The One Apple App I Hate: iPhoto

Beachball

Hey, that’s not a screenshot of iPhoto. Nope, it isn’t. It’s a screencap of the one thing I see most of whenever I have to spend any time at all with my least favorite Apple app ever – the Spinning Wheel of Wait on iPhoto on the Mac.

I have mentioned how I hate iPhoto on Twitter and other social networks, and while some agree with me I always hear from some who love the app and reckon it performs like a champion. To that second group I say great stuff and lucky you. I’ve used a MacBook and three MacBook Pros over recent years, the latest couple with 8GB of RAM and very powerful all-round specs. And on every single one of them iPhoto runs like a dog. Like a huge, fat, probably crippled dog. In fact the word runs is not even appropriate – to say it crawls would be an undeserved compliment.

None of my Macs have been generally slow, none have had any trouble running any other apps – including iTunes, virtual machines on VMware and Parallels, browsers with 20+ tabs open at a time, and so on. All generally perform well (apart from occasional major lapses nearly always caused by one Flash related plugin or other).

But iPhoto isn’t just slow; it’s diabolically, soul-destroyingly slow. Always. How or when is it slow you might ask. Here are some of the ways:

– It’s ridiculously slow to open. Like get up, go make a coffee, do some stretching, check the weather, return and see it maybe somewhere near finished opening.

– It’s farcically slow when importing photos from anywhere. Watching it struggle and gasp and limp along on a Photo Stream update was nothing short of painful – and of course not short at all. I believe people finish marathons faster than iPhoto handled that import.

– It’s slow to exit. Incredibly slow. iPhoto > Quit. Yes – quit. Quit now. Just close down. Quit sometime today, please. FFS.

– It’s stupendously slow to respond to almost any click or action of any kind while in it.

I know the app has many great features, or at least so I’m lead to believe – but honestly as hard as I try I just cannot bear to spend any length of time with this horrific app to see whether they actually work.

If there’s such thing as Hell and my life has not been lived well enough to avoid it, I imagine I will be doomed to an eternity of staring at a Mac with only iPhoto installed on it.

Blah, I feel like this post does not begin to express the level of my hatred of iPhoto.

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  • jacoch

    I suppose it’s because I’m running it on an SSD (core i7 2.8), but iPhoto starts in less than 5s with my 22k photo library. About the same to quit. Far from perfect, but I can do with it. The only time I saw iPhoto as you describe, it’s when the library was saved on a shared drive.

  • http://www.irobt.co.uk RobT

    Such a shame you have so many problems as it’s rather brilliant, I have an 09 macbook 2ghz and it runs great, i’ve only got about 50gb of photos but it certainly doesn’t seem to slow down over time.

    One thing i’ve noticed is now the automatic faces recognition and photostream have put a lot more demand on the cpu when you open the app up.

    Have you tried backing your photos up and started a new library file? just incase it’s some form of corrupt random album/file

  • kwame

    Yeah iPhoto is slow even on a MacBook Pro. Other programs run way faster

  • Jcs

    Back in the days of the first version of OS/X we called that the “rainbow wheel go death”. It was really common then.

  • Jcs

    Damn iPad autocorrect. That’s supposed to be rainbow when’ll of death.

  • Brandon

    Just short of 3000 photos, stored on a 1TB external USB drive – 18 seconds to load. Scrolling photos, opening, editing is not exactly fast, but I wouldn’t call it crippled dog slow either. I’m sure from my SSD it would be a lot faster, but I don’t want to waste the space.

    Just timed it – 3 seconds to close.

    2.53 Ghz intel Core 2 Duo – 8 GB RAM.

    You didn’t mention how many photos you’re working with in your library.

  • http://isource.com/ PatrickJ

    LIbrary is 11GB. Not stored on external drive, stored in standard location in /Pictures folder. Same was true on all the Macs I’ve had it on – except of course on older Macs library was smaller and performance was still epically bad.

    • Brandon

      I guess I’m just lucky. 22.47GB on disk (external) and it isn’t epically bad. I’m prone to rant about of a lot of things, but fortunately iPhoto isn’t one of them right now.

      Lion on the other hand… garbage.

  • Anonymous

    If you are running iPhoto off a slow external drive or a network share then it is incredibly slow :-( It obviously does a lot of reading from small files (thumbnails) …

  • XML

    Love your rant, there’s much truth to it.

    I always felt like iPhoto was secretly programmed by a renegade group of apple coders that are on Microsofts payroll.

  • Kerry

    I have a MacBook Pro 13″ that I bought in February. iPhoto is the slowest program that I run on the machine. Scrolling through photos and importing is not terribly slow. However, when I click on a photo and then click the Edit option in the lower right, I can pretty much go wash my car, clean up, get a cup of coffee, and come back and wait a while before it is ready for me to actually edit the photo. It is horrendously slow.

  • Mary

    I feel your pain. Same thing here, for years my 40,000k library has been barely usable. Just tried two things and one of them actually worked. Not sure which but I’ve leaving well enough alone and keeping both of the new settings.

    1st. In preferences/spotlight add your Pictures folder to the Privacy tab. It will disable searching for photos in spotlight. Not an issue for me because I don’t even name my photos and I still should be able to search within iPhoto.

    2nd thing was, in iPhoto preferences I turned sharing off. I rarely use this feature but I can turn it back on if I need to. It will mean that you won’t have access to your photos on other computers, devices, or apple tv on your network. Just turn it back on temporarily if you want.

    Something worked! I even opened and used, dare I say it, Faces which has always been so slow it was unusable.

    Huge difference …. just try it! Good luck!

  • Mary

    Update: As I suspected, It’s the sharing thing. I added pictures back to spotlight but kept iPhoto sharing off and still quick!

  • Jen

    Thats funny! I thought it was just me. Do you have a lot of photo’s? I do and I wonder if that has something to do with it. It drives me nuts though.

  • Bill

    What you describe is not what happens when most people use iPhoto so please let us know a little more details about your setup… How large is your photo library? How many pics are in it? Are most of your photos very high resolution? Are they in the slower huge-size RAW format? Have you run the latest Apple Software updates? Have you tried to rebuild your Library? Have you called the AppleCare folks and followed their suggestions?

  • http://twitter.com/djaferisp Philip Djaferis

    I hate the manner it works and how it’s next to impossible to manage folders the way i want, photos always being duplicated where I least want them; total chaos…I worked OK with the older version but the latest is just rubbish.