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Managed vs. Referenced Files in Aperture

In my inaugural post, I mentioned I'd just shifted my Aperture library from managed to referenced. There's plenty of resources that describe the differences between the two - my favorite being the video tutorial from Joseph Linaschke he's graciously made public. Aperture makes it very easy to switch between managed and referenced (and back again if desired), so making the switch was reasonably painless.

But I want to talk about a quirk with the relocation...maybe more of a best practice to avoid missing some master images. I'm on Aperture 3.1.3 and I've noticed the relocation option in the File menu is slightly different depending on where your last click is prior to the relocation operation. When you click or select photos in the project, you'll see "Relocate Master(s)..." vs. when you click on the project itself, you'll see "Relocate Masters for Project...":

Clicked on photo in project

Clicked on photo in project

Clicked on project itself  

Clicked on project itself

 

At first, I was clearing any filters I had set for the project, doing Edit -> Select All, and the File -> Relocate Masters. As I progressed through my library, the reduction in size of my library didn't feel right. And then it dawned on me...I use stacks quite often. And unless I ensure that all stacks are open prior to doing the Select All, only the stack pick is selected. And as such, the masters for all the other photos in the stack weren't relocated. OK...that makes sense.

So click the project first, then use Relocate Masters for Project. Save yourself a headache. As a cross-check, I created a simple smart album to look for any photos that are managed:

Smart Album Managed Masters.png

I've added the File Status rule and set it to look for "Managed" files. I check this periodically and expect this album to be empty.

And why did you switch, you may ask? My primary reason for switching is to keep my library size small. For me, I don't want multiple libraries of managed photos. I have young children, and I can see a time in the future when I want to pull together an album or book of photos across their young years. Multiple libraries make that more challenging. Beyond that, with large libraries, I would expect Aperture to be slower as the library grows.

So I went referenced. Yes, the backup of the masters is "on my head" and not part of Aperture's vaults. But I backup the rest of my system anyway (if you don't, you should :). I still use vaults as another safeguard, and vault updates are much faster now. After moving to referenced, my vault dropped to ~4.5GB from ~27GB. The RAW master files accounted for the bulk of my library.