Automatically name imported photos

The filenames given to photos by the camera are often difficult to distinguish. When you import photos, you can have Aperture use the original name assigned by the camera or use a filenaming convention that you choose or create. For example, you can use a name format that includes a name that you specify, plus the date, the time, and an index number. Aperture provides a number of preset name formats, and you can also create your own naming conventions to suit the different types of shoots you do.

You can apply names to your image files when you import them and when you export them. You can specify names to apply to the versions and to the originals. For example, when you import photos from your camera, you can specify that a name format be applied to each image version that Aperture creates. You can also specify that Aperture apply names to the originals as they are stored in the library or on a hard disk.

When you import originals as referenced images, you can’t rename the originals if you leave them in their original locations. However, when you import originals as referenced images and move them to a new hard disk location, you can rename them at that time.

Note: If you back up your files on import, the copied files are also renamed. For more information, see Automatically back up files at import.

Proper filenaming is one of the most critical aspects of media and project management. When you capture your originals, consider how and where your files may be used in the future. Naming your files simply and consistently makes it easier to share media among multiple photographers, transfer projects to other Aperture systems, move files across a network, and properly restore archived projects.

The most conservative filenaming conventions provide the most cross-platform compatibility. This means that your filenames will work in different operating systems, such as OS X and other UNIX-based operating systems, and Windows. You also need to consider filenaming when you transfer files over the Internet, where you can never be certain what computer platform your files may be stored on, even if temporarily.


Example characters


File separators

/ (slash)


Some applications may not allow filenames with slashes, which are directory separators for OS X and DOS (Windows), respectively.

Special characters not included in your native alphabet


These characters may not be supported or may be difficult to work with when exported to other applications.

Punctuation marks, parentheses, quotation marks, brackets, and operators

. , [ ] { } ( ) ! ; “ ` * ? < > |

These characters are often used in scripting and programming languages.

White space characters such as spaces, tabs, new lines, and carriage returns (the last two are uncommon)

White space is handled differently in different programming languages and operating systems. The most conservative filenames avoid all use of white space characters and use the underscore (_) character instead.

Name files during import automatically

  1. In the Import browser, choose Rename Files from the Import Settings pop-up menu.

    The Rename Files controls appear in the Import browser.

    Figure. Rename Files controls in the Import browser.
  2. Do one of the following:

    • To apply a preset name format to your files as they are imported: Choose a preset name format from the Version Name pop-up menu.

    • To use the existing filenames: Choose None from the Version Name pop-up menu.

    • To create a new name format: Choose Edit from the Version Name pop-up menu, and create a custom name format in the File Naming dialog.

  3. If you choose a name format with a custom name, the Name Text field appears below the Version Name pop-up menu. Enter a name for the photos in the Name Text field.

  4. Select the Rename Original File checkbox if you want to change the filenames of the originals on disk to match the version names.

    Aperture provides the following preset name formats in the Version Name pop-up menu by default.

    Preset name format


    Custom Name with Index

    Thailand 1, Thailand 2, and so on

    Custom Name with Index (no spaces)

    Thailand1, Thailand2, and so on

    Version Name


    Version Name and Date/Time

    IMG001 - 2008-10-14 09.03.25 PM

    Version Name with Sequence

    IMG001 (1 of 2), IMG002 (2 of 2), and so on

    Version Name with Index

    IMG001 1, IMG002 2, and so on

    Image Date/Time

    2008-10-14 09.03.25 PM

    Custom Name with Counter

    Thailand 001, Thailand 002, and so on

Create a custom name format

In addition to the preset name formats, you can create custom name formats. To create a name format, you select the name elements you want in the File Naming dialog.

  1. In the Import browser, choose Rename Files from the Import Settings pop-up menu, then choose Edit from the Version Name pop-up menu.

    The File Naming dialog appears.

    Figure. File Naming dialog.
  2. Click the Add button (+) to create a new name format, or select the preset name format you want to change.

  3. Drag the name elements you want into the Format field in the order you want them. You can also add valid characters or spaces between the name elements.

  4. Enter a custom name in the Custom Name field, if you like.

  5. Click OK.

Your new name format now appears in the Version Name pop-up menu.

Reset the starting number of a counter in a name format

When using a counter in your name format, you can specify the starting number and the number of digits, from one to six, that appear in the counter. When you use a preset name format with a counter, make sure to reset the initial starting number, if necessary. Otherwise, on the next import, Aperture will continue numbering the imported files starting from the last number of the previous import.

Do one of the following:

  • In the File Naming dialog, type “0” (zero) in the “Incrementing counter starting at” field.

  • In the File Naming dialog, select the preset whose counter you want to reset to zero, then click the Reset Preset button.