The new Photos app from Apple is available for free for anybody who upgrades to the latest Yosemite 10.10.3 operating system (also free).
Apple is no longer creating new versions of its previous photographic apps, iPhoto and Aperture, although the company is keen to stress that Photos is not meant to be a replacement for Aperture.
It’s worth remembering that this is just Photos 1.0, and as such Apple is likely to be adjusting and updating the app over the coming months and years to include different and new features after feedback from consumers.
It’s very easy to get hold of Photos. All you need to do is install the latest Yosemite operating system when prompted by your Mac. After it’s done, you’ll find that the new Photos app is automatically installed.
If you already have Aperture and iPhoto on your machine, and you still want to use them, you don’t need to worry about these being deleted despite the fact that Apple will no longer be updating them.
Once you have installed the new operating system, launch the Photos app for the first time and you’ll be prompted with a few different screens to get you started.
If you have an iPhone or an iPad, or perhaps another Mac, you’ll already be familiar with iCloud, and you’ll be asked if you want to use your iCloud library when you start up Photos. This means that photos you take with your other Apple devices will be automatically synced with your Mac via the iCloud if you choose to use it.
Apple gives you 5GB free iCloud storage. You will almost definitely want to upgrade that if you take photos on a regular basis, even if just with your iPhone. You can get 20GB for £0.79 a month, which may cover you if you’re only using your phone to take pictures with. There are other plans, such as 200GB, 500GB and 1TB available from £2.99 up to £14.99 a month.
If you’re planning to use iCloud / Photos with photos you’ve taken on your camera, and especially if you’re using raw files, you’ll definitely need to get one of the higher value packages. It’s worth noting that you can get 1TB for free from Flickr, although it’s not automated, and therefore not quite as stress free as using iCloud.
Another interesting point to note is where you keep your files. If you’re using something like a MacBook air it’s likely that you won’t have very much room on your hard drive. In preferences you can select “Mac Optimiser” so that your photos are stored entirely in the cloud, with just a thumbnail showing on your computer - you can download the full resolution version at any time you need it.
However, if, like many photographers, you keep your photos on an external hard drive, you will need to import them into Photos before you can use them - and therefore potentially fill up either, or both, your hard drive and iCloud.
One way to get around this is to hold down Alt on your keyboard and select the Photos icon from the toolbar. If you do this, you’ll be able to select a different location for your Photos library, such as an external hard drive. You will need to have the hard drive connected whenever you want to use the Photos app, but you can always switch back to the default Photos Library by opening with the alt key pressed down again at a later time.