Syncing photos with Aperture and the iPad

When trying to sync photos from my Apple Aperture library to my new iPad, I found iTunes thought most Aperture projects were empty and thought I would give you my lesson learned (and I suspect this is true for the iPhone and iPod Touch as well).

the short answer: Update/generate Aperture previews!

The iPad has the ability to sync photos with both iPhoto and Aperture on the mac. Cool I thought! Ok, it is cool, but you have to realize that the sync only works with PREVIEW files from Aperture. If you don’t have Aperture set up to build preview files, then when you select the projects in the iTunes sync, you’ll see zero next to the project name… meaning there aren’t any photos to sync. But yet you know there are photos in the project! Well, that may be because you haven’t asked Aperture to build previews for your project.

Notice the counts for the project "iPhone files" don't match

So, how do I fix this?

First, update your preferences in Aperture:

Aperture previews preference pane

2) If you didn’t have the setting turned on to generate the previews (and I suspect you probably wouldn’t be reading this if you did have previews), you’ll need to go into Aperture and ask it to generate previews for the projects you want to import to your iPad. Note that since the iPad resolution is 1024×768, there isn’t much need to generate the huge previews, so go with the smaller options.

So there ya go – if you’re not getting the photos you thought you should, check the previews.


(Photo credit: Mitch Aunger)

12 thoughts on “Syncing photos with Aperture and the iPad

  1. the resolution of the ipad is 1024×768 – 132dpi but it also has a double zoom setting, so if you size your images to this native reso then zoom will look bad, the problem with itunes import is it crunchs files to much which somewhat destroys them

  2. On my iPad only the master files end up, but not the versions I created. That is too bad, since I have had a lot of work making all these nice versions and now I only get to see the less great originals. Any ideas on how to fix this?

  3. Type your comment here… I’m no sure but i Think that only is required TIME, while appear “Processing” Aperture don´t sync with Itunes, If you have copied a lot of picture or big size image you need don´t off aperture. I after 5 hour “processing” begin appear pictures. Excuseme for my English. …

  4. The only problem with this approach (importing your photos via iTunes) is that you still can’t do much with the photos once on the iPad. That is the reason I started developing my own solution, Tagalicious ( You can wirelessly import your photos to your iPad and the bonus is that you can rate your photos and sync the ratings back to Aperture (wirelessly). I think there is a market for this and that I am not the only one who sees the potential of the iPad for photographers.

  5. This is only part of the solution as far as I know. The past few months, I have been developing Tagalicious, an iPad app to wirelessly import images from Aperture to your iPad. While I was testing I had similar problems and the problem is not always a lack of previews. My application (and iTunes does the same thing, I think) uses an XML file that contains contains a lot of information about your Aperture library. This database is used by iTunes (and Tagalicious), but the issue is that this database is not updated constantly. In other words, the information in that database does not always reflect what Aperture is showing you. One solution is to quit and relaunch Aperture as the database (XML file) is updated.

    Another reason is indeed the absence of previews. I have noticed that preview generation is much, much faster if you leave your images where they are and not inside the Aperture library. This is the best approach to work with Aperture anyway, in my opinion.

  6. Hey man cool outlined tutorial there; it is always better to sync all of the pics from my mac to the other apple device (such as iphone/ipad) so I don’t have to rename or change settings again. Works very well for my travel pics LOL that’s the only type of pictures I have in my pad.

  7. You’re awesome. Finally, I solved this problem. I couldn’t be happier.

    Now I can show all my photos to my friends and family. Thank you.

  8. I still have the same problem…. At first I could seen no pictures at all in the iTunes sync menu. I regenerated the previews for the last project, ant that was eventually shown: initially about 90% of the images, after a few restarts I saw all of them. I then tried regenerating previews for all projects but nothing will get iTunes to show or sync the content of the Aperture library.

    The main reason I bought the iPad is for sharing photos…. this is very very frustrating… any help is appreciated.


  9. just found the solution in another forum….
    relaunching does not solve is but relaunching while holding option+cmd gives you the option to choose ‘repair database’. That does not take very long and solves the issue.


  10. How about the other way around. When on vacation I download photos from my camera in raw and jpeg to my iPad directly. Can I then import them into aperture without loss of resolution?

Leave a Reply