Auto Import your photos on a mac

I learned a new tip randomly the other day that is one of those really small tips but can help to save a few steps. When you shoot a lot, and have a stack of cards to download at the end of the day saving a few steps can add up to a lot of time savings in the long run.

When I used to download my cards I would create a folder within the client folder (I always name client folders Client Name and Date). All of the images would first be saved to a RAW folder until I went through and culled them to make my decisions on what would be black and white, color, etc… The other day I stumbled across the AutoImporter that is part of the Mac OS. It’s one of those little features that is built into the mac but not easy to get to and most people I am sure don’t even know its around. With this you can automatically download the images once you connect your card reader, saving a few clicks. Here is a quick guide on how to do this (Note: This is part of the Mac OS, sorry PC users)

First plug in your card reader to your computer and put in a card. Open up the Image Capture app on your mac (this is standard with all macs)
Select the card in the Devices section of Image Capture, then at the bottom of the left-hand column change the drop down selection to “AutoImporter”

Note: You can use this menu to specify which program runs when you connect a card (or a camera) to your computer. Other than the AutoImporter you can choose; Aperture, iPhoto, Image Capture or Preview.

It’s a good feature to automatically open a program when you connect your card reader but the AutoImporter is really where the time savings comes in. The AutoImporter will automatically download your images and can be customized a little bit to save them to a specific location.

To set the AutoImporter preferences, you just need to open the separate AutoImporter app. To find this is a little tricky, here is how to navigate to it. In the Finder, navigate into the top-level System folder, then drill down into Library -> Image Capture -> Support -> Application.

From here double click the AutoImporter application to launch it. Then select AutoImporter -> Preferences, and here you can setup your preferences. First, you can change the desination folder using the pop-up menu at the top of the box. Then you can create a new custom-named subfolder. To create your own custom name for each folder imported just drag and drop each of the label items that are in blue on the right into the filename field. You can add your own text also to create any type of custom naming structure. I setup my cards to download to a Import folder on my desktop and name each import with the date and a sequence. After I have everything from the shoot imported then I just drag these folders to the appropriate place to store them.

That’s it. Once you have your preferences set every time you connect this card to your computer it will automatically download all of the images to the folder you specified and name the subfolder accordingly.

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Author: Mark

Mark is a fine art wedding and portrait photographer from Northern California. He has been passionate about photography since childhood and started his studio 12 years ago to bring a fresh style of photography to the wedding and portrait world.

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1 Comment

  1. Hi – I set this up the way you describe here but no matter what I do it is importing all pictures from my camera every time – its over 2700 pictures and that’s not what I want – I want it to only import the new pictures it has not imported, otherwise I have to manually do it (and remember what I downloaded and what I have not) – any suggestions?


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