Aperture 3.5 Offers the Best Range of Photo and Editing Tools for the Mac

Bakari Chavanu 12-11-2013

Despite being intended for professionals, any Mac user who shoots and edits lots of photos would do well to upgrade to Apple’s professional photo editor, Aperture ($79.99).


If you have used iPhoto or an online photo manager like More Than Photo Sharing: 5 Unique Uses for Flickr Flickr is best known as one of the easiest ways to share and store your photos online. We've come up with a few unique ways you can get more out of Flickr that go beyond... Read More  , you have no doubt experienced workflow gaps that a program like Aperture can fulfill. This advanced editor allows you to batch process photos, apply preset adjustments and photo effects, back up your photo library on a separate drive, and much more.

These abundant features are why we have added Aperture to our Best of Mac software The Best Mac Apps to Install on Your MacBook or iMac Looking for the best apps for your MacBook or iMac? Here's our comprehensive list of the best apps for macOS. Read More  page.

From iPhoto to Aperture

iPhoto A Cleaner, Faster iPhoto: Upgrade to Photos for OS X Yosemite Photos for OS X has finally arrived, replacing iPhoto with an image management application that Mac users will actually want to use — but is there enough here to satisfy Aperture refugees? Read More is a great program for editing and managing photos if you’re only shooting a handful of images on a regular basis. But if you’re adding hundreds of photos to your library on a monthly basis, you definitely should consider stepping up to Aperture. It includes all the features of iPhoto, but its editing and batch processing capabilities make Aperture more useful.

You can actually merge your iPhoto library into a new Aperture library, or you can open your iPhoto library within Aperture, so there’s no problem working between the two programs. The user interfaces of both applications are not that vastly different. They both contain a sidebar of albums and a larger viewer window. Where Aperture takes off is the wide range of adjustments for editing and enhancing your photos, including proper RAW editing right within the editor.

Aperture interface


Adjustment Settings

Aperture contains most of the advanced exposure editing and enhancement tools that you find in Photoshop, including curves, levels, noise reduction, white balance correction, edge sharpening, and highlight and shadow adjustments.

Aperture adjustments

You can selectively copy and apply adjustments to one or more photos at a time, and easily disable applied adjustments in the side panel. You can also add the adjustment tools you most use to the side panel, and include selected adjustments in your Favorites.

Aperture’s preset adjustments can be very useful for your editing workflow. The effects presets allow you to see what impact they will have on a selected photo before the settings are applied; and after presets are applied you can fine tune them in the adjustments panel.


Aperture presets

You can also create custom presets and import presets created by other Aperture users. Aperture also includes various brush tools, especially useful for portraits in the area of skin smoothing, dodging, burning, cloning and repair.

Aperture retouch

Photo Management and Workflow

When you’re editing hundreds of photos you need an application that provides lots of choices and preferences for developing a workflow that fits your needs. Aperture allows you to hide the side panels (the inspector) as well as choose which side (View > Browser > Swap Position) of the viewer you want it on.


If you’re working on a large screen Mac you can open the floating Inspector HUD which is also useful for when you take photos full screen. And if you have a second monitor you can select to mirror the user interface, open one or more images on the second monitor, or span images between monitors.

Aperture inspector hud

Aperture provides numerous ways to view one or more images at the same time, and several options for adding ratings, keywords, file names, and other metadata. As with iPhoto, Aperture includes smart albums but with tons more options for setting up rules. There are also several options in the browser for filtering photos by date, rating, keywords, orientation, and pixel size.

Aperture filtering


Version 3.5 of Aperture not only allows users to share images to email, Flickr, and Facebook, but now to SmugMug and the new iCloud sharing system (a part of Photo Stream What Is iCloud Drive and How Does It Work? Confused about what makes iCloud Drive different to Apple's other cloud services? Let us show you what it can do, and how you can make the most of it. Read More ), whereby images can be synced with other Mac and iOS devices.

Aperture iCloud

You can batch process images for changing file names, keywords, dates, and other metadata, and you can create metadata sets for the type of information you frequently apply to photos.

Post-Production Features

The goal of Aperture has always been to provide all the tools needed to complete your photo work within one application. So, like with iPhoto, Aperture enables you to create slideshows and the layout of photo books, with additional options for choosing fonts, styles and colors. You can’t create cards and calendars in Aperture, but you can take images to iPhoto from within Aperture to complete those tasks.

Aperture slide shows

The book layouts are fairly easy to create with over twelve templates and book sizes for various occasions. You can, of course, also order individual prints directly from within the application as well.

Aperture books

No Trial Version

Unfortunately, there’s no longer a trial version of Aperture available for download. Aperture 3.5 now must be purchased from the Mac App Store directly and now requires a Mac with an Intel processor. If you’d like to get your hands on it before purchase, stop by a local Apple Store where they typically have the application installed on the display models. This Aperture In Depth page explains in detail all of Aperture’s most important features.

I’ve been a user of Aperture since it was first released, and though it’s due for an upgrade, it is still a powerful application that allows users to accomplish nearly all their photo editing and production work.

Download: Aperture ($79.99)

Let us know what you think of Aperture, or what questions you have about the program.

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