Aperture Library Spanner

March 20, 2006 by
Filed under: Features 

By default, Apple’s Aperture constrains its internal library to a single volume. However, with a little under-the-hood tinkering you can span your library across multiple drives, providing you with far more storage for your Aperture images. The Aperture Library Spanner is a simple app that automatically configures your Aperture library to span multiple volumes.

To use the Aperture Library Spanner, simply download and uncompress it, then launch it just like any other application. The program’s simple dialog box provides you with controls for specifying the location of your current library, and the volume you’d like to span to. Full documentation is included inside the app, and the spanning operation can easily be undone from within Aperture.

The Aperture Library Spanner is free to download, but please don’t distribute it.

Download the Aperture Library Spanner

Related Links:
Automating Aperture and Photoshop
Start Photoshop Roundtrip, an Automator Action for Aperture
Aperture Philosophy


20 Comments on Aperture Library Spanner

  1. Guillermo Ramas on Sat, 10th Jun 2006 7:35 am
  2. Hi, love the library spanner! I do have one question though, I have observed that if I tell aperture to create a vault, it is only backing up whatever is in the “local” part of the library, and not the whole thing…. Am I missing something? Do i need to manually backup the rest of it? Maybe I am doing something wrong?

    Thanks so much in advance and thank you for this great solution that Aperture should have included in their software.


  3. Ben Long on Mon, 12th Jun 2006 10:03 am
  4. Hi Guillermo, Unfortunately, Aperture doesn’t find its way into the Branch Library when it performs a Vault backup, so you’re right, it’s not involved in that backup process. So, to back up the branch library, you’re going to have to simply back up the Branch Library folder yourself, using the Finder. The downside to this scheme, of course, is that you’ll have to copy the entire Branch Library file every time you want to perform a backup, rather than getting the progressive backup features of the Vault process. I was thinking of making an AppleScript that would trigger a vault backup and back up the branch library for you, but Aperture doesn’t provide AppleScript control of the Vault process.

    I haven’t tried it, but you could consider using a syncing or backup program like Synchronize Pro to do a progressive backup of your Aperture Branch Library. Since the library is a package, which is really just a folder, it might be possible to point such a program to it.



  5. Gustavo on Sat, 29th Jul 2006 6:52 pm
  6. Hi,

    do you know if there is a free trial/download of Aperture? Thanks.

  7. Chris on Mon, 7th Aug 2006 12:46 pm
  8. This is only feature that was keeping me from getting aperture! I have one question though, how do you decide what photos will go into a branch library?

  9. Ben Long on Fri, 11th Aug 2006 4:42 pm
  10. Chris, once you use the Aperture Library Spanner, you’ll have a new Branch Library item in the Library pane in Aperture. You can simply drag projects or folders onto the Branch Library item to move them to the external drive. It may take a while, as this is a normal file copy, but once they’re there you can use them as you normally would.

  11. Ben Long on Fri, 11th Aug 2006 5:05 pm
  12. Gustavo, Unfortunately, there’s no free trial version of Aperture. Don’t know why Apple’s skipping this, but maybe they’ll get it together with version 2.

  13. Anonymous on Tue, 12th Sep 2006 5:35 pm
  14. can it be a intel UB version?

  15. James on Fri, 19th Jan 2007 8:58 pm
  16. Yes, there is a free 30-day trial of Aperture that you can download from Apple’s site:


  17. Anonymous on Sat, 10th Feb 2007 10:29 am
  18. I get an AppleScript Error (“NSRecieverEvaluationScriptError: 4 (1)”) when the app opens and whenever I try to press a button… Is this my system being borked or some strange (new?) incompatibility you should know about? :-/

    Mac OS X 10.4.8, PB 17″ (PPC)

  19. Mike on Mon, 19th Feb 2007 8:12 pm
  20. I have one request, and I am sure this would be a simple two lines… Can you add a field to specify the library name?

    Much thanks.

    I was about pulling my hair out over this, and along came you. Fabulous. For me, the multiple volumes are my backup, so the lack of the Aperture backup finding them is a moot point… Again, thank you oh so much…


  21. Tedd_Greenwald on Sun, 15th Apr 2007 5:47 am
  22. Great work here and a real problem solver, Can we look forward to spanning 3 drives next?
    I really like the way iViewMediaPro can link to the external locations of your photos so quickly. If you hit a catalog item and the photo is not online it’s in red. If you have acess to it on your drive it’s black. Maybe Aperture does this I’m brand new to it. I found that like with Photoshop I had to actually read the book to learn it. This little app is great. Thanks

  23. Peter on Wed, 7th Nov 2007 12:11 am
  24. Does not appear to work with Leopard!!!!!

  25. thomas on Sat, 15th Mar 2008 12:20 am
  26. For some reason all my branch library contents are now shown as “unrecognized format.” I went to import a project from branch library. It works for a while then it shows up as ok in the branch library folder again. The other projects still contain images as unrecognized format.

  27. michal on Fri, 21st Mar 2008 9:04 am
  28. I can not access projects in branch library since I’ve upgraded to Aperture 2.
    Did anyone have and solved this problem?

  29. face on Sat, 22nd Nov 2008 2:44 am
  30. I’d like to use it with Dropbox: move-spanner a library in a Dropbox folder.
    I use Aperture 2 and seems not to work
    Anyone ?

  31. Ben Long on Fri, 5th Dec 2008 11:10 am
  32. Hey everyone – I actually haven’t had a chance to test the spanner with version 2, so I don’t know if it will work or not. It’s been on my to-do list, but I just haven’t had a chance to get around to it. Thanks!

  33. Ben Long on Fri, 5th Dec 2008 11:11 am
  34. Face: I haven’t actually tested the Library Spanner with version 2, so I’m not sure how it might be working. However, even if it does span into your drop box, I’m not sure that what you’re trying to do will work. I’ve tried lots of schemes to try to create a shared library and projects so that they can be used by multiple users, and none of them ever work. The problem has to do with the read/write priviledges in the library database. The DB is really designed for single use only, so I don’t think there’s a hack or workaround possible.

  35. Chris on Tue, 21st Jul 2009 9:17 am
  36. Hi Ben,

    Aperture spanner does not recognize the path, my aperture library is not in my pictures folder,
    I put the library on my 2nd internal drive, the path is /Volumes/MacHD2/ApetureLibray.aplibrary.

    I point to the the drive and the library is greyed out.

    Any thoughts?

    Much thanks!

  37. Ronald Fair on Mon, 16th Nov 2009 12:38 pm
  38. I’m having problems backing up Aperture. Everytime I add new files I get back-up errors on those files.It seems like a simple process, obviously I’m missing something.

  39. Ben Long on Thu, 19th Nov 2009 1:58 pm
  40. Sorry, but since I’m not using Aperture anymore, I don’t really have time to maintain this, so it’s probably best to give up on it, if you’re using a newer version of Aperture, or the Mac OS.

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