A couple of people have written me asking for more information about the interaction between Aperture and the “iApps.” So, I thought I would try and explain how it all works.
With Aperture 1.5 and above, you now have the ability to share your library with all of the iLife applications. These include iWeb, iMovie HD, iDVD, iPhoto and GarageBand. In addition to the iLife apps, you can easily gain access to your Aperture images in the iWork apps, which currently include Pages and Keynote. You can also drag and drop images directly from Aperture to your desktop or even right into an iChat window.
If you have been following along with Inside Aperture for a while now, you probably already know that Aperture achieves this inter-application image sharing by utilizing Aperture’s Preview files. But if you don’t already know, Preview files are smaller, compressed Jpeg versions of your Aperture images that can be created automatically or at will.
To better explain how the sharing of images from Aperture to your iLife applications takes place, I will walk you through an example.
Let’s say for instance you are writing up a blog post in Pages. This happens to be exactly what I am doing right now, so you are getting a real behind-the-scenes look at how a “Micah Walter, Inside Aperture” post gets produced. I love using Pages because it makes it possible for me to easily lay out images and other artwork as I type. Of course, this will all get converted to plain text and HTML when I put it up on Inside Aperture, but I like using Pages because I can easily pre-visualize the look of my post.
If I want to add an image to my Pages document, I have a number of options. First, I can easily drag any image right from my Desktop into the Pages document. This could be an image I exported from Aperture, or a screen-shot I did using one of my favorite tricks; Shift-Command-4 and then the Spacebar.
I can also add an image to my Pages document using the Media Browser button at the top of my document. If I have Aperture set to “Share Image Previews With iLife Apps,” I will see a selection for both iPhoto and Aperture in the Media Browser window.
One thing to note here before we move on is that Aperture only makes available the images that are the top pick in a stack. For this example, I have a black and white version of a color original. I made the black and white version the top pick, and now I can see it available in my Pages Media Browser.
All I need to do now is drag the image from the Media Browser to the Pages document. But what really happens when I do this?
Well, let’s take a closer look. When I drag an image to Pages from the Media Browser I am actually copying the Aperture Preview file into my Pages document. Pages, like many of Apple’s apps, utilize a package document architecture. In other words, the document file that Pages produces is actually more like a folder. If I right-click my Pages document I can select Show Package Contents to see what’s happening under the hood.
In my Pages document I can see the imported Preview file, and a second version that says “filtered” in the filename. This filtered image is the result of my using the Adjust tool in Pages to add some contrast to my image.
So what does this all mean? Well, the most important thing to take from all of this is that once you add an image to an iLife app via the Media Browser, you are leaving Aperture behind. Any adjustments you make in your document’s version of your image will only be present in that particular document. Likewise, if you make any changes within Aperture to that same image version, you would have to re-drag the changed image from the Pages Media Browser to your Pages document in order to see your changes.
Preview files in Aperture make working from the road really pleasant. I can leave all of my Master image files back at home on a FireWire drive, and simply generate Preview files for the images I might want to have access to while I’m away. Currently my typical routine is to generate Preview files for my 1st selects, or the images I rate with 3 stars or higher. This way, if I’m out and about, I can easily send the preview image in an email, add it to a Pages document, or post it on a web page.