How to Use Photos for Mac - Photos App Introduction and Review

Last Updated on December 7, 2021 by Peter Wood

The Photos is a dedicated photo manager and editor for Mac. It is the successor of iPhoto and debuted by Apple in 2015. Although the Photos app offers more features and can simplify photo management and photo editing on Mac, many people still prefer to use Preview as the default photo-editing application as they have not grasped the Photos app and its features. To help you learn how to use Photos for Mac, we will talk about various Photos app features and achieve different tasks via this photo editor.

How to Use Photos for Mac

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Part 1. Photos App Features Overview

Before learning how to use Photos for Mac, let’s find out what Photos for Mac can do at a glance.

1. Organize photos by a moment that combines time and location metadata.

2. Sync photos and videos from iCloud Photo Library to Mac.

3. Edit and enhance photos easily.

4. Create photo books, calendars, and panoramas for print.

5. Share and transfer photos between various Apple devices, including iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, and Mac computers.

In a word, you can achieve all tasks related to photos within Photos for Mac.

Part 2. How to Import Pictures to Photos for Mac

To use Photos for Mac, you need to import images from various sources to this photo managing application, like iPhoto library, iCloud Photo Library, camera, or hard drive.

How to import pictures from iPhoto library

1. If you upgrade iPhoto to Photos for Mac and have one iPhoto library, you can let Photos import the pictures from the iPhoto library automatically when starting the Photos app for the first time.

2. If you have multiple iPhoto libraries, you can choose a library as you wish. Once open Photos, the choose library dialog will pop up. Click on the Choose Library button. Photos will show you all the photo libraries on your Mac computer. Then you can choose any iPhoto library and import it to the Photos app.

Photos Transfer from iPhone

How to sync or disable iCloud Photo Library

Step 1. Run the Photos app on Mac, locate to the top ribbon, and click Photos at the upper left corner of the screen.

Step 2. On the menu list, choose Preferences to open the preferences dialog.

Step 3. Go to the iCloud tab, check the iCloud Photo Library option, and then select the Optimize Mac Storage or Download Originals to this Mac according to storage capacity.

Step 4. You can download several photos from iCloud Photo Library to Photos. Unfold the File menu and choose New Smart Album. On the settings dialog, you can pick a name for the album and customize the condition, like download photos between specific dates. Then go to the View menu and choose Show Sidebar. Right-click on the new album on the sidebar and choose To Download.

Step 5. If you do not want to disable the iCloud Photo Library, you can uncheck the iCloud Photo Library option on the Preferences dialog.

Sync Photos with iCloud Photo Library

How to download photos from camera

Step 1. Connect your camera to your Mac computer via USB cable. Keep the camera turned on and incorrect model.

Step 2. Launch Photos and choose the camera under the Import section on the left sidebar.

Step 3. Then you can decide to Import All New Items or Import Selected.

Step 4. If you check the box of Delete items after import, the picture will be deleted automatically after download.

Step 5. When you finish the process, remove your camera from the Mac computer.

Canon DSLR Camera

Part 3. Manage albums in Photos for Mac

The severe feature of Photos for Mac is to organize photos and manage albums.

Step 1. Open Photos on Mac computer, choose New Album in File menu and give a name for the new photo album.

Step 2. Choose All Photos under the Albums section on the left sidebar and select the pictures you want to add to the new photo album. Then hit the add button with the plus icon on the top ribbon, choose the Album option and select the new photo album in a popup dialog. Click on the OK button to complete adding pictures to the photo album.

Step 3. In Photos for Mac, right-click on the blank area, choose New Folder from the menu list, and pick a name for the folder. Drag any existing albums into the folder.

Step 4. If you want to use albums to manage photos, you can choose Smart Albums in step 1. The difference between a standard album and an intelligent album is that the latter allows you to configure conditions.

Manage albums in Photos for Mac

Part 4. How to Edit and Share Photos with Photos App

Photos on Mac integrated photo editing tools, including crop, rotate, resize, flip, add a filter, adjust color and other parameters, and de-noise. You can go to the edit mode and edit the picture as you wish.

Step 1. Run Photos for Mac and find out the picture you want to edit in albums.

Step 2. Double-click on the picture to view it in full resolution and click on the Edit button with three circles on three lines at the screen top.

Step 3. You can use the editing tools on the right sidebar to polish the picture.

How to edit photo information

Besides editing pictures, the Photos app also allows users to edit picture information, such as title, description, and keywords.

Step 1. Choose a picture in the album or photo library and choose Info from the Window menu on the top ribbon. Or you can hold down Command + I to evoke the Info dialog.

Step 2. On the Info dialog, you can view EXIF and metadata information of the picture; or add title, description, and keywords.

How to share images

Step 1. In the Photos app on a Mac computer, find out the images you want to share and double-click on it.

Step 2. Hit the Share button at the upper right corner of the screen and choose the channel you want to share. Photos for Mac can share images through iCloud, mail, Messages, AirDrop, upload to social media and cloud.

Use Photos on Mac

Part 5. Best Photos App Alternatives on Windows and Mac

WidsMob Viewer Pro is the best Photos alternative that enables you to browse the media files from Camcorder, iPhone, or other devices. It is the all-in-one media viewer to browse the photos and videos, including JPEG, PNG, RAW, HEIC, MP4, MOV, GIF, and more other video and image formats.

1. Browse and view JPEG, HEIC, RAW files, and the video formats.

2. View, group, convert, edit and manage the media files with an easy process.

3. Provide different viewing modes browse the files in different scenarios.

4. Create slideshows with your favorite photos and media files with ease.

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Step 1: Install the program

Download and install the latest version of WidsMob Viewer Pro. Launch the program on your computer. If you have already set it as the default media viewer, you can double-click any media file to launch the program. It can view all the media files within the same folder.

Launch Media Viewer

Step 2: View the images

Whether it is a HEIC file, RAW format, JPEG, PNG, or other photo files, you can view the file directly within the program. Moreover, you can also convert the photo, add to favorite or apply filters with ease.

View Photos Viewer Pro

Step 3: Play the video files

When you browse the video file, you can also click the Play button to playback the video files. Of course, you can drag the timeline to the desired point to adjust the volume of the video.

Play Videos Viewer Pro

Step 4: Browse media files

Moreover, you can also view media files within a different folder or even add a new folder for the media file, even for the connected device, such as the iPhone, SD card of the camcorder, and others.

View Media by Folder Viewer Pro Win Download Mac Download


In this article, we have introduced the necessary knowledge you should grasp about Photos for Mac. To unify the experience on various platforms, Apple rolled out Photos app for iOS, Mac OS and tvOS. Now, you can transfer, edit and share photos within the Photos app. To help users manage photos and albums, Photos for Mac offers People and Places features. It can scan and organize photos based on faces and locations. When it comes to editing mode, some users have complaint lack of tools. Fortunately, Apple allows developers to create dedicated extensions and plugins for Photos on Mac.