End of Life for Aperture

As many of you may know, Apple announced yesterday the end of life for Aperture. Although they will update it for compatibility with its upcoming Yosemite operating system, there will be no further feature development for Aperture.

End Of Life For Aperture Was Inevitable

A few weeks ago, I received a message from someone who thought that Aperture was a trap because it stored photos in a database.  Did you hear that? A database! Oh, the horror! What would happen if Apple ever stopped making Aperture?

I told him that would inevitably happen, though at the time I thought it would be farther down the road. Aperture is not the first software program to end development. Think about spreadsheet programs.  I’ve used VisiCalc, Multiplan, Lotus 1-2-3 and now Excel. The world kept spinning and essential data continued to live in other program.

The same thing will happen with your photographs if you use Aperture. Another program, most likely Adobe Lightroom, will do just fine in caring for your photographic data.

That isn’t to say there won’t be some bumps in the road. Migration is a pain in the neck. Some of your data won’t survive. For example, the edits you made to your images in Aperture will not transfer to Lightroom. However, you can transfer the original files and the associated metadata from Aperture to Lightroom.

I’m working on a migration guide to help you avoid most of the bumps in the road and allow you to make the transition from Aperture to Lightroom as smooth as possible.

End Of Life For Aperture Vs Lightroom, Too

Apple’s announcement also signals the end of life for the Aperture vs Lightroom blog. The intent behind this sight was to serve those who wanted information about buying these programs. Which one should you get? Should you switch from one to the other?

Well, that question is now moot. Aperture is no longer  viable option to purchase. I own both products and I can tell you that I will migrate everything I have in Aperture over to Lightroom.  Well, almost everything.  Lightroom still doesn’t support audio files as Aperture does, but that won’t affect most people.

Some are holding out hope that the new Photos application demonstrated at WWDC 2014 will be a viable replacement for Aperture. I don’t have any such hope. My guess is that Photos will be a slower, dimwitted version of Aperture for the consumer masses shooting pictures on their iOS device. While I’m sure there is some excellent engineering going on behind the scenes, I doubt it will offer the level of organization and control that professional and serious amateurs require.

I’ve read reports that Photos may work with third party plugins and include some of the advanced features of Aperture.  I’ve also read reports that it will only work with files hosted in iCloud. Such reports are, to me, nothing more than rumors.

My choice is to migrate to Lightroom now rather than wait for the next magical unicorn to appear out of Cupertino. I would not invest any money in a professional product from Apple at this time. The company has systematically shed itself of its professional products and signaled that it doesn’t want or need to be in that market.

That’s not an evil thing, but it’s rather disappointing when you’re invested in a system that the creator doesn’t want to continue improving.

That’s why I don’t really see a purpose for this blog beyond creating a migration guide. If I could not recommend either product in good faith, then I wouldn’t write something to convince you to do the same, either. Adobe isn’t my favorite company in the world, but it’s shown interest in continuing development for professional photography, video and other services. That’s where I’ll put my own images and I recommend the same to you.

Aperture vs Lightroom started as an off-shoot of my photography blog. It was the most popular keyword that brought visitors to my site, which was completely by accident. Since my photography site wasn’t really about Aperture or Lightroom, I decided to see if I could create something else to answer some questions about how Aperture and Lightroom compared to each other.

It turns out that this site was a much larger draw, gathering over a thousand unique visitors a day. I should have done a better job of monetizing it, but I wasn’t greedy enough.

Migrating From Apeture to Lightroom

One of the best parts of this site was the feedback and questions from the community. I’ve really enjoyed reading about your experiences and answering questions to help when I could. Fortunately, there are plenty of resources for information and training on how to use Lightroom. The only thing I haven’t seen is a truly definitive guide to migrating from Aperture to Lightroom, as most I’ve read online are far too sparse.

Should you expect help from Apple or Adobe? I sincerely doubt it.  Adobe’s help was to say that it’s going to “double-down” on Lightroom, whatever the hell that means.

Put simply we’re doubling down on our investments in Lightroom and the new Creative Cloud Photography plan and you can expect to see a rich roadmap of rapid innovation for desktop, web and device workflows in the coming weeks, months and years. We also continue to invest actively on the iOS and OSX platforms, and are committed to helping interested iPhoto and Aperture customers migrate to our rich solution across desktop, device and web workflows.

Here’s what I think that means to Adobe.  Cha-Ching!  New customers with mo’ money!

The good news is that you don’t have to migrate today.  Aperture will continue to operate, even on the next version of Mac OS X.  Take your time to plan before you jump into something new. Make solid backups of your Aperture libraries and slowly migrate. Test and observe before you commit.

That’s the approach I’m going to use in the migration guide that I’ll share. There’s no sense in jumping into something and wishing later you did things differently.

With that in mind, let me know if you have any questions in the comments or suggestions to include in the migration guide.


  1. Ric says

    Do you have any opinions or experience with other alternatives, such as Capture One? Do such companies have better relations with their customers than Adobe (who’s reputation is not the best)? I know that Lightroom has the lion’s share of the advanced user market, but other programs have their advocates as well. I own both Aperture and Lightroom, but I have no experience with any other DAM. Perhaps you have, or you could point us toward colleagues who have made informed comparisons.

    Thanks for all the great posts on this marvelous website. You have been a must-read for me. I look forward to your migration advice.

    • says

      Hi Ric,

      I don’t have any experience with Capture One, so I can’t really offer advice on its capabilities. It’s one of the alternatives, as is Photo Mechanic. These programs don’t all work exactly the same what, so what works for one person may not be the best for another.

      I’ve started working on my migration guide and I’m trying to cover all the bases I can conceive. For example, Aperture doesn’t allow you to export any custom fields. One of the things I’ll recommend is using Aperture to relocate the data in those custom fields to existing, but unused, IPTC fields, which you can then export if you want. Some plugins user custom fields, like export tools for 500px or Flickr, and I also use them for my Copyright registration data.

      You can either use AppleScript to move them, but I’m finding it may be faster to use some filtered queries and Aperture’s Lift and Stamp tools to save that information. By the time I tested my code, I’d be done going the latter route.

      There’s more, and I’ll try to have it posted in the next couple of days.

  2. says

    Hi William,

    Nicely written post, as always. I’m curious to see what you come up with wrt keyword groups from Aperture. Although I’m not ready to start converting today. I’ve never used Lightroom, though I’m doing my homework as I suspect most Aperture users are.

    Nested keywords are a big part of my Aperture workflow. From what I’ve read thus far, Lightroom 5 has the same concept. Does Lightroom offer the capability to export/import keyword lists? If so, and depending on the output format, that may prove a fulcrum for data manipulation and translation. Ideally, seed a new LR Catalog with an Aperture-sourced keyword list before adding photos. And keywords “just work”.


  3. jozb says

    Well, that is the nail in the coffin for me. I am a journalist and work in print/photo/video and went “apple” in 2009 for two programs only. Final Cut Pro, and Aperture. Both great apps. They screwed Final Cut Pro a few years ago with FCPX, so I switched to Premiere. Today I switched to lightroom and given that my desktop mac is about 3 years old… went ahead and reinstalled OSX, boxed it up and it will soon be on eBay. It’s back to windows for my next computer purchase probably around Black Friday, when I’ll upgrade my laptop as well. So long apple, you were fun for awhile but no use spending extra money if you don’t have the key programs I need. Should have known this was the way apple was heading away from professional market when we first had to replace the xserves at work b/c they discontinued them.

    • says

      I can certainly understand your sentiment. In fact, you’re not the first person who told me they were giving up on Apple completely. I’m not in that camp, though. I still enjoy my Apple equipment and Mac OS X, as well as the Apple ecosystem of music, movies, apps and books.

      Moving to Lightroom and Premier definitely gives you the flexibility to change platforms as you want. Also, it’s clear that Adobe wants to be in the professional space where Apple does not. Hope you have a smooth migration.

  4. says

    In a twist of irony, on the very day Apple announced it was ceasing development of Aperture, my new MacPro (a $6,000 machine) arrived. You see, I have had a 27″ iMac (2013) with maximum specifications for less than a year. Following the OS update to Mavericks and subsequent Aperture update to 3.5, Aperture became unusable. There were kernel panics, frequent crashes, and rebuilding libraries. Finally, I began a reluctant transition to Lightroom.

    My IT director, after extensive research, discovered that the issues with Aperture were unique to machines with NVIDIA cards. That’s why my new iMac and new MacBook Pro were crashing with Aperture. Testing on older iMacs (with AMD video cards) and a new MacPro, also with AMD cards, didn’t crash.

    I ordered the MacPro as a replacement and moved the iMac to another staff person. And as it arrived – bearing in mind it was driven by me wanting the option (if desired) to use Aperture – Apple announced the end of life for Aperture. I assumed, after conversation with someone at Apple that Aperture was going to survive. I was mistaken.

    Well, I have a very powerful Mac Pro now, and Aperture works extremely well on it as expected. But I don’t believe I will move mack from Lightroom. I’ve grown tired of Apple’s secrecy. And I’m getting to the point where I am less and less enthusiastic about the company. I can see myself after all these years looking at another platform in the future.

    BTW, I see Apple is still selling Aperture in the App Store. What arrogance!

    • says


      Reading between the lines of Apple’s planning is tough for me. Just a few posts ago, I speculated how some of the items mentioned in WWDC were good news for photographers and how they could be applied in Aperture. After all, an Apple Senior VP mentioned a new release of Aperture at the launch of the Mac Pro. Aperture featured heavily in promotional materials for new Macs over the last year or two. Seemed reasonable to expect a new version of Aperture.

      Well, now we know that was all wrong. Fortunately, Apple will correct the issues that you encountered so Aperture works with Yosemite, but that’s about all we can expect. I’ve already started migrating to Lightroom and that’s my advice to everyone else.

  5. Marc Pecquet says

    Hi William;

    Obviously, I am as nervous as every other Aperture lover… However, after one day of frantically looking at various sites and in particular Apple’s forums, I’ve decided to chill out… and wait and see. Indeed, I’ve seen some positive things and I understand that Apple has never said it recommended (or whatever the term referred to was) LR… What really calmed me down was reading https://www.apertureexpert.com/tips/2014/6/27/aperture-dead-long-live-photos#.U7GvYBYafpE
    I’ve always trusted my “good star” and can’t believe Apple would shoot itself in the foot a second time the way they did with FinalCut.
    My impression at this stage is that your blog will be in demand in the future, but under a different name: Photo VS Lightroom !

    • says

      Hi Marc,

      I’m afraid that I’m out. I won’t be comparing Photos to Lightroom, but I will be interested to see how Photos works. No doubt, you can migrate your Aperture Libraries into Photos. Apple isn’t that stupid. I just don’t expect a truly professional app from Photos.

      This line came from the AppleInsider.com story about the end of Aperture, though. “Apple also said it is working with Adobe to help users transition to its Lightroom app for Mac.” That’s pretty telling to me that I shouldn’t wait around for Photos.


      • says

        I have to agree with you William, if Apple is working with Adobe to help users transition to its Lightroom, then Lightroom will most likely be the way for me to go. The timing is perfect … my first full frame camera! However, I have a zillion pictures in Aperture. So the big question is, should I start migrating over now or wait for an Adobe/Apple patch for a smoother migration of photos? I feel it’s a good time to buy Lightroom and learn it while the migrating patch is being worked on. My only concern is the subscription part … buying versus subscription … will Adobe force subscription down the road? I welcome your comments!

  6. william boisvert says

    i went on the chat room with adobe and the guy told me i needed photoshop cc to go with lightroom…is this true? I’m not wanting to buy two programs and i’m certainly not buying a monthly subscription for cc.

  7. Huw says

    I’m glad I happened across this article! Many thanks, William.
    I did not know that Aperture was going to go (eventually). I use Apple for everything and I can easily put an image into an email or a report, for example.
    Will this be very difficult if I move across to Lightroom?
    Some of my images are in JPG and some in RAW. I doubt I shall need the RAW originals any longer and so exporting them to Lightroom in JPG would not be big deal for me (anyway, I shall have a back-up – just in case). Am I missing something?

    • says

      It’s a financial decision. Developing professional applications takes a lot of resources, but has a small customer base. They can make more money from those developers working on other products with more appeal to a mass audience.

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