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First look: Photos for OS X brings easier navigation and more powerful editing

Christopher Breen | Feb. 6, 2015
Last June, Apple announced that it would stop development of its Aperture and iPhoto apps and offer a single photo app in their place--Photos for OS X. Today, developers are getting their first glimpse of Photos, as it's bundled with the beta version of OS X 10.10.3.

And you don't lose anything in transit. Images are stored in their original format and resolution — including raw images. And speaking of raw images, it's important to note that if you import a lot of large raw images and movies into Photos and then choose to store them in the cloud, you may be looking at purchasing additional iCloud storage. When you enable the iCloud Photo Library option, Photos will estimate how much iCloud storage you'll need to store your current library in the cloud and provide a way for you to purchase more storage if that library is larger than your available iCloud storage.

You're given 5GB of free iCloud storage when you sign up for an account, but if you need more storage you'll have to pay for it — $0.99 a month for an additional 20GB, $3.99 a month for an additional 200GB, $9.99 a month for an additional 500GB, and $19.99 a month for 1TB of additional storage. Again, iCloud storage is optional. You can continue to store your images on your Mac as you always have.

Project enhancements

Photos also spruces up iPhoto and Aperture's projects. The book creation tools are now more streamlined — hiding the layout options until you need them, for example — and adding a new Square book format (20 pages in an 8 x 8 inch format for $24.99 and a 20 page 10 x 10 inch book for $39.99 with additional pages priced at $0.79 and $0.99 respectively). Compared to iPhoto, Photos in its current incarnation has lost some of the previous book themes but added a couple of new ones including Bento Box and Travelogue. Additional themes can be downloaded as they become available.

Slideshows can now be configured from within a drop-down window rather than propelling you into a full-screen slideshow window with a small slideshow window appearing within it. As with books, slideshows within the beta version have fewer themes with a couple of new additions. As before, you can export slideshows as movies.

Photos also offers an option for printing the panorama images you've taken with your iOS device. You can choose prints up to 36-inches wide. You can also order square prints if you've chosen to shoot images that way on your iPhone.

Moving from iPhoto/Aperture to Photos

When you install Photos you'll be offered the option to import your iPhoto library. (If you have more than one iPhoto library, Photos will ask you to choose one to import.) You can also import an Aperture library.

Opening one of these libraries in Photos doesn't duplicate your existing images. You won't find one set of images in an iPhoto library and another in a Photos library. Instead, the apps will look for images within a single library. Additionally, iPhoto and Aperture don't become unusable after you've launched Photos. You'll be asked which app you'd like to use with your images. You can choose iPhoto, if you like, with the caveat that any edits you make in a particular app — iPhotos or Photos — will appear only within the app you used to apply them. So, if you convert an image in Photos to black and white and then open that same image in iPhoto, you'll see the unedited original color version.


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