7 Steps to Switching from Aperture to Lightroom

7 Steps to Switching from Aperture to Lightroom

Video linked here to explain the process.

Video linked here to explain the process.

1. Understand Catalogs

Think Card Catalog at the library. It doesn’t have books in it. It just keeps track of where they are and what the books have in them. It also knows any changes you make.

It’s most like your Aperture Library except it can’t hold the pictures.

2. Understand Folders

Folders in Lightroom are just your computer’s folders that Lightroom knows about, because at some point you imported them into Lightroom. You could have:

imported them in place “Add”

copied them into the folder “Copy”

moved them into the folder “Move”.

For Copy or Move, since they are going in a new folder, Lightroom takes the chance to add some folder based organization by creating day based folders for you. Moving pictures around once they have been imported is easy, just drag and drop between folders.

3. Understand Collections

Since Folders actually contains the photos themselves, Collections is where you’ll have to have all your useful organization customization. You’ll do your heavy lifting here if you want a lot of customization of your files.

Think of Aperture’s Albums and Smart Albums.

4. Know where your pictures are

Lightroom shines here because in the Library module the “Folders” portions is 100% describing actual folders on your computer. Try importing and studying the options.

Know where your Aperture pictures are. Are they inside the Aperture application or referenced?

5. Utilize this website and my video

Go to this website  and follow the instructions.

I made this video to get you through it.

6. Know what you get

Lightroom features:

  • Works in the same color space as PS
  • slideshow highly customizable
  • slideshow has repeat button!
  • lens presets
  • digital print proofing
  • clunky video editing (better then none)
  • better community support for plugins
  • iPad integration with Photosmith plugin
  • More complete X-Rite ColorChecker Passport integration
  • easier to get presets
  • brushes customizable
  • more case specific brushes (iris’s, teeth, etc…)

Don’t expect to have an easier time going into PS. It’s just as easy as it was with Aperture. Don’t expect having an easier time with the round trip to Premiere Pro. It’s just as 100% useless as Aperture is for this.

7. Know what you’ll be missing

Only on Aperture

  • Apple integration (Photostream, iMovie, iPhoto etc…)
  • videos in slideshows
  • skin tone WB picker
  • no retina for slideshow module
  • seeing temperature during WB adjusting


Other Posts on this subject

Previous posts discussed these differences and how it effects someone focusing on pictures and also a separate post discussing how they effect someone focusing on video.  Most recently I wrote about why I’ve finally chosen Lightroom.


  1. Hi there, You have done a great job. I’ll definitely digg it and individually suggest to my friends. I’m sure they will be
    benefited from this website.


  2. […] 7 Steps to Switching from Aperture to Lightroom (technologyformedia.com) […]


  3. […] 7 Steps to Switching from Aperture to Lightroom (technologyformedia.com) […]


  4. […] Lightroom features: Works in the same color space as PS; slideshow highly customizable; slideshow has repeat button! lens presets; digital print proofing; clunky video editing (better then none); better community support for …  […]


  5. […] 7 Steps to Switching from Aperture to Lightroom (technologyformedia.com) […]


  6. […] If you’d like to read more about what I think is in store for Aperture 4 based on these differences [check this out]. To see how these difference affect a photographer, read here, to see how they affect a videographer, read here, to see why I chose Lightroom read this. How to switch from Aperture to Lightroom here. […]


  7. Mark – any thoughts/suggestions on getting images to/from an iPad? I’m currently looking at exporting the best images to iPhoto and syncing via Photo Stream


    1. Yeah, that’s a great question. It’s one I had to figure out after I switched. I think my solution is fairly elegant. I wrote a blog post to show it to you and anyone else.


  8. Create alias to iPhoto ‘Photostream’ folder. Get LR to check it for auto import?


    1. That sounds like it will work. Are you going to try this? I’d love to know how it ends up.


  9. Hi Mark,

    After the news that Aperture will discontinue I switched to Lightroom 5. There is a lot to find about migrating the photo’s from Aperture into Lightroom but I can also choose to leave my Aperture library as-is and continue to work with Lightroom for my new photo’s. This requires no migration but keeps leaving me with two libraries with all it’s keywords, edit’s, ratings, etc.

    What I miss is, and I assume that’s because it almost not possible, how to migrate all the edits I have done on my photo’s in Aperture.

    Do you have any suggestions on this point?

    With kind regards, Dennis


    1. Dennis
      I’ve never tried it but I image it would be possible by baking in the changes. If you export the Aperture final versions as full resolution jpegs with all metadata intact and then import them all into Lightroom. You’d have a LR library with all your edits. You could import them right along with the originals and then stack the originals under the edits.
      It would be very time consuming and take a lot of hard drive space.


  10. Robert Haar · · Reply

    Can I transfer all my photo organization (folders, albums, sldieshows) from iPhoto to Lightroom? From what I understand, Lightroom use actaul file system folders to organize the photos. Aperture adn iPhoto libraries use more of a database with pointers to the actual files.


    1. The organization built inside iPhoto or aperture would be lost because you’re only exporting the photos out. There are a couple of clumsy work arounds.
      You could export an iPhoto folder at a time labeling it as such during export. Or you could add metadata while still in iPhoto before exporting that wound carry over into LR you could them sort by and create a similar structure inside LRS


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: