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How to work with an external editor in iPhoto Apps
Since version 5, iPhoto has had a pretty decent set of image editing controls. Nothing that rivals Photoshop, of course, but for 90% of the corrections I do on every day snapshots (a little sharpening, white balancing, or straightening) it works just fine. However, iPhoto 5 (or 6 for that matter) is not a Photoshop replacement. And when I occasionally take a really good picture, I like to tweak it in Photoshop. And thus my conundrum.

When I see a photo I want to edit, I like being able to double click on it and have iPhoto handle the editing. iPhoto's default is to "in-house" edit; double clicking does what you want it to do 90% of the time. However that 10%, when you want to move it to Photoshop, you are left with a few inelegant options. Conversely, if you set the default to open in Adobe's app, then most of the time you double click on a picture you are forced to retreat out of Photoshop and use the lower "Edit" icon in iPhoto.

While right-clicking on a photo in iPhoto the other day, I noticed a grayed-out option for opening the photo in an External Editor. I assumed that the option was grayed-out because iPhoto just didn't know what external editor I had or wanted to open the photo with. I scoured the menus and preferences, but found no way to set the external editor without just changing the default behavior of a double click, and thus annoying myself 90% of the time.

The answer is to change the default to Photoshop, and then just change it back. You then have the default of iPhoto editing pictures with a double click, which you want most of the time, and then for those rare good shots, Photoshop is a mere right click away. Once you set the external editor, iPhoto remembers it, and even though you switch the default back, iPhoto remembers that you like Photoshop and allows it via contextual menu. Though I tested this in iPhoto 6, I imagine this also works for iPhoto 5.

[robg adds: I think this has been around since the external editor option was added, but the behavior is definitely not obvious. I searched help, and it doesn't talk about using the contextual menu, nor the process of enabling an external editor without using an external editor. Hence, here's the tip. Probably too obvious for many, but hopefully it helps a few of you...]
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How to work with an external editor in iPhoto | 17 comments | Create New Account
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How to work with an external editor in iPhoto
Authored by: pcurtner on Feb 10, '06 06:50:15AM

You can also simply option-click on the Edit button in iPhoto 5/6 and the photo will open into the 'secondary' edit: so, if you have your prefs set to use Photoshop, option-click and the pic will remain in iPhoto.



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How to work with an external editor in iPhoto
Authored by: notverypc on Feb 10, '06 07:12:56AM

Also works with iPhoto 4.



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How to work with an external editor in iPhoto
Authored by: xkalibur on Feb 10, '06 07:50:49AM

This is exactly one thing I noticed the other day (the grayed out menu option), and it aggravated me to no end, I suppose because I'm new to iPhoto. So thank you so much for this hint! This is the sort of thing I would consider a bug. If it's knowing the secondary editor iPhoto wants, it should ask me then when I first try the right-click option, not just gray it out.



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How to work with an external editor in iPhoto
Authored by: derPlau on Feb 10, '06 08:47:16AM

You can also drag the photo you want to edit to Photoshop's Dock icon. One very large benefit of doing this over choosing "Edit in External Editor" from a menu is that it sends the original file, not a copy of the file. This is relevant for people who shoot RAW format files: choosing the menu item will send a jpg copy of the file, not the original RAW file, to Photoshop. Since Photoshop has RAW editing capabilities (particularly noise reduction and white-balance sampling) that iPhoto doesn't, this is the best way I've found to use iPhoto as my "shoebox of photos" while still getting the most out of my RAW files. Photoshop will automatically save its .xml sidecar file (the file Photoshop uses to store the changes you've made to RAW images) in the same folder as the original file.

Once you've edited the picture to your satisfaction, you then save a .jpg version of the file. In particular, you want to save a version "over the top of" (i.e., replacing, using the same name as) iPhoto's modified version (NOT the original). This is the downside of this approach: you have to "manually" find the appropriate folder in which to save the edited version of the file. In iPhoto '06, originals are saved in ~/Pictures/iPhoto Library/Originals/<yr>/<roll #>/, while modified versions are saved in ~/Pictures/iPhoto Library/Modified/<yr>/<roll #>/; so when you save you have to go up three directories from the folder holding the original, remember your roll number, then go down three directories to that same roll number in the Modified folder and save your jpg. This is a bigger pain in iPhoto '06 than it was in '05, because in '05 the originals were stored in a subdirectory of the same folder that stored the modified versions (I have vague plans to write an Automator action to do this automatically). This change in directory structure also meant that none of my old .xml files got moved into the new directories; though fortunately it didn't delete the .xml files altogether, so if I want to re-edit any of my older RAW files I just have to Spotlight search for the filename of my image and move the .xml file to the new folder.

One thing that seems to have been fixed in '06 is that, in '05, editing this way (by dragging the image to the Photoshop icon in the dock) confused Thumbnail view: the Thumbnails would flicker back and forth between the photoshop-edited version and the "original jpg" version of the file (which is to say the modified version of the file saved by iTunes). If you're still using '05, you can get around this by choosing "Edit in External Editor" from the contextual menu after you've imported your image into Photoshop the other way, then just closing the second image as soon as it opens up in Photoshop. This seems to set iPhoto up so it's "expecting" a changed version of the file to be changed, so it deals gracefully when one is.

Quite a lot of rigmarole, but I like iPhoto's organizational function plus the control RAW gives me over my images enough to make it worthwhile; and I can't afford Photoshop or iView Media Pro.



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Is thumbnail of photo upated as well?
Authored by: moritzh on Feb 10, '06 12:30:13PM
Very nice description, thank you. A short question:
Once you've edited the picture to your satisfaction, you then save a .jpg version of the file. In particular, you want to save a version "over the top of" (i.e., replacing, using the same name as) iPhoto's modified version (NOT the original).
Will iPhoto realize that you are replacing the photo and update the thumbnail? Or does it get confused by this procedure? I assume not, since you seem to get along with this well. Sorry, I don't have iPhoto '06 yet, so I can't test myself.
I can't afford Photoshop or iView Media Pro
Neither can I. But I am wondering: If you can't afford it, how come you use it as an exteral editor? ;-)

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Is thumbnail of photo upated as well?
Authored by: derPlau on Feb 10, '06 01:13:06PM

The answer seems to be yes, in '06 -- though I just got '06 so I haven't tested extensively. In '05, the "thumbnail flickering" I described above is likely the symptom of the thumbnail not updating. As I described, the workaround in '05 (and presumably in '06, if there's a problem) is to do a "dummy" external edit by choosing "edit in external editor" from the menu, then just closing the file immediately when it opens in Photoshop.



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Is thumbnail of photo upated as well?
Authored by: derPlau on Feb 10, '06 01:17:22PM
Neither can I. But I am wondering: If you can't afford it, how come you use it as an exteral editor? ;-)

D'oh! Typo. I meant "I can't afford Aperture or iView Media Pro".



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How to work with an external editor in iPhoto
Authored by: osxpounder on Feb 10, '06 03:37:35PM

That's interesting [your discovery that RAW files get passed to Photoshop as JPGs]. I don't use RAW, but I tried a PSD file and find that it gets passed as a PSD no matter how I choose to edit it [click, context menu, whatever].

But it made me realize that I wish iPhoto would show the file extensions, so I could see at a glance that this thumbnail is a PSD, but that thumb's a JPG. I checked menus and prefs, but find no way to do it. That amazes me. Is it true that iPhoto won't show you file extensions, or am I missing how to enable this?

---
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osxpounder



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How to work with an external editor in iPhoto
Authored by: hamarkus on Feb 10, '06 04:28:15PM

In the source pane you can pull up an info window, there you can see the file type. Or do a command I.



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How to work with an external editor in iPhoto
Authored by: derPlau on Feb 10, '06 05:09:40PM

The fact that PSD files are always sent to Photoshop as PSD files is partly due to the different way iPhoto treats RAW from the way it treats other image formats. When you edit a photo in iPhoto, it always keeps the original unchanged in the Originals folder and changes a copy of that original, which it places in the Modified folder. With every format except RAW, the copy it makes is of the same format as the original -- so there will be two photos called, say, IMG_001.psd; one in the Originals folder and one in the Modified folder. With RAW, however, the copy that gets saved is a different format from the original -- specifically, a jpg. This is to conform to the "RAW philosophy", which treats RAW as a digital negative that should never be edited directly.

So Osxpounder's observation made sense to me: if dragging the image to the Dock icon sends the original, while using the "Edit in external editor" menu item sends the modified copy, then RAW files would be sent as a different format via the two methods, while other files would be sent as the same format.

Interestingly, though, it turns out iTunes seems to be more intelligent than I expected: with RAW files, dragging to the dock icon sends the original; while with other files it sends the modified copy. I tested this (with a psd, in fact) by importing a file to iPhoto, editing it in an obvious way (I sepia'd it), then dragging the file -- lo & behold, the sepia version was what got opened in Photoshop! Pretty fascinating behavior.



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How to work with an external editor in iPhoto
Authored by: derPlau on Feb 22, '06 01:20:26PM

Update on my comments on RAW editing above. I just discovered (in iPhoto '06; i don't think it existed in '05) an option in the Advanced preference pane to "Use RAW files with external editor". This automatically sends the RAW files to (e.g.) Photoshop, when possible, by choosing "Edit in External Editor" from the popup menu. All the rigmarole I describe above then becomes unnecessary. Hooray!



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How to work with an external editor in iPhoto
Authored by: haumann on Feb 10, '06 10:11:11AM

It's actually a lot simpler than all that. From at least as far back as iPhoto 2, one could identify an external editor in the iPhoto preferences -- choose your target editor, just don't pick that radio button selection (if the external editor is not available from a right-click on any image, it's because none was specified in the preferences).

Once an external editor has been specified, it will be available from an image's contextual menu (control-clck), independently of the preferences' radio button selection.



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How to work with an external editor in iPhoto
Authored by: htapio on Feb 10, '06 10:47:23AM

I found also that shift-dbl-click on the image thumbnail will also open directly to the external editor.



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Please explain how to change the default
Authored by: Norm Nager on Feb 10, '06 12:01:03PM

"The answer is to change the default to Photoshop, and then just change it back.")

Thanks very much for the valuable hint. But I can't figure out how to change the default. Help, please.

Respectfully, Norm



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Please explain how to change the default
Authored by: dudemac on Feb 10, '06 12:51:19PM

Norm,

Open iPhoto, click the "iPhoto" menu
-Select "Preferences"
-Click "General" if it is not already selected
-Then Click on the drop down box next to "Edit Photo" and select external editor. This should open a file browser window for you to select "Photoshop or whatever external editor you like" Click ok
-Now you can close the preference pane and this will save the options.
-If you like to change it back like this hint suggested then just open the preferences again and select another option.
This option makes the default action for double clicking. You will still have the other options in the contextual menu.

hope this helps

Matt



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Please explain how to change the default
Authored by: Norm Nager on Feb 10, '06 06:17:22PM

Thanks for your thoughtfulness in explaining! Norm



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How to work with an external editor in iPhoto
Authored by: Jinorasa on Feb 10, '06 03:08:20PM

There's something even wonderful in iLife06. You can set Photoshop as default editor. For iPhoto editing, simply set to full screen editing and you can edit your photo with iPhoto tools in full screen.



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