Photos for Mac: The ultimate guide

(Image credit: iMore)

Welcome to Photos for Mac

Welcome to Photos for Mac (Image credit: iMore)

With Photos for Mac, all the pictures and videos you've taken on your iPhone or iPad, or imported into iPhoto or Aperture, will always be available to you on any of your Macs, as will any future pictures and videos you take or import, including your DSLR images, even in RAW!

Add to that automatic, intelligent grouping based on time and place, and face detection, non-destructive editing, and the ability to order prints, books, and more, and Photos for Mac makes for the ultimate picture and video app for the mainstream.

Here's your ultimate guide to setting up and using it!

How to get started with Photos for Mac

Photos is your one-stop shop for just about everything you'd want in a photo organization app. You can store, edit, share, and more in Photos for Mac, and all you have to do is dive in and get started. Here's how!

How to get started with iCloud Photo Library

iCloud Photo Library on iPhone

iCloud Photo Library on iPhone (Image credit: Joseph Keller/iMore)

iCloud Photo Library aims to deliver on the promise of having all your photos available on all your devices all of the time. To accomplish this, iCloud Photo Library works with Photos for Mac as well as with Photos for iOS and, as the glue that holds everything together. Shoot a video on your iPhone, take a picture with your iPad, import from your DSLR on your Mac, and all of it goes up to Apple's servers and is made available on all your other devices. Part backup, part sync, part storage optimizer, if you let it, iCloud Photo Library can make micromanaging your pictures and videos a thing of the past.

How to find and manage your pictures and videos in Photo for Mac

Photos for Mac uses the same hierarchy as Photos for iOS — intelligently grouping images and videos into moments, collections, and years. That lets Photos for Mac show you small moments in time and space, like yesterday at the park, but also collections of moments marked by larger changes, like that party across town or that week at the beach, and even an entire year all at once. That way you can quickly zoom out, drill down, or scrub through to find exactly the photos and videos you want to look at, edit, or share. And all it takes is a few clicks and swipes! Of course, you can also find by faces, location, keywords, and more!

How to edit your pictures and videos in Photos for Mac

From magic wand, to basic color, light, and black & white tweaks, or full, granular control over exposure, saturation, intensity, and more. You can also rotate, flip, crop, and straighten, remove redeye, touch up blemishes, and more. Photos for Mac has everything you need to make your pictures look exactly how you want. What's more, all the edits are non-destructive, so if you don't get something perfect the first time, you can change it again whenever you like, or even go right back to the original. Combine that with the large screen, and editing photos on the Mac isn't just easy, it's accessible to everyone.

How to share pictures and videos from Photos for Mac

Share directly via iCloud, Mail, Messages, or AirDrop, or socially with Twitter, Facebook, Vimeo, or Flickr. Either way, you can do it quickly and easily right from Photos for Mac. Simply find the picture or video you want to share — or multiple pictures or videos — choose the way you want to share them, and you're good to go. Thanks to sharing extensions, other services can plug in as well. It's the fastest, easiest way to get your pictures and videos from where they are to where you want them to be.


Do you have a question about Photos for Mac? Let us know in the comments below!

Mick is a staff writer who's as frugal as they come, so he always does extensive research (much to the exhaustion of his wife) before making a purchase. If it's not worth the price, Mick ain't buying.

  • Finally! Have been eager to get the new Photos app since I got my new Retina iMac in December. Deleted the iPhotos library at that point and have not been using it, so will populate the new app with a nice, clean, fresh install of images!
  • Hmmm ... just upgraded and two problems right away: 1) Not enough iCloud storage to use the main feature (and I already pay for extra space to begin with) 2) It kept the old iPhoto library, and the old iPhoto app too, so I just lost 100GB of storage. I thought this was supposed to *replace* iPhoto.
  • "I thought this was supposed to *replace* iPhoto." -- It does... but leaves iPhoto for those that want to keep it around for a while.... there is NOTHING stopping you from deleting iPhoto.
  • Well, nothing is stopping Apple from telling us that after we install it, and nothing is stopping Apple from letting people know that the space for pictures on their hard drives just doubled. Also, most users will not know to dig around in the Pictures folder and be able to find the old iPhoto library. Most wouldn't be confident enough to delete it either. In other words, for most users, this old iPhoto library will remain on their hard drive until Apple deletes it for them.
  • My hard drive is full! Better buy and new Apple computer! Sent from the iMore App
  • Yes most users aren't too bright.....or just complainers
  • "and nothing is stopping Apple from letting people know that the space for pictures on their hard drives just doubled" Well Apple tends to stick to the truth, so they aren't going to say that. They could say "hey it looks like we made another copy of each picture, but we didn't!", but I guess they figured that would confuse or any more people then it would help.
  • Hold down the option key when you open Photos and you can create a new blank Photo library. Then go into the preferences of Photos and change the system library to this new blank library. Now you can have a separate Photo Library you keep backed up in iCloud and on your phone than the much larger library you only have on your Mac (and on your own backup).
  • How many GB is your library? I pay 4$ a month and get well more than enough with the 200GB price point. 2.) your library should be using the same reference to the original file, if it properly installed it should not have used any more space than you had before the install. If it is, give apple care a call. They're able to remote dial into your machine now and fix things without you going to a genius bar.
  • I have no desire to automatically upload everything to the cloud. It sounds great, but I just don't need that, because I would need to pay $3.99 a month. I backup my computer which also saves my photos. Right now my iPhone sends photos to photostream which then downloads photos to iPhoto. Will the iPhone still automatically download photos (local