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Creating & Managing Aperture 2 Smart Albums

April 29, 2009 by debbie T | Aperture 2Digital PhotographyMac Software

Bart Busschots and Allison Sheridan were discussing Aperture 2 on the Nosillacast podcast this week, and Bart was complaining about the way Smart Albums were working (or not working) for him. I think I have a solution to his problem.

My Aperture 2 Inspector Folder Structure

First, let me share what my own Aperture 2 folder structure looks like.


1 – The default Library directory. I almost always keep the default Library compacted (hidden). The only time I ever look in the Library is to view my "rejected" photos to delete them all at once.
2 – I created my own "All Photos" folder where I keep everything organized.
3 & 5 – Sub-folders are created to categorize my photos.
4 & 6 – Inside the sub-folders are my Smart Albums and my specific Projects.

Using Smart Albums in Aperture 2

If you have previously used Mac software like iTunes or iPhoto, you probably already know what a Smart Album is. To review, a Smart Album is an easy way to sort through your photos, only displaying the ones fitting certain criteria. The Smart Album saves the search and adds and removes photos as they are added or edited.

For example, if you want to view all photos taken in a specific timeline, or photos set with specific keywords, (or both) use a Smart Album.

To create a new Smart Album, click File>New Smart>Album


It’s very important to note where your Smart Album is created, as that is the location where the album will search. For example, if you want the Smart Album to search through all your photos, the Smart Album needs to be created in your uppermost Library or Folder. If you want it to only search through a particular folder or project, create it there. I haven’t tried it, but I bet you can also create a Smart Album that searches through another Smart Album.

By default, the Smart Album will be named "Untitled Smart Album" and will be positioned alphabetically. Rename the album to something more descriptive.


Aperture 2 offers a few default search settings like Rating, Calendar (date), Keywords, etc, but there’s much much more to choose. Click the little + button to search through virtually every bit of meta you can think of.

You can click the + as many times as needed to create more criteria for your search.

I want my Smart Album to only include photos shot with a particular lens, so I chose "Exif"


There are several ways to search for lens data, but in this situation, I am choosing "Lens Minimum mm"


then I typed "100" so only photos using a lens with a minimum mm of 100 will be included.


Once your Smart Album settings have been applied, you can go back and edit them at any time. Click the little "search" icon next to the Smart Album and the Settings window will reappear.


If you find yourself using the same type of search settings, don’t waste time creating new Smart Albums, right click on a Smart Album and choose “Duplicate Smart Album”

Organizing & Managing the Smart Albums

Now here is where I think Bart was missing an important feature.

It can become cumbersome to have a bunch of Smart Album in your work space. So, I keep mine organized in their own sub-folder.

Aperture 2 allows each Smart Album to work in its own little contained world, so to speak. I just moved my new Smart Album into another sub-folder, and it did not change the search settings.


No matter where the Smart Album is moved, the original search criteria remains unchanged. In this situation, my smart setting for "All Photos" remained the same, even though it’s no longer located in the All Photos folder.


Isn’t that awesome!

So, Bart, I hope this will help. Just remember to create your Smart Albums where you want them to search; then move them to where you want them to live afterward.

Other Resources:
Apple.com Tutorial – Organizing Albums

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