X-Trans shooter and Lightroom user, check out my guide to post processing X-Trans files in Lightroom. I also have a guides for processing X-Trans files in Capture One and Iridient Developer. For Sony Alpha shooters I have a new guide with tips on how to get the best from processing your A6000 Images in Lightroom.

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