Cleaning up iPhoto

By Tim Butler | Posted at 8:41 PM

Back in May of 2004, when I decided it was time to bail out of my messed up Fedora Core desktop and ended up landing in Mac OS X 10.3, I started playing around with iPhoto. After a few months, I embarked on copying thousands of photos from the past few years and putting them into the program. Unfortunately, I had been rather unorganized in this respect previously, and I ended up with a bunch of duplicates and not enough time to manually pick them all out.

Now, you're thinking, “seriously, Tim, what's so hard about finding a few duplicates and removing them?” Not much, if you're talking one trip's worth — although even that took a long time — but it is a major project when you have just short of 12,700 photos in your iPhoto library.

Enter Duplicate Annihilator. While I hated to pay $7.95 for a program that hopefully I'll only need to use once (although I may need to do so again — somehow I managed to bypass iPhoto's duplicate protection and end up with duplicates even on photos taken after I started using iPhoto), I bit the bullet. The program can do a number of checks to find duplicates, however I stuck with the default MD5 checksum method, which seemed pretty safe. After letting it go through my album for a little over two hours, it returned 1580 photos that were duplicates, marking each one as such in the photo's comment area.

I created a new iPhoto Smart Album that displayed only photos with that comment and then went through with a Finder window open to “spot check” to make sure Duplicate Annihilator had indeed only marked photos I could manually find a duplicate of. After I was mostly satifisifed, I used iPhoto to burn the duplicates to CD and then deleted them off of my hard disk. That brings my total library down to 11,112 photos checking in at 8 GB of space (13 movies are also in iPhoto, though I have more from my digicam that I took before iPhoto supported movies and have not yet added into my library).

It is good to try to clean things up, especially now that I've been taking photos at 3-5 megapixels (and hence each picture weighs in at between 850 KB and 2 MB). Until recently, I had been trying to economize on space by taking 1-2 megapixel images when I was just doing routine stuff. However, I have some really special photos I wish were at the highest quality possible, and, of course, there is nothing I can do about that. :( Given that I have close to have half terabyte of storage at my disposal, that seems silly. The practical bottleneck was my old camera's (the DSC-S75) support only for the old non-“Pro” Memory Sticks that only went up to 128 MB in size. Short of constantly swapping sticks, I had to weigh between quality and quantity of photos (even the four 128 MB sticks I own go quickly at that camera's full 3.1 MP quality). When a new Sony digicam went on sale recently, I upgraded (to the DSC-H1) and that allows me to use the newer Memory Stick Pro format. I have a 2GB Memory Stick Pro on order — via Amazon.com for only $129 — and that should clear up this long time annoyance. But, I digress. The long and the short of it is that I want to try to keep a closer eye on my photo organization; I take too many pictures to be messy about it.

Now that I'm organized and ready to go, I think I'll try to post some new shots online. I managed to get some really great bald eagle photos today in Winfield, MO at the Mississippi Lock and Dam No. 25. Maybe I'll post them tonight or tomorrow.


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