Every time I give a talk or class on Aperture, someone asks this question: “is there any way to get Aperture to rename my referenced master files when I import?” The short answer is: there’s no built-in way to do this, but there are a couple of workarounds. I’m going to detail both of those in this entry and the next, but before I do that, I’m gonna make you suffer through a lecture. I’m not going to do this simply because I like to hear myself type, but because if you’re asking this question, I think there’s a chance that you’re not fully embracing the Aperture paradigm.
The fact is: there’s really no reason to rename your referenced master files. In fact, there’s no reason for you to care what they’re named at all. Aperture will always keep track of what your master file is named, and where it’s stored. With Version 1.5, you’ve got all the tools you need to move this master file, regardless of what it’s named, and Aperture will continue to keep track of it. And, if you ever want a copy of the master file, you can simply ask Aperture to export it for you.
If you say “but when I export edited images, I want them named a particular thing” then the master file name is still irrelevant, because you can specify the exported name at the time of export. If you say “but I want my images to have meaningful, descriptive names when I work on them in Aperture.” That, I completely understand, but that’s why Aperture provides version names. Remember, each image that you work on in Aperture is just a version based on the master image. Each version can have its own name, and you can pass that version name on to your exported files when you save them.
When you’re working with images, Aperture serves as an extremely capable Finder replacement. Because it keeps track of where all your images are, you don’t have to. What’s more, you don’t have to care what those files are named. If you embrace this underlying philosophy, you’ll have a much easier time crafting a workflow that is seamless and easy to follow, because you won’t be trying to set Aperture on top of the Finder. Aperture can’t fit into a Finder-based workflow, because Aperture and the Finder try to do the same types of things - organize files. When it comes to photos, though, Aperture is much more capable than the Finder. For more on this “Aperture philosophy” take a look at this.
Some people, though, will argue that they still want to rename their master files, just in case they ever decide to stop using Aperture. Here at Inside Aperture, we don’t really talk about the eventuality of switching from Aperture to something else, but just in case you’re someone who spends a lot of time worrying about the future, here’s one way that you can use Aperture to rename referenced master files that have been imported as references. (Aperture’s Import dialog includes an option to rename images imported into the Aperture library.)
1. Select the referenced image in Aperture. For this trick to work, you need to know where the original image is stored. If you’re not sure of its location, choose File > Manage Referenced Files. The Manage Referenced Files dialog box will show you the path to the file.
2. Once you’ve figured out the original path, close the Manage Referenced Files dialog box.
3. Choose File > Relocate Master. Aperture will present you with a Save dialog box. Navigate to the location where the file is currently stored (the one you looked up in step 1). You can now use Aperture’s standard renaming options to give the file a new name. Aperture won’t move the file. Since you’ve selected the original location for the destination, Aperture will simply leave the image where it is, but give it a new name.
Using this technique, you can perform batch operations, as long as all of the images are in the same folder. If you need to rename images in multiple folders, you’ll have to do those in separate batches.
Next week, a way to rename master files upon import.