Photo Management Apps to Replace Aperture and iPhoto

The best replacements for Aperture and iPhoto

In June of 2014, I decided to do a bit of a change-up to my usual weekly Mac software pick. At the time, Apple had just officially acknowledged that Aperture would finish active development, and that iPhoto would be replaced with a new Photos app. It seemed like a good idea to use my weekly software picks column to provide some insight into photo management applications that might be good candidates to replace Aperture or iPhoto. 

Woman examining photo album

While pieces of Photos were shown at WWDC, the actual product seemed a bit nebulous, with a great deal of work to be done before it was ready for release.

That was then; this is now. Over time, this software pick has morphed into a repository for photo management apps for the Mac. I'll continue to add photo-related apps to this collection, which will take it well past the 5 Photo Management Apps seen in the original title. To be included, an app must have some management function to help you keep track of your images; it can't be just a photo editor.

With that as the background, here is my list of currently available photo management apps that you may want to consider as possible replacements for Aperture or iPhoto.

Photo Management List

Photos: This is Apple's replacement for iPhoto. You can take a look at my Photos Preview to get an idea of the capabilities of the new app. I think Photos will be a pretty good replacement for iPhoto users; Aperture users, not so much. Adobe Lightroom: Aperture and Lightroom have long been the top professional photo management apps for the Mac. Many photographers have built their photo workflow using one or the other as the key image management app in their businesses. Lightroom may be a logical direction to move in, but first Adobe will need to come up with a graceful and easy way to migrate Aperture libraries, as well as offer equivalent workflow utilities. Lightroom is available for $119.88 with a one-year subscription that includes Photoshop CC; a demo is available.

AfterShot Pro 2: Corel's photo management and editing app certainly deserve a good long look. Its RAW conversion speed and bulk processing capabilities make AfterShot a leading contender when it comes to a pro photographer's workflow needs. It also includes a photo asset management system, with a very fast search and tagging system. Corel has said that it will offer AfterShot 2 with a special Aperture competitive upgrade price of $59.99. The standard price is $79.99; a demo is available.

Lyn: This lightweight and very fast media browser can replace many of the basic features of iPhoto and even some features of Aperture. It provides editing tools that are easy to use and supports a wide range of image types. Lyn is $20; a demo is available.

Unbound: Pixite promotes Unbound as a fast photo manager that will leave iPhoto libraries in the dust when it comes to organizing and viewing photos. Unbound uses standard Finder folders for image organization, which can make backup and recovery of images a bit easier. Unbound is available in the Mac App Store for $9.99; a demo is available.

Emulsion: This pro-level cataloging app, which happens to be available at an attractively low price, offers many of the library management capabilities found in the departed Aperture and iPhoto apps. One feature I really like is the ability to assign an external image editor that will be used by Emulsion for photo manipulation. The emulsion can also make use of an Aperture plug-in you may already have.

Graphic Converter: Graphic Converter from Lemke Software is an old standby for Mac users who need to perform basic image format conversions as well as limited editing. The newest versions of this app bring more powerful editing functions and the ability to work directly with image libraries you've created on your Mac.

There are of course many other photo editing and management apps available, including a number of free web-based offerings. We'll take a look at some of them at a later date.

See other software choices from Tom's Mac Software Picks.

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