Lightroom Videos

Video – Moving from iPhoto to Lightroom 3

Last week Scott Kelby mentioned I’d be doing a video on going from iPhoto to Lightroom. Over the last few week’s we’ve done a number of our 1-day Lightroom seminars and this question seemed to pop up a lot so we figured it would be easier to tackle in a video. As I mentioned in the video, it’s a little clunky but it can be done. The main thing you have to decide is whether you want two copies of your photos (Originals and Modified as you’ll see in the video).

Click here to download the video to your computer. [Right-click and choose the “Save As” option]

A couple of extras:
• There’s a program called Picture Sync that some have recommended to help get your keywords and metadata saved as well. It’s unsupported and no longer updated.
• I’ve also seen some people suggest moving from iPhoto to Aperture. Then from Aperture you can export your photos (with all of their metadata, keywords, etc…) and import into Lightroom. Again, it’s clunky and requires you own a copy of yet another piece of expensive software. But hey, I run into people all the time that have both so I thought I’d at least mention it.




  1. don 8 June, 2012 at 23:37 Reply

    The way I deal with this is to go into iphoto – show package contents – and make an alias of “originals” & “modified” and drag the alias out of the package and into my picture folder. I can then add (import) my photo’s without making copies of everything. This is how I get around having so much wasted space.


  2. lauren 27 September, 2011 at 22:47 Reply

    Thanks for the video! After importing the files to lightroom, do you keep the “original’ and ‘modified’ folders in the iPhoto catalog or does lightroom make a second copy of them in their catalog? Thanks!

  3. Erik 19 September, 2011 at 17:55 Reply

    I accidentally moved (not copied) my originals and modified folders from iphoto to my pictures folder because you didn’t mention that until it was too late. Oh darn. Now I guess I broke iphoto? All of my photos in lightroom have been replaced by “!”‘s and lightroom says all of my photos are now missing. I’m glad I checked out your video. Is there anyway you can help me reverse this? Please.

  4. Polly Steinmetz 4 August, 2011 at 15:26 Reply

    Thank you for your clear tutorials Matt. I imported everything from i-photo but I now have question marks in my thumbbb nails next to an occasional image. Any tips to correct this problem?

  5. Sebastian 11 June, 2011 at 09:44 Reply

    Hello there, thanks for the video!! A quick question (ok might not be too quick) I’ve always used iPhoto and have never used Aperature or Lightroom. I just got a copy of Lightroom 3 and I’m a little daunted and confused about even trying to use this program. It seems like another language to me. Something new to learn now and although I don’t have a lot of altered or modified photos in my iPhoto library I do have 80K photos in it. And since I’ve just done a professional scanning gig of my whole families photos I am planning on importing another 10K photos into my iPhoto. Is this too many photos to deal with in Lightroom? This is kind of why the whole Lightroom thing came up. Friends have used Aperature and Lightroom and have mentioned that Lightroom is much faster. I don’t really know though. I can stick to working with iPhoto but I find it very limiting. I want to be able to alter my photos much more than I’m able to in iPhoto so is Lightroom the software program to use to do that and manage a library of photos?

    Is 80-90 or 100K photos too many? Any help is appreciated. Thank you in advance.


  6. CCR 3 June, 2011 at 04:07 Reply

    I’m assuming that after I import the photos I can then delete them from the IPhoto folder, under Masters, correct? Everything is saved in the folder that I saved a copy of the images too, right?

  7. Andreas 28 May, 2011 at 21:34 Reply

    Hi, Just watched your film.. thanks for the tips.. but i have a question.. Wouldn’t just selecting all of the photos in each event and then copying them to your desktop and then to LR be just as fast, and a better way of keeping your files as you have already organised them in iPhoto??
    Also.. is there any way fo bringing the metadata over from iphoto to LR.. i dont have them as RAW file though..
    Thanks again

  8. Jeri 15 April, 2011 at 23:30 Reply

    I am having trouble finding my “original” and “modified” photos once I get to the
    Import stage in Lr. I dragged them to my desktop as instructed, and I can see them there in Finder, but nothing once I get to Lr. Not sure what I am doing wrong….
    Any insight would be greatly appreciated!

  9. Adrien (from Paris, France) 21 February, 2011 at 12:49 Reply

    Hello Matt,
    Thanks a lot for all your clear turorials that have been very helpful to me since I started to work as a professionnal photographer, and moved from iphoto to LR2 then 3. (It’s a pity thought there’s no french version of them, or subtitles.)
    I have a question that tickles me for months : how can I reproduce the iphoto’s preset “antique” effect on LR3?? (the LR3 preset antique effect is quiet different) I have tried many tunings with many parameters but it just doesn’t make it. I really like this effect, and I miss it a lot on LR3. Could you help me on this?

  10. Carol Stegeman 14 February, 2011 at 18:06 Reply

    I just opened iphoto, chose the stack(file) I wanted, opened it, choose all of the photos and dragged them to a folder in my LightRoom Archive folder. Then I imported from there–That way I could keep my stacks and name them as I went along. Seems much simplier.
    Would love to know if there is a problem doing it this way. Thanks,

  11. mark 9 December, 2010 at 14:04 Reply

    Hi Matt,
    I’ve followed your video. I only am having 1 problem. When I expand the iPhoto link to “show package contents” there is no folder there titled “modified” or “Original” There is only one folder titled “Masters.” My Mac was purchased in late 2010 – did Apple change something? I just purchased LR3 and am pumped to get started but right now I can’t even get to my library of photos (over 20k chronicling the last few years)


  12. Maria Hoff 23 September, 2010 at 20:21 Reply

    Dear Matt right now I am so sorry I got a MAC I see MACs when you guys are doing tutorials but this Iphoto Lightroom CS5 Bridge stuff is killing me. I was so excited I saved up for this and now I wish I had gotten a PC . I just can’t believe Iphoto owns my photos. I hate the way it organizes them. Picasa is better. If I get Lightroom can I just import straight there and go to photoshop. I cant even get to my pics in Bridge. So sad……….

      • Maria Hoff 23 September, 2010 at 23:17 Reply

        Thanks Matt I am hoping after I will be able to export them after Lightroom and email them through IPhoto or Picasa. I guess I will be purchasing Lightroom 3. I am on the Kelby training site all the time so I hope to get this all together. I have to say you always make it sound easy. Thanks Hoping to love my MAC

  13. Markus Weimer 18 August, 2010 at 01:50 Reply

    This looses all the work done to tag & name the pictures. There are apple-scripts out there which take that info from the iPhoto library and put it into the iptc/exif headers of the images. Then, you just drag the images from iPhoto to Lightroom which imports all the metadata now as well. Much better than the mere import of the images as suggested here.

  14. Russell Masters 4 August, 2010 at 01:00 Reply

    Hi Matt

    Great post, just noticed that the latest videos arent appearing via the iTunes podcast. Have you stopped adding these or is there something wrong ?

    Great blog, keep up the good work !

  15. Julie K 3 August, 2010 at 09:01 Reply


    Can please outline the steps to move from iPhoto 09 to Aperture 3 to Lightroom 3? This will preserve lens used and other metadata. Also I am re-doing my workflow to keep Lightroom data and catalog all on an external drive (backed up of course). I just keep filling my internal drive!


    • Matt Kloskowski 3 August, 2010 at 09:24 Reply

      Unfortunately, I probably won’t get to doing a tutorial on that. But just so you know, Lightroom will still preserve lens used and most metadata coming from iPhoto. If you’re shooting raw, all of that stuff is already embedded in the raw file.


  16. Michael S 2 August, 2010 at 17:07 Reply

    I agree with those that suggest one way to save yourself a ton O’ pain is to …

    1.Export individual Iphoto albums to a new folder. (These would presumably be organized according to subject in a manner similar to what would be desired in Lightroom)
    2.Make sure they are exported as originals so they remain full quality files.
    3.Import into Lightroom which will now see the folder on the desktop. Rename the files with a template heading while retaining the original extensions. Place them in a new lightroom folder named according to the subject.
    4. Delete the folder on the desktop of files exported from iphoto to save hard drive space. Or use the folder as lightroom’s storage destination.

    The BIG advantage here is that the files don’t get split up according to date created, so one doesn’t have to go back and reorganize everything. You will end up having two versions of any shots that reside in more than one album in iphoto so pay attention. It also gives one a chance to cull images when figuring what you want to export from Iphoto. The idea of mass importing thousands of already sorted iphoto images into an unsorted Lightroom jumble and redoing it all seems a bit crazy.

  17. Matt S 1 August, 2010 at 11:48 Reply

    I have a few simple questions…Ive been using iphoto (which I have been looking to get away from for a while) as my photo sorting software with photoshop as my editing software. I really want to upgrade to lightroom. When I do, should i be using light room to sort all of my photos as they come straight off my camera instead of iphoto. If not Is there another program that I should look into for managing photos? What is your process for initial photo storage and sorting?

  18. Allan Johns 31 July, 2010 at 05:31 Reply

    I have always found it easier to reference files in iPhoto in the first place. If I need to export any modifications I have made, I select the the album or pictures within an album and export as full size tiffs to a folder or sub-folder where I keep my originals. It’s then simple to mport into Lightroom by adding them (Not move).

    If you don’t have referenced files and iPhoto handles the originals as well, you can use the dame method to export the originals (without any modifications) and then repeat the process to export the modified versions. You can then import both into Lightroom.

  19. peter nuttycombe 30 July, 2010 at 16:57 Reply

    Not good. Terry White has an easier method, less complicated workflow. Look up iPhoto to Lightroom by TERRY WHITE in You Tube.

    • Matt Kloskowski 30 July, 2010 at 22:07 Reply

      Peter. I’m familiar with Terry’s “Lightroom to iPhoto” video but I can’t find anything from him for iPhoto to Lightroom (which is what we I mentioned we get all the questions on). If you have a link please share.

  20. Andreas 30 July, 2010 at 07:03 Reply

    One alternative would be to first copy the entire originals folder to the desktop, then copy the _content_ of the modified folder to _inside_ the originals folder on the desktop. Answer yes when asked if existing files should be replaced.

    This will get you only one copy of each file but it will be the modified one if there has been modifications and the original one else. This would be exactly the same as shown inside iPhoto.

  21. Jeff 30 July, 2010 at 03:03 Reply

    Is it possible to get a full screen button? I don’t like having to download the videos for that feature!


  22. RichardP 29 July, 2010 at 21:45 Reply

    I only have one comment today. Why on earth does anybody ever use iphoto to begin with. Apple should include a warning with it- “Use of iphoto can be hazardous to your photographic heath”!

    • peter nuttycombe 30 July, 2010 at 17:02 Reply

      It is good to use iPhoto you can then move things around to ipod iphone and iweb.

    • peter nuttycombe 30 July, 2010 at 17:05 Reply

      It’s useful to use iPhoto sometimes, to synchronise with iPhone, iPad, iWeb, all the i-gadgets. Check out Terry White iPhoto to Lightroom & back, in You Tube

    • John.B 10 August, 2010 at 14:54 Reply

      “I only have one comment today. Why on earth does anybody ever use iphoto to begin with.”

      Because Lr is three hundred bucks and iPhoto is included with their Mac?

    • Derek 10 July, 2011 at 13:18 Reply

      Everyone has to start somewhere, including me! This page is a savior! Thank you so much for posting this. Now I am off to look at when you are running LR classes in Seattle.

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