Mac : Aperture 3 speed increase

Since the upgrade from Aperture 2 to 3, I was struggling with a slow and often hanging system. The moment Aperture was turned on, it was as if the entire system would go into a momentarily lapse and then sort of freeze.

I tried many things. The first was – as recommended by most website – to turn off the faces feature by removing the check from Aperture -> Preferences -> General – Enable Faces . While that stopped it from searching through my entire photo collection for faces, it still didn’t resolve the issue of overall system slowness.

More searches lead me to various other discussions and after trying several things, this is what has finally made Aperture work happily on my Macbook Pro :

I deleted all the files in :

Hard Drive/Library/Caches
Hard Drive/System/Library/Caches
Hard Drive/Users/(Your user)/Library/Caches

The  I also deleted  this file:
Hard Drive/Users/(Your user)/Library/Preferences/

After this, I emptied Trash. Some files would not empty from trash because they were in use. I continued deleting till all other files were deleted. Then, in the Finder menu, I used  the Secure Empty Trash option to delete the pending files from Trash.

When I restarted Aperture, all my settings were set to default.  I created a new Library and re-imported all my pictures. Thats it, Aperture has been behaving since then !


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  2. newbie

    Thank you! I didn't re-create the dB though and it worked just as well!

  3. Kim Henneberg

    Thanks a lot for this perfect advice Anil. It solved the speed issue for me too.

    Actually I didn't re-create my library. I removed the files in the caches as advised by you and bang…the speed was back.

    Thanks again!!!


  4. You're welcome !

    I recreate the database because after the upgrade from Aperture 2 to 3, I found random discrepancies in the database, for example it wouldn't show some of the folders in the list. I keep all my photos in a folder outside of Aperture and just make aperture display it. Recreating the database ensured that everything was back as normal.

    Now, I'm looking for a good list of Aperture 3 plugins and can't find one on the net , anyone knows, pls inform !

  5. Bill P

    I tried your advice and now I can't find any of my photos! Aperture opens up like it is brand new with nothing in it. What can I do?

  6. Nothing to worry about ! You need to import the library into Aperture. In the File Menu, there are two options. Either use “Switch To” and choose the location of your Aperture Library or use “Import” and select your library. When Aperture 3 imports your library, it goes through all the folders which actually ensures a proper library structure.

    • Emily

      Thank you for writing this. I almost had a panic attack and then read this…and now I am happy and have all of my photos back!! :)

  7. Hayleyd1


    I came across this, whilst in a panic with a very slow running aperture 3, and trying to work through over 1600 raw files! if i delete the files as mentioned:
    Hard Drive/Library/Caches
    Hard Drive/System/Library/Caches
    Hard Drive/Users/(Your user)/Library/Caches
    will this mean I will have to reimport my libraries. i'm worried as the images contain all the changes ive made to client photos, and not sure if it will reimport the masters only, or reimport with the changes that have been made. Any help, much appreciated.. thanks

  8. If you don't delete this file – Hard Drive/Users/(Your user)/Library/Preferences/ – your library will remain intact.

    Just emptying these three folders will improve the speed :
    Hard Drive/Library/Caches
    Hard Drive/System/Library/Caches
    Hard Drive/Users/(Your user)/Library/Caches

  9. Canadian PhotoGuy

    Thank you! This worked brilliantly! I was getting to the point of switching to Lightroom!

    I deleted all the caches as described, but my twist on this is when it came to “Hard Drive/Users/(Your user)/Library/Caches”, I just deleted the “” cache. For safety sake in case something went wrong, rather than delete the files first, I moved them to a folder inthe desktop — giving me the option of going back.

    Whole new app!

  10. You're welcome. I've also found another reason why Aperture 3 goes slow is due to the volume of memory it consumes and the available memory. If I have all my applications open and run Aperture 3 on my Macbook pro that has only 2 GB Ram, there are times when the system runs out of memory. I've hoping to do another post illustrating that and looking at ways to resolve the issue

  11. Thomas

    Dear All.

    I liked this piece of information here and found it most useful. Sometimes these libraries get out of hand and I have not yet encountered a major issue by just deleting all of them. So I followed the instructions to the point. But my Aperture 3.0 keeps working and blocking my computer. It is as if it is continuously calculating something. My iPhoto library is about 200 gigs in size. Unfortunately this bloody iPhoto saves the whole thing in one file which makes it extremely clumsy to handle. Importing it into Aperture 3.0 takes about two days. And this continuous working of Aperture even after importing the library from iPhoto is on for another two days now. Closing Aperture requires an extended saving exercise of some 20 minutes. It is unacceptable. I use an iMac with 2.66GHz and 4 Gigs Ram and a 1 TB hard drive. I have had it with this software, I guess. Or I get rich and buy the quadruple whatsoever Mac. Do you have any idea left?

  12. Snocone417

    Thank God I found your webpage! I was about to throw my computer out the window, I am on deadline and my Aperture decided to take minutes loading each change on each picture.
    Thanks for the tip!!!

  13. methuselah

    Dear Thomas,
    You can split your iPhoto into as many separate themed iPhotos you like by installing iPhoto Manager (Google it) It is a superb trouble free app.

  14. Jodi

    Do you empty ALL the files in the cache folders?

  15. Jonathan

    Dude, this is horrible advice, with regard to the part about reinstalling the library. First of all, it’s likely that’s not what’s slowing things down. Second, you lose a lot of organization that has to be recreated. Anybody foolish enough to take your advice word-for-word is liable to be very unhappy when they find a lot of their hard work organizing their photos is gone.

  16. JP

    I installed Aperture 3 when it came out and within a week or so I uninstalled it. Luckily I kept my old library. Aperture 3 is a disgrace of an application, as was Aperture 1: both absurdly slow and sloppily programmed. Aperture 1′s problem was thrashing the disk updating its sqlite database, where deleting 20 photos took 5 minutes. Aperture 3′s problem is that it uses up all your available memory (unless you have 8G RAM apparently), and once a single application is that abusive your whole computer starts to fail (spinning ball of death).

    There is no way an application that displays 10s or even 100s of thumbnails at a time, and possibly 5 or 10 “full size” photos at once, should require 4Gb of RAM or anything close to it. But the sloppy engineers at Apple (or maybe just lazy) just didn’t really think about that.

    I keep hoping they’ve fixed it but I see no indication they have online. I have a piece of advice for them: on-demand loading, compressed data structures, preloading a limited set of photos, and aggressive unloading as well. 4GB of RAM. Can you imagine? I only have 15k photos for God’s sake.

    I am surprised clearing the caches had any effect. Those are just files on the disk and Aperture 3′s problem is its memory footprint, which is about 3 to 5x what Aperture 2′s was.

  17. Peter

    I cleared the library aperture cache and aperture went from basically unusable to being snappy! I’m amazed. Thank you.

  18. Ed

    Amazing! I deleted the files you suggested and Aperture 3 is fast now. Miracle! I almost purchased more RAM just for Aperture.

  19. Niko

    I followed the instructions and it worked wonders for a bit – but then it was back to doing the same thing.

    The one thing I could not find though was

    Hard Drive/Users/(Your user)/Library/Preferences/

    My Users folder does not have a Library folder.

    I am using a Macbook Pro 15″ – 2.2 with Mac OS X Lion

    Any thoughts on this?

    • Hi Niko

      This post was written before Ma OS X Lion was released. In Lion, the /Users/Your Username/Library folder itself is hidden. YOu can access this folder the following way -

      In Finder, click on ‘Go’ while keeping the ‘Option’ key pressed. This will display the hidden ‘Library’ link.

      Hope it works for you!

      • Jennifer

        Thank you!! I had stopped using Aperture 3 and couldn’t bear the thought of ever opening it again until I found your clear instructions. It’s much better and I can now go back to using it!! Thanks for the steps and additional helpful info.

  20. Waldemar Smith

    I applied your procedure but Aperture is still slow, slow, slow and it messes with other programs I’m running. I’m using a 4 year old MacBook with 2 GB of RAM. Do you think I need to add RAM to get this program to work fast?

    • You should use Activity Monitor to see if RAM is peaking out when Aperture runs, if that’s the case, you need more RAM. You should also try resetting the PRAM

  21. Dave Baird

    Hi Folks

    Just like to say that I was in a living nightmare with Aperture. It was taking 5 minutes to open, 10 to close-down, minutes to scroll through photos and add adjustment. At the same time neatly every other running app, along with the dock and all was totally unresponsive.

    I had bought from the AppStore and today I noticed there was update 3.2.1 (dated 27/10/11), so I installed.

    Good grief, what a difference. It opens instantly, it closes instantly, I scroll through photos quickly. OK, time may tell another story, but at this moment it’s revitalized!

  22. Cliff

    My Aperture 3 is my first go with this software. I use a 2007 aluminum iMac w. 2 Gig of RAM. Initially the program was reasonably fast but now I’m running into similar problems to your readers, although it still opens and closes quickly. One difference for me is that I keep my library and my back files on on a 1TB external file. If I follow your instructions is there anything I need to do differently? Do I still delete the same caches?
    Thanks for your help.

  23. Donna

    I have all my photos in Aperture as referenced files so all the originals are stored separately but completely organized and visible in Aperture. I followed the advice as described and now all of my Aperture libraries are empty. No referenced files, no information, nothing. Even when I control + click on the libraries in the finder and “show package contents”… nothing. I am now faced with re-importing 7 + years worth of files. Not sure of the root cause or if there are any other solutions — if anyone has had a similar experience or has any advice, please let me know. Thank you!

    • Dave

      @Donna, you could use Time Machine to recover the library?

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