For my photo post processing software, currently Aperture is my program of choice. However it is extremely slow with my computer. I consider myself having a decent piece of hardware. I'm using the iMac i5 2.9Ghz, 24Gb ram, GTX 665M 512Mb, Fusions drive. The actual photo library itself is on an SSD thunderbolt external drive.

There are mainly two performance problems. The first one is that as I browse from one photo to another, after a while the program becomes a drag. I suspect this is some sort of memory leak issue. Because if I restart the program, everything is fine again (until another 30-40 photos browsed). I'm not sure there's a solution to this as it is most likely the program's fault. Increasing the ram (I used to only have 8Gb ram now increased to 24Gb) basically buys me more time before the performance hits but the problem is still there.

The second performance issue is that, during editing everything is extremely unresponsive. So if I zoom in and started applying brush, it's almost always a 1-2 second delay before the live view is updated. As a few layers are applied, it gets worse and worse. Eventually toggling a layer (or brick in Aperture's term) will take 5-10 seconds for it to be reflected in the photo. Will a hardware change improve this?

  • \$\begingroup\$ @dpollitt - not exactly sure I'd call a 512mb graphics card worthy of any kind of gaming machine, but your point is still valid. \$\endgroup\$
    – AJ Henderson
    May 13, 2013 at 15:48
  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ Overall that is quite a nice piece of hardware, hardly just "decent" I would say to run something like Apple Aperture. It is probably more high end. See if this existing question helps you at all - photo.stackexchange.com/questions/9381/… \$\endgroup\$
    – dpollitt
    May 13, 2013 at 16:25
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Think your situation could be better tackled at superuser.com as this seems to me to be needing some troubleshooting on hardware, (perhaps memory) and its not on the software side as the specs for Aperture are not very demanding (apple.com/ca/aperture/specs) compared to what you have. Is the machine slow only for Aperture or for other programs as well? \$\endgroup\$
    – Regmi
    May 13, 2013 at 16:53
  • \$\begingroup\$ i use similar hardware and get the same issues periodically with aperture. this tends to happen most when there are a large amount of files in the trash - emptying it does help. the other thing that slows aperture down to a stand still is time machine kicking in a back up. when i'm working in aperture i have learnt to cancel the backup until i'm done. \$\endgroup\$ May 13, 2013 at 21:13
  • \$\begingroup\$ @stephencosh - I use TimeMachineEditor to make sure that Time Machine runs, but runs less often than 1/hr. It's definitely the case for me that heavy disk activity slows down everything. (My situation: laptop, quad i7, 16 GB ram, 128 GB ssd + 1 TB hdd.) Also, I would keep Activity Monitor up & running at all times, so you can quickly see what programs are using CPU. And install something like MenuMeters or iStatMenus to also be able to quickly see when your CPU is busy. Maybe the problem is mds (search indexing) -- I would tell it not to bother indexing photos. \$\endgroup\$
    – Michael H.
    May 14, 2013 at 2:43

2 Answers 2


I'm using Aperture on a much slower machine: a 2007 iMac (Core 2 Duo with 4GB RAM).

The Aperture library is on the internal hard drive, but the originals are on an external USB 2.0 hard disk.

Performance isn't stellar, but acceptable. Sometimes it takes a tad longer to go to the next photo, and a few times it froze and I had to force quit it, but I don't see the extreme and predictable slowdown that you describe.

I've about 36,000 images in the library, mostly around 4-5 MB JPEG, although there are some 12 MB images as well. Maybe it's different if you have larger (RAW) images.

Before that, I had Aperture briefly on a 2006 MacBook. This was too slow. However this might have been mainly due to a dying hard disk. So check the health of your disk.


Where is your scratch drive? While your files may be on a fast drive, eventually your software is going to have to cache the results of processing somewhere. That's normally done to a scratch drive/folder somewhere. I don't know Aperture specifically, but this is generally a setting somewhere in the software. If your scratch drive is slow and/or highly fragmented then you would see a slow down when it starts using the scratch drive.

This also makes sense with the fact that the memory made it take longer to start being a problem since it could work in memory longer before having to make use of a scratch drive.


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