I'm still not quite sure I understand the way Aperture manages the library. I've been telling it to put all the pictures I import into a specific directory in a new project-named folder, but if I understand correctly I could have all the files in that single library container (why I would want that, I don't know). Add to that masters and stacks: Aren't all the images I upload masters? I understand that the concept of a stack is the master and all it's versions, but why then can I "autostack" things I upload?

Can someone explain this in an easy to understand manner?


1 Answer 1


Having all the files in the one single container is easy when you want to move or copy your library to another system. Then there's just the library, nothing more. It's inconvenient however, if you want access to your files from other applications. I myself have all files in the single container, back from the days when I copied libraries back and forth between my MacBook Air and my iMac. I do keep multiple libraries however, one per year.

Stacks can be a master and all its versions, but you can basically stack any group of images you want. I typically use stacks if I take multiple shots of one subject (something the autostack function can do, based on time) or if pictures really belong together, like the shots that make up a panorama image.

All the images you import into your library are masters. Versions are variations on your master. The master image is never altered; aperture just stores the adjustments you made to the master image. This is great for experimenting with your images without it costing tons of disc space.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Thanks! That's a great explanation of stacks. Also do you find that your libraries get to be too large to move around if you keep the images in the library? \$\endgroup\$
    – morganpdx
    Dec 27, 2010 at 17:27
  • \$\begingroup\$ They do get rather large, and I stopped moving complete libraries around, if possible. In aperture 3 it's possible to export a single project as a library and import it into another library. When transferring photo's, that's now my preferred way to do it. \$\endgroup\$
    – Emiel
    Dec 31, 2010 at 10:45

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