Blog Post

Aperture 3: Upgrading Aperture 2 Libraries May Cause Headaches

So Aperture 3 (s aapl) is finally out. The trial has been an absolute dream to play with. It doesn’t upgrade your existing Aperture 2 library, so you need to test it on newly imported images. However, for those who immediately bit the bullet and upgraded with a full license, it hasn’t been all roses. If you’re new to Aperture in version 3, you may carry on with your day — but if you’re moving from version 2 to the 3, you should probably read on.

Hopefully, you’re reading this before you’ve run into any problems. Here at TheAppleBlog, we aim to lessen your pain. It should go without saying, but please, please, make sure you’ve got at least one backup of your Aperture library. You should have this on any given day of course, but it counts double when you’re planning on upgrading and performing any changes to software in general. With that public service announcement out of the way, we can talk tragedies (hopefully averted).

I haven’t had issues first hand (thankfully), because I’m still just using the trial version on a newly created version 3 library. But as my father-in-law dove right in, he’s had nothing but pain and frustration as Aperture 3 has attempted to update his existing library to the newer database structure. Looking at the Apple Support forums for Aperture shows that he’s not alone.

The culprit seems to be at the point in time when the library file is being converted/upgraded. The beach ball of death comes on full force, and in turn makes the Mac unusable. This can go on for hours! At best you can restart and avoid the upgrade until there’s a fix to the issue — at worst, you may lose library data.

Apple Support has recommended trying the Aperture Library First Aid. You have the option to Repair Permissions, Repair Database, or Rebuild Database with this tool. To access, you’ll need to open an Aperture Library file directly, and hold Option+Command while doing so. These processes have not proven to fix the issue, but are at least worth attempting.

116 responses (at the time of this write-up) may not be a lot, relatively speaking, but clearly represents an issue to be aware of. If you’re considering buying the upgrade to Aperture 3, you may want to keep an eye on this forum until there’s an identified issue or fix. Happy upgrading!

Thanks to Tom for the tip on this, and good luck!

58 Responses to “Aperture 3: Upgrading Aperture 2 Libraries May Cause Headaches”

  1. Bas from Lampang Thailand

    After installing and launching the full version of Aperture 3, it wanted to upgrade my AP-library 2 into 3.Pressing on the OK button caused within minutes the total destruction of my 20.000 pictures. The harddisk has now been for the 2 past months in the hands of 2 professional recovery firms without success. Back to my dealer they told me that Apple would not do anything about it. Thank you very much APPLE for destroying pics of 5 years of our family life !!!
    I thought APPLE was a responsible firm… BEWARE OF APPLE PRODUCTS ! Play with it but do not build any data with their products ! Very sorry to have converted my WINDOWS system to an APPLE one…

  2. I had a huge problem to convert my 160Gig library from A2 to A3. It took few days and everything went wrong. My structures of year month and projects was totally mismatch.
    I even considered heresy of (LR). Hope someone have an idea how to do transfer painless.

  3. I am a pro mac user and pro photographer, had most macs and still got them since the quadra 700….I now have the i7 17″ MBP running on 8gb ram hd screen and a 500gbhd, and aperture 3 is still sooooooooo slow…beach ball comes up every other edit session, force quit and restart ap3 solves that faster than any waiting, I now write a ap3 library for every client/job, keeps it small and faster…think ap3 is crap and the i7mbp aint that hot either…Mac has become PC…resistance is futile!

  4. Stan Berg

    I converted to Aperture 3 when it first came out. Low and behold I got all the photos moved over. HOWEVER, all my albums were reflected as folders and there was nothing in the folders. The pictures were all visible at the Project level. I called Apple and they told be to do the rebuild fixes, etc., which did not solve the problem. I have been using for new photos and the album structure, etc., work fine. I have had it on the back-burner to get my albums fixed and would like to address it now. The brute force is to uninstall Aperture 3, install Aperture 2, build the database from a backup, convert to Apertere 3 again (and hope the problem has been fixed by Apple), and then add the albums I had created on Aperture 3. I appreciate any advice. Thanks.

  5. I had the spinning death star repeatedly after cropping multiple images on macbook pro. I had to force quit each time. Got so annoying I ewent and upgraded the memory to 8gb, got back and it was definitely faster… until it crashed again. doh.

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  7. Wow.
    All I can say is my macbook pro is now a bad apple.
    Why does Apple refuse to deal with this when I call them?
    They want to charge me for support.
    Bull shit I say!
    This is all there fault.
    Aperture no longer opens. I thought I would upload the new firmware.
    Now I get a message saying that my graphics card is no longer up to date for Aperture 3.
    Before this I kept getting a warning message asking me to quite Aperture 3 because my Library can not be accessed.
    Grr and what do we do?
    Im now looking out side Apple for support. I seem to have no support from there team.

  8. Thanks a lot for the command + option advice . . . I upgraded few weeks before and today something went wrong in the library . . . All my five stared images were showing in the trash and all my images of every rating were in he rejected smart album and other smart albums were not showing anything . . . Repaired the database and now its running perfectly . . .

    Thanks again

    Himanshu Khagta

    • Beatrice Giacometti

      Hi! I’ve a similar problem… After importing the whole library, for one project A3 doesn’t show all photos. How did you managed the “Repairing database” operation?

      Thanks in advance!

  9. Well I bit the bullet over the weekend and bought the upgrade to install Version 3 and it went without a hitch and then installed 3.0.1 and then fired up the app. Works flawlessly.

    Just like upgrading any OS or any major app such as Aperture I wait for a while to see if there are going to be issues with the update.

    I did find that deleting my over loaded Trash Bin before installing the upgrade helped alot.

  10. Stacy Conaway

    Has anyone had experience with the 3.0.1 update? I’m wondering if it addresses any of these conversion problems. I have Aperture 2 and am waiting to upgrade until it seems that some improvements have been delivered.


  11. I imported all of my A2 libraries into one a3 library and everything seems ok. Except I cant find the masters in the new a3 library, and there is no “show in finder” option. REALLY WIERD! BC they have to be there. I still have the A2 libraries on back up.

    • Silver Fox

      Yes, Alex, the problem is only for those who are upgrading from Aperture 2. The program itself is wonderful, and you will not experience this problem if you are a first-time buyer.

  12. Hi All,

    Had a nightmare but eventually I have 3 working.

    Here is my issue. I am using a MacBook Pro 15″ 2.5GHz 4GB Ram & 250GB HDD.

    I now have 2 Aperture libraries in my Pictures folder on the finder which have details as follows :-

    Aperture Library 167.79GB and
    Aperture Library_original 170.15 GB

    Not sure what is going on but my HDD is only 250GB yet these two Libraries come to 337GB

    I presume this is the size of the library including the referenced files but I need to know the size of my library without the referenced files.

    Any help?