Yes, the new Apple Photos app can be used without iCloud

With the latest update of OS X Yosemite 10.10.3 Apple added the much anticipated Photos app. Photos which Apple developed to work more closely with the Photos app on iOS devices and in the process has meant the ceasing of development of iPhoto and Aperture.

While Apple advertises the iCloud Photo Library to sync photos it still remains possible to sync photos via iTunes for those that don’t wish to upload all of their photos. At the time 10.10.3 was released iTunes was also updated to support Photos. In order to change syncing from iPhoto to the Photos app, one needs to setup and resync the photos.

When opening the Photos for the first time it will ask about using the iCloud Photo Library at which time you can decline. To make any changes later go into the iCloud Preferences pane within Photos.

In iTunes after you have connected your iPhone or iPad select it and then find the tab for Photos in the Settings. Here there is an option with “Copy photos from Photos”  and then select which photos you want to transfer. You can transfer all photos or recent months or particular albums. When you apply the changes it will resync your photos.

My personal use of iPhoto at present (and now Photos) is primarily for syncing photos between the Mac and iOS devices. I also use it for the occasional project, such as gift cards. To avoid depending on iPhoto/Photos which hides the pictures in the Finder I import into a regular folder structure and use other software such as GraphicConverter to access the photos. Importing the photos can be done using Image Capture.

Some more tips for using the Photos app:

  • Select “Show Sidebar” from the “View” menu, in order to see albums listed.
  • Photos doesn’t appear to support Events, however, events in iPhoto are imported into albums.
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Upgrading an iPhoto Library

In the process of moving photos that were originally on an older Mac onto my current Mac with Mavericks and iPhoto 9.5.1. When I first opened the library there weren’t any images showing. To help in this situations Apple has a Library Upgrader available. The upgrader is for iPhoto libraries that you want to use from iPhoto ’08 (version 7) or earlier. iPhoto will still go through the upgrading process when you open the library after that. This worked for a couple different libraries when I used the upgrader.

To open a library other than the default one, use the option key when starting iPhoto. There is also a shareware program called iPhoto Library Manager that is useful when you are working with multiple libraries.

Update 17/04/2014: Unfortunately I found the upgrader doesn’t work in all cases and the pictures still don’t appear in iPhoto. iPhoto Library Manager can help in these cases by using the “Extract Photos” menu item. This will search for the pictures in the library and put them in a folder on your hard drive.