Auto Importing iPhone Pictures to iPhoto


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Image via Wikipedia

One of the things I hate about syncing my iPhone is that it fires up iPhoto everytime there's any pictures that need to be imported. That's a pain. I'd rather that the photos got automatically imported and deleted off the device. Today I figured out how to do it. Note that these instructions assume Snow Leopard.

First thing to know is that Image Capture is your friend. You can use it to determine what happens when you plug in a device that looks like a camera on a device-by-device basis. For our purposes, there's a little known program called AutoImporter. Select that as the program to run when your iPhone is plugged in.

Image Capture

AutoImporter need to be configured to do the right thing. The application is located in System -> Library -> Image Capture -> Support -> Application. Fire it up (without a camera device attached to the computer) and look at it's preferences. If all you want is to have you pictures automatically offloaded into a folder on your computer, just select the folder, give it a naming convention, and determine whether to delete them from the camera or not when you're done. Easy. I did notice it's a little quirky about setting the subfolder name.

The problem is that we want them in iPhoto and that's not an option. Further, if you choose iPhoto as the application to start inside Image Capture, it won't automatically import. So, we have to trick it. Inside the iPhoto Library (inside your Pictures folder) there's a folder called Auto Import. To get to it, you have to right click the iPhoto Library and choose "Show Package Contents." The problem is that you can't do that from inside AutoImporter, so we have to get tricky.

Open the iPhoto Library in Finder and then right click the Auto Import folder and choose "Make Alias". Now move that alias somewhere outside the package (like your Pictures folder). Now you can choose this alias as the folder that AutoImporter puts pictures and select a naming convention for folders created in that folder.

Autoimporter preferences

Now, if you've done it right, when you plug in your iPhone, the photos will be copied to this folder and deleted from the phone automatically. The next time you start iPhoto, everything in the Auto Import will be imported.

Hat tip to Macworld "Image Capture Gets Smarter" (couldn't fond the story online to link to) and Mitch Cohen for the information that helped me put this together.