Support: Aperture

We have made every effort to assure a quick and easy integration into your future Aperture workflow with the most up to date taxonomic information. Unfortunately, in the scientific world there are few absolutes. One may find several common names for the same species or may find several spellings for either the common or the Latin taxonomic name. All may be correct, as there are many scientists compiling these lists.

We suggest that before using your Keyword Workflow keyword list, it would be helpful for users to read as much as possible about using keywords with Aperture. The directions we include are not meant to be a complete tutorial on the use of keywords in Aperture, but rather are meant to help users have a more efficient and timely workflow when using the Keyword Workflow keyword list you have purchased.

UPDATE: We’ve posted an informative video demonstration of a typical keywording session in Aperture. Note that the video uses the MarineLife Keyword List as an example, but the principles are the same across all Keyword Workflow lists.

Quick Guide to Keyword Workflow keyword lists in Aperture

Keyword lists have been tested in Aperture 2.1.3. Future versions of Aperture may make some instructions obsolete, so be sure and check the tutorials that come with new versions of Aperture.

  1. Download your newly-purchased copy of your Keyword Workflow keyword list and save it to your hard drive.
  2. Copy your the keyword list zip file to a safe place for storage and backup.
  3. Unzip the downloaded keyword list zip file. In Windows, right-click on the zip file and select Extract. On Mac OS X, double click on the file.
  4. Open Aperture using any method.
  5. Bring up the Keywords HUD by holding shift and H together.


Click in Import… at the bottom of the Keywords HUD. A file selection dialog box will open.


Select your downloaded keywords .txt file and click on Open. Note that it may take several minutes for your keywords to import into Aperture. When the Keywords HUD is visible again, you will see two new top-level Keywords in the list: (“Birds of the World“, “Mammals of the World“, or “Marine Life“) and “[NEEDS MORE]

  • Your Keyword Workflow keyword list is now installed and ready for integration into your workflow.
  • Sign up for our mailing list to be sure you receive all updates to your list as taxonomic name changes and new species are added, as well as for special offers for newly added lists.
  • How to use Keyword Workflow keywords in Aperture

    The best way to use the your new keyword list is to conjure up the Keywords HUD (shift-H). Select the images you would like to keyword, and then type the beginning of the common name of the animal or plant you’re looking for into the HUD’s search field. Once you see the keyword(s) you’re looking for, select one or more of keywords and drag them to the images you want to tag. Note that you can select multiple keywords by using shift-click and command-click.

    NOTE: as you type each letter, Aperture will search for all possible matches, and this can be quite slow. We hope that Aperture will improve their keyword search support in future versions.

    tagging a flamingo with the entire flamingo keyword hierarchy
    tagging a flamingo with the entire flamingo keyword hierarchy

    Another way you can access the keywords is by using the Keyword Controls visible on the bottom of the screen (shift-D shows/hides the Keyword Controls). Type the first word of the common name you’re looking for in the search field in the Keyword Controls, and a list of matches will come up.

    We do not recommend using keywords this way because of two reasons:

    1. If you type fast, the searches will only end up matching the last word you typed. (Aperture bug)
    2. The search results interface only returns the exact match and will not show you keywords higher in the hierarchy (e.g. if you search for “tiger shark”, “shark” will not show up)

    tagging a flamingo via keyword controls
    tagging a flamingo via keyword controls

    Issues with the Aperture and keywording

    Aperture’s keyword support is still fairly basic. Unfortunately, keyword searches in Aperture are slow and only support searches from the beginning of a keyword. This means that you cannot search for all sharks by searching for “shark”. This is an Aperture deficiency that we hope they fix in an upcoming version.

    How to use [NEEDS MORE]

    To facilitate workflow, we have added a list of generic keywords that do not have the genus or species attached. This list has the proper scientific family as a parent, which has a parent keyword of “[NEEDS MORE]“.

    For instance, if one knows they have taken a picture of a tern, but they do not know exactly which tern is in the image, they will be able to only assign the common name of “tern” to the image. When the exact type of tern is researched and found, then the user would simply search for all images with “[NEEDS MORE]” as a keyword. Every image in their library that needs more information for proper scientific identification will appear in the search results.

    The user can then select the tern keyword underneath the “[NEEDS MORE]” parent keyword and assign its correct common name with genus and species. After correctly assigning the common name with genus and species, the user may then delete the old tern keyword from the newly classified images, thus deleting [NEEDS MORE] from being associated to the now properly identified image.

    If you do not use this feature, you may delete the entire “[NEEDS MORE]” keyword hierarchy without affecting the rest of the keywords list. If you delete “[NEEDS MORE]” and would like it back, just re-import the keyword list.

    Advanced techniques

    If you are an advanced computer user, you can also open up a copy of the Keyword Workflow keyword file in a text editor and do partial text searches there.

    For example, if you are looking for an tern and can’t remember whether it’s a “common” or “black” tern, you can do a search in a text editor for “tern” until you see the one you are looking for.

    Also, since Aperture is so slow in searching when you type a search term in the Keywords HUD, you can also copy the text of the term you’re looking for from within your text editor (e.g. “common tern”) and then paste it into the search field of the Keywords HUD. Your results will appear instantly.

    Be sure to open a copy of the keyword list so there is no chance of corrupting the list.