Stupid Aperture Tricks: Changing the Rating of a Batch of Photos

Long story short: in Aperture, turn off the Inspector, select several photos at once, right-click one, change the rating of any one photo, and this will change the ratings of all photos you’ve selected.

It makes me crazy when something small and stupid threatens to derail what should be a short, simple activity: like, for example, changing the star rating of an entire batch of photos in Apple’s Aperture.

Today, all I wanted to do was:

– find every photo in my library with a star rating

– turn that star rating off

to create a library with no star ratings at all.

So I created a smart album designed to gather all photos with a star rating. That done, I selected all photos in the album by typing Command-A. (That’s the same, by the way, as “Edit/Select All.”) But when I changed the rating in the Inspector’s metadata panel to zero stars, Aperature would only change the rating of one photo out of the hundreds I had selected.

A Google search dragged me though a dozen or so Apple community discussion boards, where people suggested all kinds of remedies. The most popular solution is linked to the all-but-hidden and rarely referenced “Primary Only” setting in Aperture. As it turns out, there’s a tiny button on the lower right-hand edge of the Aperature window:



If it’s clicked, the changes you make to any group of selected photos will apply only to the first photo in the group. (The same thing will happen if “Primary Only” is checked off in the Edit menu.) It’s a pretty stupid button, if you ask me. Who selects a whole batch of photos, and then only wants to make changes to the first one in the selection?

And — it wasn’t my problem, either. With Primary Only turned on, rating changes would impact only one photo in the batch. With Primary Only turned off, rating changes would still only impact one photo in the batch. Madness.

Then I went down another rabbit hole: the deletion solution. For a large number of people, finding their Library folder (a chore in itself, after installing OSX Lion), locating Aperature’s .plist entry, and deleting it corrected their inability to change rating of multiple photos at once. So … I did that. And restarted Aperture. And restarted my computer. And … no change at all.

Out of frustration, I clicked around randomly, and, by chance, clicked the Inspector panel, turning that panel off in my Aperture window. With that gone, it occurred to me to right-click one of the photos in my batch and change the star rating there.

And. It. Just. Worked. In other words: when I selected a batch, turned off the Inspector, right-clicked one of the images I’d selected, and adjusted the rating through the right-click menu, the changes I made were applied to all the photos I’d selected.

Doing the same thing with the Inspector on (and changing the star rating through the Inspector’s metadata panel) still doesn’t work … and never has. So: I’m posting this for you in case, like me, you’ve already lost an hour’s work trying to do something as simple as change the rating of several Aperture photos at one time.

Mark McElroy

I'm a husband, mystic, writer, media producer, creative director, tinkerer, blogger, reader, gadget lover, and pizza fiend.

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Who Wrote This?

Mark McElroy

I'm a husband, mystic, writer, media producer, creative director, tinkerer, blogger, reader, gadget lover, and pizza fiend.

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