I took to the soapbox recently about the lack of flexibility in iPhoto for incremental backups. I still don’t have a great solution that suits my particular needs and desires, though some useful suggestions can be found in the comments of that post. But here’s a little tip that may be useful if you’ve got lots of archived iPhoto libraries and you want to quickly drill down to the standout shots. I call it the “iPhoto Favorites Library.”
In my experience, a year’s worth of photographs is around 4,000 strong. Of those 4,000 image files, somewhere between 5 and 10 percent get four- and five-star ratings. Sure, most of my photos are important to me personally, but the majority aren’t the ones I’ll go to when showing off the kids to a friend on my iPhone. Now take into consideration your yearly (or whatever) iPhoto library backups, and you’ve got a mountain of photos in several different libraries to traverse before you find your those standouts.
The solution is pretty straightforward, actually. Pull all of your four- and five-star photos (assuming you’re consistently using ratings) from each of your archived iPhoto libraries. If you’ve created Smart Albums in iPhoto in the past (such as anything with four or five stars), you can create a simple Automator workflow that filters photos from that album, selects them, and copies them to a designated folder of your choosing. This effectively exports all those photos you want, from whichever iPhoto library is currently set as the default. Is it easier than just opening that library and dragging and dropping them by hand? Probably not, but that’s your call.
Once you’ve got a folder full of four- and five-star photos from over the years, it’s time to create a new iPhoto library. Open iPhoto and hold the Option key. This allows you to select a new library to create. With that blank library open, drag all of those photos from (their file location) above into iPhoto. Moving forward, you’d just open this Favorites library and add the latest keepers to it.
Perhaps I’ve answered my own question to the iPhoto Backup issue. I don’t need to cart all of those so-so images around all year long. I could just roll with a Favorites library, and then my current yearly library. Either way, this should help you access those great photos from years passed more quickly, without having to spend time digging through multiple libraries.