Photos for Mac

How to Use Photos for Mac

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

Photos for Mac

Features overview

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

1. Organize photos by moment that combines of 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.

Import pictures to Photos for Mac

To use Photos for Mac, the first step is to import images from various sources to this photo manage application, such as 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 only have one single iPhoto library, Photos will import the pictures from iPhoto library automatically, when you run Photos 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 Photos app.

Photos Transfer from iPhone

How to sync or disable iCloud Photo Library

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

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

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.

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

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

Sync Photos with iCloud Photo Library

How to download photos from camera

1. Connect your camera to Mac computer via USB cable. Keep the camera turned on and in correct mode.

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

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

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

5. When the process is done, remove your camera from Mac computer.

Canon DSLR Camera

Manage albums in Photos for Mac

One important feature of Photos for Mac is to organize photos and manage albums.

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

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

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

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

Manage albums in Photos for Mac

Edit and share photos

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

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

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 top of the screen.

3. Then you can use the editing tools on right sidebar to polish the picture.

How to edit photo information

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

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

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

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

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

Use Photos on Mac


In this article, we have introduced the necessary knowledge you should grasp about Photos for Mac. In order 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 Photos app. To help users manage photos and albums, Photos for Mac offers People and Places features. It is able to scan and organize photos based on faces and locations. When it comes to edit mode, some users have complaint lack of tools. Fortunately, Apple allows developers to create dedicated extensions and plugins for Photos on Mac.