When Aperture v1.5 was first released, I was sure that I wanted to generate previews for all my images. Being able to generate high res JPEGS for slide shows and share them with other iLife applications made sense and seemed like a good idea.
I travel a lot and so my workflow begins on my MacBook Pro. I import the images, generate previews, edit - or at least try to do a rough edit - while in the field. (BTW, I also download the images to two backup drives I bring along.) When I get home I relocate the masters to my RAID 5 setup and I export the project to my main computer, and then import it into my “Ultimate Library.” I had been leaving the projects on my MacBookPro (with the masters stored on the Raid at home). That way I could generate custom slide shows while on the road to showcase my portfolio.
Convenience comes with a hefty price tag in terms of memory. After awhile I noticed I had significantly less free space on my MacBook Pro … and I realized that I can’t afford to have previews for all the images in all the projects. I was constantly having to juggle for space. (Yes, I’d love a new MBP with more than twice as much storage, but eventually I’d face the same issue.)
My approach now is to not have Aperture automatically generate previews. Instead I wait until I have edited the project. Then I select my 3,4 and 5 star images , hold down the Option key and choose Images >Generate Previews. That way only my favorite images have previews. Depending on your rating system, you might choose to generate previews for all starred images or just 5star, etc.
An additional benefit of this approach is that Aperture is free to let me edit and adjust the images immediately after import, rather than using resources to generate previews in the background.
In order to conserve more space on my MBP, in Preferences I keep the preview Quality at 7 and the size to fit with 1440 x 1440. (It’s a good idea to choose the size to correspond to the monitor size you’re using. That way you can do a full screen slide show.) For now that seems to be my best compromise so that I can keep a sample of these images readily accessible with me on the road and not overwhelm the hard drive. Of course it also helps to remove some of the projects from the MBP from time to time as well. The importance of these previews as a means of showing my portfolio on the road may decline for me as I use my iPhone for that. (I agree with Derrick - I LOVE having my images ready to show at a moments notice on the iPhone. What a great way to show off your portfolio!)
I’m curious to know how you balance the need for space on a laptop with the desire to access hi res previews.
(Note: I’m out of the country right now without internet access, so I won’t be able to respond to any questions until I get back at the end of the month.)