New User - Questions/Best Practices for Photo Organization on Disk

For years I used iPhoto to organize my research photos, but as that application was EOL with Catalina and the new Photos app doesn’t seem to like my old iPhoto library I’m looking to use Tropy as a non-sandboxed option that should be more future-proof.

Now, I understand how the native Mac apps organize photos and the need to export from the native app. My main questions here revolve around how Tropy handles photos. The native Mac apps copy all the photos to one location/library.

Does Tropy use similar behavior? My limited testing suggests that it does not. If this is in fact the case, what is the best practice for organizing photos on a hard drive? (I have a NAS so space isn’t an issue. By the way, are there any issues with storing files on a NAS?) If I export everything to a single folder and organize within that, does the Tropy project file simply point to that folder? In other words, does Tropy create it’s own file structure or use a user-generated one?

I’ve got ~50GB worth of photos (all my dissertation research) so I want to make sure I understand how this works before getting started, as I’m working with an old, slow machine so I expect the process to be slow and tedious and I only want to do it once.

Also, is there support for IPTC metadata and if not is that an add that’s in the works/on the table?

Thanks in advance.

Tropy projects currently do not alter, move, or copy your original photos at all so you can organize the photos in any way you want: you could keep all your photos in a single folder, or in some kind of folder structure underneath that single root folder, or even scattered across different locations (it’s also not necessarily a big problem, if some of these locations are not available all the time, e.g., external or network drives, though you can only view photos in the item view when Tropy has access to them). One important limitation is that the paths to the photos must be stable (i.e., if you use an external drive it’s important that the path is always the same when you connect it) – otherwise you’ll have to consolidate the photos all the time (consolidating basically means fixing the paths to the originals) – though there is some experimental support for more portable projects (and this is an area of Tropy that will see improvement this year).

That said, in most cases, it helps if your photos are all in a single place (this will make moving the photos or transferring the project to a different device much easier). We’ll be adding a second project type in the future which copies all the photos to a stable location on import (similar to Apple Photos) – we don’t currently do that, because there are many projects like yours with gigabytes worth of photos that are often already organized on disk and should not be duplicate lightly.

Tropy can access photos across the network as long as they are accessible over the file system or via HTTP (if you import via HTTP Tropy will create full-size copies locally in a cache).

Tropy can import IPTC metadata embedded in the XMP header of photos: for this to work you need to create a template with all the properties which you wish to import (Tropy includes all the standard vocabularies used by IPTC by default) and set this template as the default prior to importing the photos.

Awesome. Thank you very much for the information and clarification. This covers everything I need for the moment.