Guest Photographers

Smooth transition from Aperture to Capture One Pro 9

I was one of those Aperture users who was set adrift by Apple. And not only did I have to find a new home for my photo library, I had to figure out how to help others do the same.

After all, I’ve led so many to Aperture in years past. I was the founder of the InsideAperture website for O’Reilly Media. I authored numerous Aperture trainings for And I even had an entire section of my website,, dedicated to the application.


So when everything went boom, I felt obligated to find a suitable alternative for serious photographers. My research and testing led me to Capture One.

If you’re reading this, you probably don’t need me to sell you on Capture One Pro 9. But I do want to say that I’m thankful for a legitimate alternative to Lightroom. I’m not knocking Adobe’s photo management app. But it’s not for everyone. Myself included.

Once I made the decision to start 2016 with Capture One Pro 9, there was the sticky business of figuring out how much of my Aperture library I’m willing to migrate to Capture One.

How to import into Capture One Pro 9

There’s an excellent import tool in Capture One Pro 9 that makes it easy to bring master files, metadata, and even some image edits over from Aperture. It’s the best Aperture import tool that I’ve seen. But it’s still not perfect.

This is why a test library is important. Nearly every email I receive from a photographer in distress during migration is because he was attempting to bring over his entire library or catalog in one pass, and something went wrong.

Something always goes wrong. It’s the nature of mapping one system to another.

By creating a test library that mirrors the characteristics of your Aperture library, but on a much smaller scale, you can make note of the bumps in the road, then try smooth them out.


You can work quickly from one iteration to another because the import of a small library takes virtually no time. And you can modify your test library based on the findings from the previous attempts.

Once you’ve refined the transition procedure, then all that’s left is to decide how much of your Aperture or Lightroom catalog to bring over.

I thought about this a lot in 2015. My decision was to bring over specific projects that were still in progress, my 4 star images, and some shots that had personal meaning. Everything else is staying in Aperture, at least for now.

Even though Apple has discontinued improvement of the app, it still runs just fine on Mac OS X El Capitan. So if I need an image from 2014, I open Aperture, find it, and export to my desktop.

When Aperture is no longer supported by the OS, then I’ll have some new decisions to make. Most likely, I’ll freeze a computer at El Capitan, and keep it as an archive machine.

Speaking of which, I do recommend keeping copies of both Aperture 3.4 and Mac OS X El Capitan on a backup drive. Up the road you may need to restore failed hardware.


How to set up the test library

If this approach sounds reasonable to you, then I suggest you download my free eBook from Rocky Nook publishing, Rocky Nook’s Guide to Moving to Capture One Pro. It’s written for both Aperture and Lightroom users, with specific sections for each. I describe in detail how to set up your test library, then provide tips for making the transition.

Download free e-book

When you’re ready to dig in to actually navigate the application for organizing, editing, and output, you’re ready for the book, Capture One Pro 9, Mastering Raw Development, Image Processing, and Asset Management by Sascha Erni. Right now you can get a 35% off the ebook, paperback, and bundled versions of the product. All you need to do is visit the Rocky Nook website, add the product to the cart, go to checkout, and apply coupon code CPRO935.

Claim discount now

And finally, have you attended any of the free webinars offered by the Capture One crew? If not, they’re really good, and very helpful. Sign up here.

Sign up for the webinars

Now that I’m using Capture One Pro for all of my work moving forward, I’m happy with the choice I made. This is an excellent application. And if Apple hadn’t discontinued Aperture, I may have never given Capture One Pro 9 the chance it deserves.

Download free 30-day trial

Derrick Story
Derrick Story

Derrick is a professional photographer based in Northern California. He runs a popular enthusiast web site and weekly podcast at You can also follow his journal at and see his video trainings at His favorite book publisher is Rocky Nook, where he’s currently finishing a title for them and contributes to their blog at

Comments (23)

Re your statement “I do recommend keeping copies of both Aperture 3.4 and Mac OS X El Capitan on a backup drive. Up the road you may need to restore failed hardware.”
I’d like to have those options available should I down the road decide to get another computer to freeze the OS and be able to use Aperture. Since I got latest Aperture updates thru App Store, is there any way to get hold of the dmg files? Or another route you’d suggest?

My approach is to freeze the older computer in time and use a new purchase for moving forward. I also recommend using Apple’s Time Machine to backup everything valuable, including Aperture, on your archive machine. There are copies of Aperture available via Bit Torrent, but I have not tested, nor tried, this approach.

Colin Smith

If you have already bought Capture One 9 (I have) you can’t access the free e book without downloading it again.


David Grover

Hi Colin,

That’s definitely not the case! The free e-book is on Rocky Nook’s site and not related to any Capture One purchase or download.


Steven Seelig

I was stuck with the same dilemma of losing Aperture. I evaluated both Lightroom and Capture One Pro 9. There were two major considerations: how the the alternative ported over the Aperture Library and adjustments and how did the alternative perform as a go forward basis. Neither Lightroom or Capture One Pro 9 offer much of a solution for Aperture images, but the fact that Capture One would not see .psd or .tiff files on transfer from Aperture was a serious deficiency. It may have been fixed at this point. But for legacy issues, Lightroom is not a great solution either.

I agree that the PSD files are an issue. Maybe someday that licensing will be resolved. As for the Tiff files (especially from scanners), I think C1 has made some headway with that. You may want to check the release notes for the latest versions.


I do a lot of volume work so the lack of PSD support threw me for a loop initially. I knew, despite my best efforts, I wasn’t going to convince myself to personally enjoy Lr so I decided to stick it out. Photography is about compromises and, while this is a big one, I figured there had to be a way to make this compromise work. I dived into TIFF and C1 improved greatly on its sometimes quirky TIFF support in v. 9. While I didn’t realize it at the time, moving to TIFF also set me free. Leaving PSD behind doesn’t solve my old work but a lot of this conversation is about moving forward. I will likely always have a Ps subscription for the graphics side of what I do. But I know longer need the current version and there are a lot of other great tools that work cleanly with TIFF. As C1 gets more powerful and solves more processing requirements, I feel less inclined to reach for the comfortable but old Ps part of the workflow. It’s actually speeding up my volume work. Now if only Phase One could give me a better print module… 😉

Tom Finley

Thanks for all your efforts and vision to help us Aperture users.
I now have Capture One 9 on my new MacBook Pro and am testing it there as you advised. Also have taken your class on, viewed the conversion tutorial, and bought Sascha Erni’s book. Here are some questions regarding setting up my archival iMac AND being able to have Capture One 9 on it at the same time:
Can one update from OS 10.8.5 to El Capitan without Photos hijacking iPhoto and Aperture 3.4.5/3.6 ?? I would like to have use of El Captian with its OS longevity, without worrying about inadvertently activating a Photos conversion pop-up and then having it dumb down my whole Aperture Library. to Photos. Is it possible to trash or isolate Photos after upgrading to El Capitan? (I know I can upgrade from the App Store to Aperture 3.6 because I purchased 3.4.5. there.) Is there sequencing to consider: download El Captian 1st, then update Aperture 3.4.5 with the last 3.6?
How does the “slideshow” feature in Capture One 9 compare to Aperture’s? Would be able to integrate music from iTunes even be an option without moving the slideshow project out of Capture One first? If not,what thoughts on additional software needed,workflow, or or procedures to continue producing a slide show with music would you consider? Moving it back to my archived Aperture would be a possibility, but is there anything better than that?
Looking forward to the webinar next week.

RobbiNewman Light&Vision

Hi Rick

Totally agree with your assessment and direction.
I set up many major corporations with Aperture to handle vast libraries and was totally upset when Apple dropped it. I can see why they did as I am sure the spreadsheet accounts department ordered it, based a purely numbers criteria. i petitioned Apple but had no reply from anyone after they sent us the ‘Dear John’ letter.
I also use Lightroom because clients like it…but I don’t..despite the fact it has some very powerful edit tools but the interface and workflow and UI is ghastly IMO.
yep, I discovered Capture and its obviously a pro app.
I still use Aperture as a primary tool as its so fast and I know it backwards but know one day it will go buggy and fail.
I am surprised Apple didn’t farm out Aperture or sell it…tho they don’t need the cash 🙂 I do feel betrayed and Apple has lost its soul. Thats the way life goes when money is involved i guess.
Look forward to your posts on Capture.
I wish they would merge Capture and Media into one app tho

Lewis Levin

How big is your catalog?


I so wanted to like C1. I really didn’t want to use Lightroom. After testing both, I had to go with Lightroom because it was the only one of the two that did roundtripping with Google’s Nik Collection (or PhaseOne’s stuff) well and without errors. Now it’s to the point I don’t even want to work on things anymore and images are sitting on my camera because I don’t want to load them into Lightroom. I just don’t feel them in there.

Have you tried using extra tools in your workflow from C1 and back and not had any trouble?


Not PhaseOne, I meant On1.

David Grover

Hi Sarah,

What are you using in Nik Collection. There isn’t anything in Nik that can’t be accomplished with Capture One’s own tools.


kevin kennedy

David As much as I appreciate your expertise with Capture One ( I watch your webinars ) I think this is a bold statement . I have used Nik modules a lot , mostly Define 2 & Color Efex Pro. 4 . I agree that C1 has comparable noise reduction to Define but I’m not sure about some of the functions of Color Efex Pro 4. I’d love to see a webinar about how C1 recreates things like Detail Extractor, White Neutraliser , Pro Contrast , Reflector Efex etc . Also ( not that I want them that much ) but what about the functions in Analog Efex Pro 2 & HDR Efex Pro 2?

Regards, Kevin

I’m equally disappointed Nik does not work in C1 Pro without errors. C1 has my money now, but may have to go back to LR for the next software upgrade cycle.

kevin kennedy

Thanks Derrick . A very helpful article – unlike some others I dismissed Lightroom as I use Fuji RAW ! and like Robbi above I don’t like it. I am still using Aperture 3.6 as you say with El Capitan so I can still use my Plug ins ( Nik , Viewpoint 2 etc ) . What I’ve noticed is my RAF files are now called DSCF ! I am using C1 for new files but haven’t yet trans feared my older ones fromAperture.


One of the things I love in Aperture is the keyword HUD. Is there anything similar in Capture One 9? And can the keyword hierarchy be imported, or does it have to be entered manually into Capture One?

Aperture had good way to add keywords, I personally think C1 lack in organizing photo libraries. That is my personal main reason why I have not yet bought C1.

I don’t like Lightroom, I will use Aperture until C1 gets better in organizing photos, easier keyword tagging,..

But for now, I just wait and edit as little as possible. I’m amateur so I have time to wait software to meat my needs. (and aperture is working with my old computer, now I cannot upgrade computer, Saving lot of money and more time to go to photo trips 😉 )

Steve Kaye

Your guide on converting to C1 is very helpful.

I heard that Aperture may not run on the next Mac OS. So I made copies of my Aperture libraries that I’ll save until I’ve finished a complete migration to C1.

I’m one of those who take a function for granted once it’s built into a software. Such as the “Import Aperture Library”-Function in Capture One Pro 9. I do indeed expect issues during migration that I then have to deal with in iterations. What I don’t expect is what I describe here in various chapters:

Chapter #1
I’m one of those Apple users that have been abandoned by Apple Thanks to the fact that they killed Aperture. Having used Aperture for years, my library grew close to 1 TB. I have now two options:
1) Put a freeze on my beefed up MacMini (plenty of RAM, SSD and Thunderbolt RAID) and stay with El Capitan or
2) Migrate to another App such as Capture One Pro 9 or Lightroom
Lightroom is no option as not a single line of Adobe code will ever spoil my machine.
Thus, I accepted the offer and took Capture One Pro 9 (9.2.1) for the test.
Upfront statement: I’m sorry to say that Capture One Pro 9 is not even close to an alternative to Aperture as it miserably fails already in the beginning during the migration process. The end right at the beginning.
I did a complete rebuild of my Aperture Library using the built in repair functions in order to weed out any potential integrity problems prior to the import.

1st attempt:
My first attempt was to simply use the import function of COP9 and import the Aperture Library in one chunk. It started OK and I let it do the job overnight. When checking in the morning, I found the crash-window with the crash report. COP9 has simply given up on the task by throwing the towel. Since the COP9 catalogue was definitively damaged, I trashed it and started from sratch.

2nd attempt:
I’ve checked with customer service of PhaseOne and found a very nice and competent support engineer who advised me to split the Aperture Library in 2 chunks which I did. Unluckily to no avail as COP9 crashed again on the first chunk already. Since the COP9 catalogue was definitively damaged, I trashed it and started from sratch.

3rd attempt:
Splitting the Aperture Library in 6 similarily sized chunks. Importing of part #1-#3 went seamless. And I was excited about the visual interpretation of my Nikon NEFs. However, import of part #4 caused the app to freeze. Beachball galore. I had to force quit COP9, did a restart of my Mac and tried to reopen the COP9 catalogue. That caused the beachball session to get to new heights. After 10 Minutes I’ve checked the processes and found that COP9 had again crashed and was happily counting up system errors. Result: Trashing the COP9 catalogue halfway through the migration although it passed the COP9 integrity test.

4th attempt:
Same thing from start. Part #1-#2 imported fine. Part #3 over night again to find out in the morning that COP9 had crashed again resulting in an unusable catalogue. (althought it again passed the integrity test!). Trashing the COP9 catalogue halfway through the migration although it passed the COP9 integrity test.

5th attempt:
I found out today that there’s a 9.3 version available. Downloaded the test version and tried to open the catalogue from my 4th attempt to no avail. Getting funny messages that the catalogue needs repair and when clicking “repair” in the dialgue, I got the message that the app cannot connect to the catalogue db . Well. Trash the catalogue again.

6th attempt:
Starting from scratch again. The good thing is that the trial period for 9.3. starts from scratch, too. Another 30 days to try migrating. That’s the positive. Importing right now part #1. From COP9 support, I got advised to uncheck building thumbnails during import which would speed import up. Unluckily, I cannot find where to uncheck. Thus, it creates thumbnails during import which takes ages.

It is very hard for me now to put faith back into the app. Particularly when it constantly crashes and kills integrity of the catalobue beyond repair. That means that work is likely to get lost frequently and I have to roll back to an older version of the catalogue.
My MacMini is a powerhouse and does nothing but Media. Thus, no fancy installations that could interfere with COP9.
I’m almost certain that COP9 is an awesome app. But you’re missing the chance to get those sad Aperture users over to your app by making the migration process a miserable one.

Chapter #2
With all respect: Capture One Pro 9 is useless for people who are trying to move their Aperture treasures securely to a new platform.
This is the result of my 6th attempt after importing Part #2 of my Aperture Library. It looks like migrating requires moving pictures one by one.

Chapter #3
What I can see in COP9 is that the RAW-Representation is simply brilliant! I’ve never seen my pics like that. Awesome! If only my migration from Aperture would work. Now, I found out that there is no actual import of the Aperture Library. Only the metadata is imported and the original pics are NOT copied into the COP9 library. That means that I’ll have to keep those huge Aperture libraries where they are in order to not loose the reference. Is there a way to do a REAL import (metadata plus original pics)?

Chapter #4
I give up.
COP9 is anything but a solution for existing Aperture users.
It seems as if even Apple Fotos is more stable than COP9.
After putting ALL precautions in place in getting my first 3 chunks of my Aperture Library into COP9 and even waiting until all thumbnails had been built, I quit the app, switched off the computer in order to restart today. However: When I launched the app, the catalogue would not even open after 10 minutes. I had lunch just to find out after returning that the app had crashed again, trying to open the catalogue. I restarted the app to try it again just to get yet another error message. Here’s the link to the screenshots:
I had to share via DropBox because the multiple file upload button in your support system is defunct.
My recommendation to existing Aperture Users would be to buy a MacMini, freeze El Capitan and don’t waste time trying to move to any other platform…

Not quite sure you are so opposed to LR, but over the past year, I have successfully migrated about 350,000 image from Aperture to Lightroom. All the images are referenced and when I do a LR import, I leave them in place so until Aperture dies, both applications are able to see the pictures. I have now been using LR exclusively for about 11 months and to be honest, it is vastly superior to Aperture. I tried COP9. The one thing that killed it for me was it could not import .tiff files. The other was it was easier to find answers to questions about LR than COP9. Good luck

I’ve got about 250GB in a managed format on Aperture. I bought Capture One and would like to convert to a referenced format, because of limited space on a 500GB SSD.

C1 has an wonderful tool for converting managed Aperture to managed C1, but that doesn’t solve the ultimate goal of getting to referenced images. I’d like to keep my naming structure with country, date, and serial number like CN1607_394.NEF (and not end up with meaningless names like DSC_4028.NEF). After a bit of experimenting it appears that means first moving Aperture managed to Aperture referenced, album by album, and then importing to C1 referenced.

Can you point to a procedure for moving Aperture managed to C1 Referenced, keeping the same file naming convention?

procrastinating to give up on Aperture for years. With a new computer it now only runs on a virtual system of my old one (ar Parallels). It has inconsistencies in the library every other day and it does not show the photos in full view any more (though they can be edited, blindly) and has other issues as well.
Aperture references about 4 TBytes of photos from 12 years which live on an exertanal RAID disk. The library itself comes up to about 600 GByte.
Does any one have experience with importing a library that size in a reasonable time in to Capture One? Most edits have not been done with Aperture but with Nik software, no keywords have been used, just stars for rating.
Everything like making an extra backup of the library or exporting parts of the library literally takes ages. If I do it like recommended in the ebook with like 10 to 15 pics a time it will take the best part of the rest of my life and might be easier to set up a new library with the old structure right from the beginning.
Grateful about any substantial advice.