Using Aperture 3’s Places

Using Aperture 3’s Places


A Guest Post by Chris Folsom.

One of the great new features of Aperture 3 (get an upgrade from previous versions here) is the ability to add location data to photos and then display those photos on a map based on where they were taken. While similar features were previously available from plug-ins and add-ons, none of them handled geotagging as easily and elegantly as the native Aperture 3 Places system does now.

Getting Started

To enable the Places view in Aperture, simply click the Places button near the upper-right hand corner of the photo browser.


Doing so will display a map in the upper window where you normally view photos. The map is contextual to whatever project or album you are currently viewing. If the selected album or project doesn’t have any map data, it will default to a world map. If there is location data, a map will be displayed for those specific areas.

Adding Location information to your photos

Chances are, unless you were already using a geotagging plug-in, most of your photos won’t show up in Places. The one exception might be photos taken with a GPS equipped smartphone (such as the iPhone). The GPS data added to those photos will appear in Aperture 3 without any additional work.

But what about other non-GPS equipped cameras? Aperture 3 gives us a few options…

The first option is to open the Places view and do a search for a particular location. For this example, I’ll search for Fort Worden State Park in Washington State where I took some photographs a couple of years ago. I didn’t have a GPS device with me at the time but I would still like my photos to appear on the Places map.


?As I am typing, Aperture 3 presents me with a couple of location options and Fort Worden is on the list. Selecting it will immediately zoom the map in on that area. Now it is a simple matter of dragging the photos to the area on the map where they were taken. It isn’t quite as accurate as having true location data, but it is an easy solution for when a GPS isn’t available.

If you do have a GPS logger, Aperture will work with that too. If you aren’t familiar with GPS logging devices, they are small systems that can be clipped to a belt or camera bag and will track your location as you move around. Alternatively, if you own an iPhone you can download an app like GeoLogTag which will provide the same functionality on your phone. After the GPS logger has captured some data, it will create a text file that can be imported into Aperture 3.

The importing process is fairly easy. Highlight the project you wish to geotag and then switch to the Places view. Click the “GPS” button and then “Import GPS Track”. Find the GPS file on your computer and click “Choose Track File”.


The location data will show up as a blue line on the map. Drag one of your photos to the line and you’ll be asked if you want Aperture 3 to assign locations to the photos. Click the “Assign Locations” button and the GPS log will be matched up with photos based on their timestamps. Now the location data is imbedded in the image files themselves, even if you export them out of Aperture. This is a very handy feature for sites like Flickr that allow you to show location data on your photos.


?One other note worth mentioning… if you turn your GPS logging device on and off multiple times during one trip (to save battery life, for example), you may end up with more than one track file imbedded in a GPX file. To select these different tracks, click on the “GPS” button and then “Tracks and Waypoints”. You’ll be given a list of the track files included in the GPX file. You may have to go through multiple tracks to get all of your photos tagged.


I hope this helps you get the most out of a very cool new feature in Aperture 3. I know it is something I will be using a lot more of in the future.

Chris Folsom is a photographer based in Baltimore, MD. You can view more of his photos at Flickr or follow his photographic endeavors on Twitter.

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Some Older Comments

  • Poofterorg April 9, 2011 12:36 pm

    I found a way to get out of Places!
    The only way I found was to double click one of the images I was placing.
    My way involves creating a keyboard shortcut for going back to View > Browser.

    I looked through all the menus for all the keyboard shortcuts to make sure the one I planned to use wouldn't conflict with others.

    I decided on Command B.

    Here's how I did it. It works. No more frustration trying to get out of Places!


    Simply open up Keyboard and select Application Shortcuts, click the + and change the pull down "All Applications" to "Aperture."

    Then in the "Menu Title" box enter "Browser" (without quotes of course).

    Click in the "Keyboard Shortcut" box and type Command B (or whatever you chose).

    Click "Add."

    I'm running 10.6.7 so this worked for me even though I had Aperture running, but you may want to Quit it if you have an earlier version of Mac OS. [eimg url='' title='216763_10150151335049500_817429499_6303506_4639034_n.jpg']

  • Beau January 29, 2011 04:22 pm

    I need to know how to write the location to the master files, so when i access them from another program the location will be visible.. is this done through the metadata?
    Please let me know!

  • Annie Niemoose August 22, 2010 08:59 am

    Is it possible to have Aperture just pull in the geo data automatically based on timestamp? It seems like a bit of a hassle to have to drag each photo to a location. Much easier to synchronize the time on my camera to the time on my iPhone.

  • Chris March 13, 2010 10:05 pm

    Actually Trudy, removing all of the geotag information is pretty easy. Open up Aperture and click the "Places" group in the Library section (on the left side of the Aperture application). This will show every photo with GPS data in its metadata.

    Select one of the photos from the browser along the bottom of the screen and press Command+A to select all.

    Click the "Metadata" menu at the top of the screen and choose the "Remove Locations" option. Click on a different project and then go back into the Places group and everything will be gone.

  • Trudy March 13, 2010 01:12 pm

    I wanted to use geo tagging but being completely new to this program, I made a few mistakes in the tagging. Now I want to remove all tags/pins and start over but I cannot find a single help guide or tutorial with the answer. I refrain from asking anyone on twitter because many people claim experthood and can't instruct someone how to download the program, let alone any troubleshooting. The easiest way to see if someone is an "expert" or not is to ask a question and wait to hear crickets or BS. LOL. I asked several people and instead of admitting that they did not know, they made all kinds of wrong answers up.

    If you know how to remove all pins (make the software look like I never pinned/tagged a place to a photo before) please let me know. Thanks.

  • Rodney A March 9, 2010 11:22 pm

    I just take a picture of the area with my iphone. It has geotag data in the image and then I use a photo management software to update the info in the relevant photos by just simple cut and paste. May not be the most efficient way but it is cheap and relatively quick once you have the system in place. And I always have my iphone with me.

  • Mike Bird March 5, 2010 12:32 pm

    Newbie to the iMac (slow learner), but got Aperture 3 and LOVE it! Have been photographing for 30 years, all over Canada. Needless to say have a big library of slides. The places feature is great to sort pics by place and it is so easy to use.
    My only regret? That I didn't have this capability 30 years ago, but this old dog is learning some new tricks.

  • Todd Sieling March 5, 2010 11:54 am

    Thanks Scott I'll poke around with it some more from what you said. I was using Places more this morning and as happens with Apple software sometimes, the way to what I wanted was obscure, but after I knew it things became very easy.

  • Scott Randolph March 5, 2010 04:34 am

    I've updated to Aperture 3 and have been going all the way back to my 1999 photos and adding GPS data. The way I do it is by staying in View mode, going to the Metadata menu to "Manage Places" - I can more easily add a new location and pinpoint it's EXACT location on the map. Closing the Manage Places menu takes me back to my View menu. I can then select multiple images and click on Assign Location from the Metadata menu.

    I'm at work on my PC so I'm going from memory on the exact menu item names but, I can do all the geotagging I need to do from the Browse or Split View menus. I never actually have to visit the Places menu.

  • Todd Sieling March 5, 2010 01:13 am

    I've never used GPS logging before and am going to try out some iphone apps that do this to see if it can cut it.

    One thing about Places in Aperture that I've noticed is that it's not easy to get out of Places mode. Once I'm done assigning locations, I need to go to the View menu to switch back to the Browser; the V keyboard toggle is disabled at that point. Does anyone have a more elegant way to exit Places mode?

  • Greg Taylor March 5, 2010 01:04 am

    I am an Aperture user but I've been slow to upgrade to 3 - I think the jury is still out on the upgrade. While geo tagging photos is cool - I don't think I would use this feature.

  • Michael March 5, 2010 12:34 am

    I'm loving the places feature, the ability to search Google for locations from within Aperture makes adding location info to older photos a breeze. Along with the non-destructive brushes this is one of the features I upgraded to Aperture 3 for.