(Damn) Aperture Keywords
If you've read any of my prior posts, you'll know I'm a big keyword user. I liberally keyword every photo in my Aperture library. Love nested keywords. Good keywords usage enables some elaborate Smart Albums. But as my workflow has become more complex, exporting and importing projects from my main library, and sourcing projects from different systems, it's necessary to take extra steps to keep a tidy keyword hierarchy.
I first noticed keyword oddities with PhotoStream. My tidy keywords hierarchy was mysteriously getting munged up. Turns out, when Aperture imports a photo that already has keywords, they are not paired up with existing keywords in your library. So I always keep my Keywords locked. Thus, keywords from incoming photos are corralled into an "(Imported Keyword)" area. If your Keywords are unlocked...well, you wind up with a jumbled mess at the top of your keyword hierarchy.
The situations I've found where "(Imported Keyword)" shows up:
- Import a photo that already has keywords applied
- Receive a photo via PhotoStream that already has keywords applied
- Merge in a library created on another system that contains keyworded photos
- Merge in a project that was previously exported as a library and had new keywords added
There's probably more. The common theme is a keyworded photo is added to, or merged into, your library. So there's cases where some post-import or post-merge keyword cleanup is needed. Let's look at an example. I took an empty library and added a single photo that had been keyworded in another library.
"(Imported Keyword)" showed up immediately after importing the photo. And as shown in the right-most Keyword HUD using the "Rocks" keyword example, the same keyword hierarchy present in the imported photo exists in my library's keywords. Aperture doesn't pair them up.
Aside: With Aperture 3.3, I've seen some improvements. I often export projects as libraries for on-the-go work. When merging back into my main Aperture library, "(Imported Keyword)" used to show up. I just did a merge with Aperture 3.3 and the keyword merge worked wonderfully - no post-merge tidy up necessary.
Another Aside: I've since identified a workaround for importing a photo with pre-existing keywords. Better IMHO than having to mess with the Keyword HUD after an import.
Also note the screen capture above are from Aperture 3.3. In prior versions of Aperture, the "(Imported Keyword)" area was a flat list of all keywords from all imported photos. When merging libraries, this list becomes quite long. With Aperture 3.3, the hierarchy of the imported keywords is maintained. While it's not a flawless merge, maintaining the hierarchy is a plus, making clean up simpler.
Any morals here? Before doing an import of keyworded photos or library merges, lock your Keywords HUD to keep the imported keywords contained in a single area. Then, after your import/merge is done, tidy up your keywords. For example:
Lastly, you can create a Smart Album to check for any photos with "(Imported Keyword)". A very simple filter:
Here's to hoping that keyword merging gets cleaner in future Aperture updates.