Photos for OS X Edit Levels Mac screenshot 001

When OS X El Capitan releases for public consumption in the fall, it will deliver, among other features, an update to the built-in Photos for Mac application.

As a matter of fact, El Capitan marks the first major feature-packed update to Apple’s photo-management solution since Photos for Mac debuted as part of April’s OS X Yosemite 10.10.3 software update.

As mentioned in the official El Capitan release notes distilled into human-readable form by Jason Snell of Six Colors, Photos 1.1 brings out about half a dozen new features that didn’t make it into the initial release, on top of a bunch of bug fixes, security improvements and optimized performance.

Before we get to it, Apple has stated that Photos 1.1 can launch large libraries up to 40 percent faster than its predecessor. I’m on El Capitan’s public beta but cannot verify Apple’s claim as I haven yet to upgrade my huge photo library to Photos 1.1.

People who are planning on doing so should be advised that Photos libraries are not backwards compatible. So, if you upgrade your existing Photos library to Photos 1.1 in the developer or public beta of OS X El Capitan, it’ll no longer be openable in OS X Yosemite or earlier.

That being said, even if the 40 percent faster performance won’t placate folks with massive photo libraries, Photos in its current incarnation already reduces the burden on the CPU by allowing users to switch between multiple, smaller libraries.

Without further ado, here are five new features you’ll love about Photos 1.1.

Screen Shot 2015-07-13 at 17.16.31

As shown above, just hold the Aly key on the keyboard when clicking on the Photos icon in the Dock to choose between multiple libraries or create a new one. Keep in mind that iCloud Photo Library, iCloud Photo Sharing and My Photo Stream are only available in your main library, called System Photo Library.

Third-party image-editing filters and tools

As said previously, app makers can provide their own filters and editing tools in Photos 1.1 for Mac. While Photos for iOS has supported third-party extensions since iOS 8, running photo extensions in the context of Photos for Mac will be possible after OS X El Capitan launches.

App Extensions for Photos 1.1 can be delivered in two ways: as standalone downloads or bundled within an existing Mac App Store app (on iOS, a Photos extension must strictly be bundled with its containing App Store app). This is great news for developers that support both iOS and OS X as they can now provide the same set of photo filters and editing tools across iPhone, iPod touch, iPad and Mac devices, resulting in a more streamlined cross-platform photo experience.


Photos for Mac currently does not permit users to apply custom geographical location to photos nor does it support assigning a location to a photo if it lacks one. Photos 1.1 addressed this major customer pain point with the introduction of an Assign a Location feature available within the Inspector window.

Photos 1.1 for El Capitan geotaggin Jason Snell screenshot 001

You can either enter an address or a place name from Maps’ database to assign to a photo. Alternatively, click on the pin and drag it around to set any custom location you like.

Batch renaming

In the new Photos app, you can rename photos in bulk.

To do so, just select multiple photos, bring up the Inspector window (Command – I) and use a new Add a Title option. Type anything you like and all your selected photos will get renamed in one go.

It doesn’t appear you’re allowed to apply more complex renaming schemes to photos like you can in Yosemite’s Finder, which has a handy counter option designed to append unique numbers to file names (i.e. filename 00001.jpg, filename 00002.jpg, etc.)

Better Faces management

In addition to batch renaming, Photos 1.1 allows you to batch organize Faces. Currently, you can only drag one photo at a time onto a Face, but with Photos 1.1 you can drag multiple photos onto a Face to assign them to that person.

Improved album sorting

In Photos 1.1, albums are sortable by title or date, with either the oldest or newest albums on top. In Photos 1.0, you can only sort albums by date, with the oldest on top.

Sadly, there’s no option that would allow one to drag and drop albums in order to create a custom sorting scheme. For what it’s worth, Apple did mention that Photos 1.1 may gain additional sorting options before El Capitan hits this fall.

How do you like these new features coming to Photos 1.1 for Mac?

Source: Jason Snell

  • Boring.

    I was hoping to see “Lens Blur” amongst new features.

    • :D

      Seriously? Third-party integration unlocks so much more potential than just a lens blur feature, including the possibility of a lens blur feature itself.

  • Kroffy

    Wooh removing geotagging in the first place to add it back one version later ! Seriously, they should stop remove things just to please Mr & Mrs Smith and say “look it’s simplier because there are less buttons”. I migrated all my photos and had to use Lightrooom to add localization on them. It was a pain in the @ss !

    • They technically didn’t remove it because it is a complete rewrite. I suppose they didn’t think the feature is important enough to add in the first version.

    • Rich

      I agree, I was majorly P. O.’d with losing the manual geotagging ability, so I will be extremely happy to get it back. We should not have lost it in the first place. I issued several complaints to Apple, so other people must have done so as well. I’m happy that Apple has responded with a fix. Can’t wait to get the update.

  • Can’t stand the new photos app importing. It puts everything into a locked cabinet if you will. Then in order to get everything out you have to export as original. Meanwhile it doesn’t pull from the phone anymore, just from the cloud. So I had to shut all that off and just have it pull from my phone to get the original files because the ones on the cloud are stripped of the tags. Hopefully they fix this in the update. Importing before was so much easier and smoother not to mention I could do what I want with my original files.

    • Rich

      It will import from an iPhone if you plug it into the Mac.

      • Yep that’s what I do, but it’s nothing like it use to be. Now it puts everything into 1 locked folder if you will. From there I have to export everything out, it’s a horrible design. I shut off all cloud photo features now because of it. I want my photos on my mac the way it use to be, the new way isn’t user friendly.. Actually it’s for those who want easy easy easy and not customization which is what I need.

      • Rich

        I haven’t run into that because I don’t use the cloud for importing photos, only for sending from one device to another. You are right that Photos lacks customization.

      • nwveggie

        what is your flow for getting pix out of that locked folder?

  • Jose Gonzalez

    Well that explains why my Mac doesn’t download my pictures after I downgraded back to Yosemite. Oh well, at least I had a back up on a separate drive and my other iOS devices still download everything fine, even though I also downgraded them back to 8.4 from the betas.

  • Adam Keeler

    You know what it needs? The bulk deleting of photos after importing from your phone again. Really annoying that’s not there.

    • Rich

      It is there. When you import from the phone, there is a checbox under the import command, right side of the screen, that says something like “delete photos after importing?” Just check that box and it will delete the pictures from your phone after they are imported. I use the feature all the time.

      • Adam Keeler

        Ok, I would love if there was but I can’t seem to find it. Is there a setting for it? I took a screenshot of the photo’s app in the corner where you said the checkbox would be, it had it in iPhoto, which I loved but can’t seem to find it in Photos.

      • Rich

        let me look at the computer and get back to you.

      • Rich

        OK. This morning I plugged my iPhone 6 into my MacBook. When I did that, it opened the Photos app and all my photos from the phone showed up as thumbnails. Across the top, there were five items, photos, shared, albums, projects and imports. Below and to the right of those items, there is a choice “import all new photos” or “import selected”. To the left of “import selected” there is a checkbox that says “delete items after import”.
        I have photos set to automatically open when I connect my phone using a USB cable. Your phone and computer have to be set to recognize each other. Good luck.

      • Adam Keeler

        ok I’ll try it soon, if its there I thank you dear sir. That saves me sooo much stinking time! Let you know.

  • Greg Warren

    Faces management & location were a huge nuisance after the upgrade. I’m glad they’re coming back, but it’s simply inconceivable what led them to release without it.

    • willo

      Location yeah, Faces no. Tell Apple you want Faces in iCloud Photo Library. It´s taking forever if we have to wait for 10.12

  • How about drag-and-drop to other apps?

  • jabohn

    Not exactly sure about this sentence: “As shown above, just hold the Aly key on the keyboard when clicking on the Photos icon in the Dock to choose between multiple libraries or create a new one.”

    By “aly” do you mean ALT? And I think you mean to hold it down when you launch the app. If it’s already running then clicking the icon in the dock does nothing.

  • Rich

    These will be great improvements. My two biggest complaints about Photos was the inability to manually add a location to a photo and the inability to batch rename photos. Once these fixes come in, I’ll be very happy with Photos. It is already easier to use than iPhoto. I’m looking forward to the updates.

  • Rich

    I’m looking forward to this update. Photos works pretty well, but, when it came out I was really annoyed that I could no longer manually add a location to a photo or batch change names of photos. I have a lot of old pictures I want to scan, and I want to add locations. This will be a great improvement and I will no longer miss iPhoto. I will once again be happy with Apple.

  • Joshua DiRisio

    Brush Based Edits. Since they are letting aperture die, this is a MUST!

  • Poiks

    Did the “add a location” functionality make it to production? I can’t find it…

    • Poiks

      Oh, nevermind–I found it.