At the WWDC last June, Apple announced that development on both iPhoto and Aperture for Mac end.

After being promoted on the Apple website for most of last summer, all traces of Photos for Mac were removed online soon after the company launched iOS 8 in September. This led many to wonder whether we would ever see Photos for Mac come to fruition. Apple finally released the first beta version of Photos for Mac in February. The first public version arrived on April 8 with the OS X 10.10.3 update.

How we got here

Before diving headfirst into Photos for Mac, it’s important to review where Apple has been in terms of photo organization in recent years. In 2011, Apple introduced iCloud, which included a new service called Photo Stream. Prior to this, iTunes syncing was the only way to share batches of photos between Macs and PCs and iOS devices.

With Photo Stream, Apple stored 1,000 of your most recent photos on their servers for a period of 30 days. When a photo was taken on a device with Photo Stream enabled, it was automatically uploaded to the iCloud servers. From there, the photo was automatically pushed to the rest of the user’s registered devices. After 30 days, the photos were deleted, unless they were saved to a user’s computer.

With iCloud Photos, photos are still stored on Apple’s servers, however, there is no longer a count limit. Additionally, Cupertino no longer deletes photos after a period of time.

These photos are accessible on iOS, OS X, and from This configuration helps limit the amount of local storage each device needs to use, since only lower-resolution versions are stored on the device. The user has the option to keep some or all of the photos stored locally at a higher resolution.Image from

At launch, Apple is giving users 5GB of free iCloud storage. You’ll pay $0.99 a month for an additional 20GB, $3.99 a month for an additional 200GB, $9.99 a month for an additional 500GB, and $19.99 a month for 1TB of additional storage. You don’t have to use iCloud Photos, and can continue to store your images on your Mac as you always have.

And now to Photos

As a version 1.0 release, Photos for Mac looks a lot like the Photos app on iOS. A top menu features four tabs: Photos, Shared, Albums, and Projects.

Under Photos, you’ll see all of your iCloud images, organized by date and/or place. Photos can be viewed individually, or as a group. You can also view a Photo Slideshow, according to date, which can be customized with themes and music.

One, or a group of photos, can be added to an Album, Smart Album, Book, Calendar, Card, Slideshow, or Prints. You’ll also find an icon to share your photos through iCloud, email, social networks, or other options.

Under Shared, you’ll see a running list of photos that you, or someone you know, has shared through iCloud. The layout here is beautiful, though basic. 

Albums offers a hodgepodge of photo groupings, many which have been carried over from iPhoto for Mac. These include All Photos, Faces, Panoramas, and Videos. You’ll also see your legacy Events from iPhoto for Mac.

Projects is where you can create, edit, and find an Album, Smart Album, Book, Calendar, Card, Slideshow, or Prints. Notice that the same projects are available under the Photos tab.Image from

The tools presented here look very nice. For example, creating a Calendar is as easy as selecting a layout, and adding pictures. When finished, the project can easily be shared or sent to Apple for printing.

So how is the editing functionality in Photos for Mac? So far, so good, based on my early take.

To edit a photo, you’ll need to double click on it and hit the “Edit button.” From there, the screen goes dark, and the available editing tools are shown to the right of the photo. These tools are nearly identical to the ones found in the iOS 8 Photos app. They include: Enhance, Rotate, Crop, Filters, Adjust, Retouch, and Red-eye.


It’s clear that Photos for Mac is for the casual-to-enthusiastic iOS and digital camera shooter. The tools presented are intuitive, and the layout is simple to navigate — as we would expect from an Apple product.

What’s less certain is whether current Aperture users will be comfortable making the jump to Photos for Mac, or whether they will need to look elsewhere. My early take is that professional photographers will need to look elsewhere. Future releases, however, could change my opinion on this.

Learn about the extensions for Photos and how to use them here: and how Photos will work on new Sierra here: