Aperture 3 Smart Album Basics

by Mike on August 10, 2010

One of the best features in Aperture is smart albums. In fact, I need to use them more myself because they are one of the best ways to keep your image library organized.

What is a smart album?

A smart album is a virtual-photo album that automatically updates itself according to a set of criteria you define. The benefit to smart albums is they allow you to quickly access specific groups of photos that are not worth putting into a separate project.

The possibilities are endless.

Let’s say you have a vacation project in Aperture 3 which the photos from all your trips. In seconds, you can program a smart album to do the following:

  • Display only photos rated 4 stars or above
  • Display 3 star photos that contain the keyword “France” and which were taken in 2006
  • Display photos in RAW format that have not been edited
  • Display 5 star photos taken with an Aperture of f/2.8
  • Display photos taken on June 12th with your Pentax camera set on Tungsten white balance

You get the idea.

How to Create a Smart Album

First, select a the Project for which you’d like to create a smart album.

I chose my Street project, which is where I stick all my street photos. You can also create smart albums for folders or your entire library if you wish.

So I clicked on my Street project as you can see here:

Then, I use the keyboard shortcut Command + Shift + L to create a smart album.

I put this all in one screen to keep it simple:

I named my smart album Best of 2010. You can see in the criteria box that I selected photos dated after 12/31/2009, and a rating above 3 stars. Aperture took all the photos that fit that criteria, and added them to that smart album so any time I want to see 3+ star-rated photos from this year, I won’t have to bother with a regular search.

Plus, if I add anything to my Street project that fits the criteria, they’ll be added to the smart album automatically – that’s why they’re called smart!

If I ever want to change my Smart Album’s criteria, I click on the magnifying glass, which brings up the criteria box again. For example, I realize now that I should have specified the date as taking place in 2010 – not just after 2009. I can fix that in two seconds by just clicking the magnifying class and making the change.

There is an “Add Rule” Dropdown menu in the upper-right hand corner that you can use to add more rules to the selection criteria, including adjustments, file type, metadata, etc. – the list just goes on and on and on.

So that’s it – Smart Albums are pretty simple to create, but they go a long way towards keeping your image library organized in Aperture.

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Pedro Martins December 26, 2010 at 6:24 pm

Hi! Those are great tips!

Do you know if there’s a way to make a smart album with only photos that were edited or modified in the last month, for exemple? I think we can only set if adjustments are applied or not, and which are they…


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