Don’t cage your data!

It is such an innocent option in Apples iPhoto.app.

Copy items to the iPhoto Library

Or in the newer Photos.app from Apple:

Copy items to the Photos Library

But these checkboxes will haunt you for many years to come.

Why?

These options actually ask you to give up the ownership of your photos and videos, and place them inside the walled garden of iPhoto or Photos.app.

The golden cage.

But that is great, isn’t it? A paradise, right? You don’t have to worry about files, folders, and all that crazy stuff anymore!

Indeed.

But you will have to worry about something else.

How long will the software that you are trusting now with your precious data, survive?

 

Case 1: Apples iPhoto

Introduced in 2002, for no particular reason, Apple had suddenly killed it in 2014.

Case 2: Apples Aperture

The wonderful pro photographers app that was so highly acclaimed and loved, was suddenly terminated by Apple in 2014 as well.

Case 3: Google Picasa

A free app that Google had released in 2002, was also suddenly terminated in 2016, no reason given.

Case 4: Extensis Portfolio

A quite popular commercial digital asset manager, a desktop software for Mac and Windows, was also suddenly discontinued in favor of the vastly more expensive web service the company wanted to sell.

 

All these unexpected deaths of solid and useful software products show you a very important thing:

Don’t cage your data!

 

How do these products and others cage your data?

Extensis Portfolio had a nice way of dealing with keywords. The huge problem was that it kept these keywords only to itself. It never wrote them back to your actual photos. Caged data.

Of course, as long as you keep using only that software, this might be fine.

But what if that software suddently ceases to exist?

Fortunately, the Extensis Portfolio fiasco had a good ending, as the venerable NeoFinder is able to Import the Export text files of Portfolio, and these do actually include the keywords.

Apples iTunes is another great example for caged data. Or better, the Ratings you can assign to your favourite songs. These ratings are never stored in the song files. No other app can ever see them. And there were rumors already that Apple could take away these ratings as “too complicated”, and replace them with a single, simple “heart” vote. Boom. Caged data it is.

Adobe Lightroom also has a quite nice metadata editor, but it also keeps all the data you have entered there in its own private cage, until you explicitely ask it to disgorge it.

You must manually call the Save Medata to file command, hidden deep in the context menu, to force Lightroom to write back the data you have entered.

Conclusion

If you wish to keep your photos and videos and their metadata around for many years to come, and protect them, you need a better approach.

Free your data!

Step 1:

Store your photos and videos in a clear, and well designed folder structure.

A very common approach is to create a new folder for each year, and inside of it, create subfolders for the shooting, vacation, and event.

Step 2:

Only add keywords, descriptions, and other metadata in such a way that other applications can use them immediately, too.

A perfect way of doing that is the new NeoFinder 7 with its built-in Adobe XMP editor. It will write back all ratings, keywords, descriptions, and other extra information into the photo file itself, or in an industry standard “sidecar” XMP file.

NeoFinder does not cage this data internally somewhere, instead it immediately frees it!

That means that you can immediately use your valuable data with all other applications in your workflow, no extra steps needed.

And if one day you need to use a different tool to handle this? Or a different platform? Easy, just use it, as your data is free, and not caged somewhere.

Think long term. Five years, 10 years, or 30 years.

How long do you want to use your photos?

Find Space Eaters!

So you have that shiny new and ultra fast SSD (solid state disk) in your Mac, enjoying its blazing speed, and then disaster strikes:

The disk is full!

How can that happen?

The super fast SSD usually have a smaller capacity than regular and slower hard disks. But even those can quickly fill up, and you may wonder where all that space went.

Well, no more wonders.

You can buy some expensive special software to find out, or simply use your versatile NeoFinder now to find out what eats up your disk space!

 

Step 1: Get the Disk Inventory

First, catalog your disk with some special NeoFinder Cataloging Preferences:

catSettings1As we are only interested in the used disk space for files, we can ignore any meta data and thumbnails, so turn it all of.

The same for the Archive Files: In this case, we are not interested in their contents, so turn all of them off:catSettings2

And last, we must make sure we get all invisible files, as they are very important for our purpose, so the Ignore section should be set up like this:

catSettings3

If all is set up, let NeoFinder catalog the disk for you.

progress

Step 2: Evaluate your findings and start deleting

Now let’s look at the content of that catalog, and thus the actual content of your disk. Ask NeoFinder to display the content in List View, and sort that list by Size, so that the largest items are located on top:

result

NeoFinder shows you exactly what needs how much space on your disk. And as opposed to Apples Finder display, NeoFinder will show you hidden and invisible files and folders, too. So this is the only way to really see what is going on with all the space of your disk!

A new important notes first:

Never delete anything inside the System folder! Really. This is where your Mac OS X lives, and thou shall not delete or change anything inside it. End of story.

Only delete files or folders that you know you don’t need anymore. In doubt, search the Internet and try to learn what a file or folder is all about, and if you can safely delete it or not.

Now let us look into the drive scan results.

In this example, the Users folder takes up more than 125 GB on space, which is a lot. Let’s see if we can do anything about that.

Click in the little triangle in front of the icon in a line to open its content in the list. Repeat until you see something you can safely delete.

mobile backupIn the example, more than 88 GB of disk space are taken up by Movies, so I will have to look through those to see what I can remove. Another large folder with 11 GB of files inside Library is called Developer, and is used by Apples Xcode for various purposes, so we will leave that alone today.

The Application Support folder has some stuff we can remove. Inside MobileSync, the folder Backup contains 6.6 GB of data that I don’t need anymore. These are backups of an iPhone or iPad, and some are rather old. Since I have all data from these devices safely stored in other places as well, I can remove them safely to regain almost 7 GB of space.

How do I do that with NeoFinder?

Simply use the contextual menu. It has a “Delete from Catalog and Volume” command, which will do precisely that:

delete from disk

Depending on the amount of files and folders you are deleting, that may take a moment.

You noticed that NeoFinder even gives you a summary of the number of files and folders in that item, in its Inspector? There are 17753 files in this particular folder, wow.

inspector sumary

Another interesting place to look for wasted space is the Caches folder. This is normally also hidden from you by Apples Finder, but NeoFinder can look right inside it.

Some Applications waste a lot of space. The really cool Web Editor RapidWeaver, for example. Every time you upload changes to a web site, it will create a large copy of your document in the SandwichArchives folder, but it will never delete that. If you use RapidWeaver a lot, there may be a very large wasted disk space to be cleaned up here:

rapidweaver

Apples Mail has some bugs, too. It will never delete any attachments you have opened, regardless how old they are. But it creates yet another new copy of the file every time you click on it. Very inefficient. So go and find the folder Library -> Containers -> com.apple.mail -> Mail Downloads, and safely delete it. Mail has stored the actual attachments safely elsewhere in its Mail folder, these here are really only temporary files that eat up space:

mail downloads

The usually hidden private folder also contains some things we can delete.

Screen Shot 2016-04-27 at 10.21.38The huge sleepimage file, for example. It is usually as large as the memory size you have installed in your Mac, and that is exactly what it is used for. When your Mac goes to sleep, Mac OS X will write the entire memory into that file. Unfortunately, it will never delete that again, so you can safely do that. Of course, the very next time your Mac goes to sleep again, that file will be created anew.

Another item is the systemstats folder, which contains more than 340 MB in more than 6500 files here in this example. It contains statistics about your system and its power usage, and it can be safely deleted.

We will look into more places for unnecessary files in the next months, and post results below in the comments section. Please use that as well if you know anything that can go away.

As you can see, NeoFinder is a really powerful and amazing tool that can help you clean up your disk, and regain a lot of empty space for you!

Step 3: Even more options

And if that is not enough, use the cool advanced Find Duplicates feature in NeoFinder to see if you have any unnecessary duplicates on your disk.

NeoFinder can do that. No other tools required.

Extensis Portfolio Importer for NeoFinder!

Incredibly good news for Extensis Portfolio users!

The brand new NeoFinder 6.9 now contains an importer for your precious Portfolio data, including thumbnails and keywords.

After Extensis has rudely abandoned its desktop users by discontinuing their quite popular Portfolio product, we have received a large number of requests to help salvage that valuable data.

In the past months, we have been very busy preparing the technology that allows us to offer you a brand new Importer for Extensis Portfolio, further increasing the already very large list of file formats that NeoFinder can import and use. No other product offers these many importers at all.

Since the actual database format of Portfolio files is private, not documented, and actually quite complex, we have decided to use their Export data as the foundation for the NeoFinder Importer.

Here is an overview of the migration process.

1) Open your Portfolio database in Extensis Portfolio

2) Select all images you wish to migrate

Portfolio Export 1
3) Use the “Export Field Values…” menu command in the File menu of Portfolio

4) Make sure to select all fields, as NeoFinder can import a lot of them, and every bit of information is valuable
Portfolio Export 2
5) Remember how you named the exported text file, and where you saved it

6) Launch NeoFinder and use the Import Catalogs menu command in the File Menu

7) Select “Portfolio Export file” as the format, and select the text file you have exported in step 5

8) NeoFinder will ask you for the folder that contains the thumbnails that Portfolio has created. By default, that folder is located in the same folder as the original database document. Its name usually ends with the suffix “_previews”. It is possible that this folder was only generated if you have selected the option “Enable Screen Previews” when you have created the database in Portfolio.

Screen Shot 2016-02-15 at 16.57.30If you cannot find such a thumbnails folder, import the data to NeoFinder anyway, and let NeoFinder later update these catalogs to generate its own thumbnails for you from the original files.

9) Watch and enjoy how NeoFinder imports your valuable catalog, including all IPTC, EXIF data, and all the keywords you may have assigned to your images.

Is a Tag a Keyword?

NeoFinder 6.8 has added the ability to add Tags to files and folders. These Tags will not only be written into the NeoFinder database, but also added to the actual file or folder on your disk.

So is a Tag a Keyword? Or what?

Well, keywords are widely used to add helpful information to photos, or movies, and songs. There are many different ways of adding them, and the manual labor of adding these keywords always pays off when the time comes and you search for something.

With Mac OS X 10.8, Apple has added Tags to its file system, and gave you the ability to edit them directly from the Get Info window for a file:

Screen Shot 2015-10-14 at 15.40.10

That is pretty cool, and it does not change the actual file data at all. And it even works for folders! Of course, Apple lets you search for these Tags, too, and that makes a lot of sense.

Introducing NeoFinder.

NeoFinder was able to catalog these Tags since version 6.0 (for the older OpenMeta Tags, which were similar), and NeoFinder 6.4 for the freshly introduced Finder Tags from Apple.

And now, with NeoFinder 6.8, you can actually edit and add these Tags to any file and folder directly from inside the Inspector of NeoFinder itself, if the original file is available:

Screen Shot 2015-10-14 at 15.44.20

Isn’t that cool?

But wait, is that now a Keyword or a Tag?

Well, it is a Tag, as these are added to the file or folder an an “extended attribute” in the file system, and the original content of the file is not changed at all.

In fact, changing or adding the Tags of a file doesn’t even change its modification date, something to keep in mind when running a backup.

So a Tag ist not yet a real Keyword. A real Keyword is written into the original file, using a tool like Adobe Bridge, Photoshop, or GraphicConverter, and a format like IPTC or XMP. NeoFinder can catalog these, of course, but not edit them.

Yet.

Just wait and see. 🙂