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Import photos into iPhoto keeping previous structure as found in finder.

Posted on 2010-08-18
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Last Modified: 2013-12-04
I'm migrating a Windows user to the Mac. They previously held all their photos across multiple folders on their computer. This method of organization created a lot of duplicates, but worked for them since sometimes photos would need to be in different folders based on the subject/event (which could naturally have multiple methods of categorization). They also utilize some sub-folders.

I first copied all their photos to the Mac finder. I then dragged each folder to the sidebar in iPhoto, which created an album. This proved tedious as they had hundreds of folders. I then found a script at http://bit.ly/aK3CfW that did this for me. Both of these methods however would ask me if I wanted to import a duplicate, and when selecting 'no,' would fail to put the image in multiple albums.

For example, if I had 2 folders with the same photos and wanted 2 different albums (both with the same photos), it wouldn't let me automate this some how. I would have to create a duplicate if I wanted it to work.

Does anyone know of a better way to accomplish what I'm after?
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Question by:baadayakazi
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by:MBobrek
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1. You could run that script and allow for duplicates - that's the obvious
2. iPhoto can have photos associated with more than one event, grouping, etc.  

For example:  I have only ONE photo in my folder.  I can tag it by two seperate events, three, whichever.  I can also tag it by each individual face.  So in theory, that one photo can appear in a dozen or more "categories".  

iPhoto is best utilized with one copy of the image.  When taking the time to configure it properly and associating events, faces, etc., it's an excellent tool.  

In short, I'd import one folder at a time from the beginning, show them how to add faces, event folders, etc (Manual OR smart folders), and teach them to take their time.  In the end, they will be happy without duplicates but having them associated with all the proper categories.
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by:baadayakazi
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Your solutions are certainly good for the longterm. However, I need to just put the folders in as albums for the time being. The user would be a little frustrated having to work through the other options.

They have about 30,000 photos and over 600 folders.
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by:MBobrek
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It sounds like that method is, in fact, the best method. I would, however, check yes to duplicates to retain the structure if the photos being in all the events. I had done this before, granted on a smaller scale and it worked.

The alternative would be to deal with each folder individually. But with 600 folders, I'm sure that's very tedious.
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Author Comment

by:baadayakazi
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Is there an option to allow it to import the duplicates, then some sort of script that can run through and remove the duplicates from the library, but still reference the "duplicate" across the albums?

For instance, let's say I imported a folder (by dragging into album area) with a photo named PHOTO_1.JPG, then I import a second folder that had photos called PHOTO_1.JPG and PHOTO_2.JPG. I check to allow importing of duplicates, meaning that I now have 2 copies of of PHOTO_1.JPG. Is there something I can do to remove one of the PHOTO_1.JPG files, yet still retain representations of it in both albums?
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by:evanmcnally
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You can use Duplicate Annihilator (http://www.brattoo.com/propaganda/#duplicate_annihilator) to detect duplicates after the fact and then to delete them or simply to append/replace their keywords.  

Using a duplicate highlighting keyword, you can then do some filtering and sorting based on keyword and at least know easily which photos are duplicates and will need manual handling.

None of this truly does what you want, but the thing with structured data is that it's hard to create with a mess of non-stuctured data.  Not to bash the user you are helping, but they sort of already made their bed and have to lie in it.  

Are you sure your user will care one way or the other?  If having tons of duplicates did not bother them the first time why not just import it all including dupes and show them how to do it correctly going forward.  Having dupes would bother me, but some people do not really care so make sure you are not aiming higher than what the user needs/cares about.


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baadayakazi earned 0 total points
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I ended up finding a good solution through using iPhoto Library Manager's merge libraries option. It allows you to not import duplicates, but keep album structure.
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Author Closing Comment

by:baadayakazi
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Other solutions did not answer my question.
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