Although Apple has new ways of storing and managing your photos, it’s possible to continue using the old ways if that’s what you prefer.

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Practical Mac

Technology companies are always pushing forward with new devices, services and software revisions, but not everyone is able or willing to stay on that front edge.

Case in point: Photos for OS X. I wrote about Apple’s replacement for iPhoto and Aperture (Personal Technology, April 24), and although I think it’s a good update from iPhoto in particular, not everyone is ready to jump to it.

Apple, on the other hand, is ready for everyone to make that leap, and does a couple of sneaky things to encourage the migration. A reader contacted me this week wondering why, after updating to OS X Yosemite 10.10.3, Photos was now automatically opening when she connected her camera.

This feature is intended to be helpful — in fact, if you’re using the Photos application, it saves a step. But if you want to stick with iPhoto or Aperture, it presents two problems: Photos open every time you connect a camera or memory card, and it converts your photo library to the new application. Fortunately, you don’t need to stress about either situation.

In Photos, click the Import tab that appears when a camera or card is present. In the upper-left corner, click the checkbox to turn off the “Open Photos for this device” option. You’ll need to do that for other cards or cameras you regularly use, too.

You can specify that OS X open a different application, like iPhoto. To do that, open the Image Capture application (which was the precursor to iPhoto and Photos, and still has its uses). With your card or camera selected, look in the lower-left corner and choose the application you want to use in the “Connecting this camera opens” pop-up menu. (Choose “No application” to prevent anything from automatically launching.) That setting applies throughout OS X, not just within the Image Capture app.

Now, to the second issue: Photos converting your library. Photos, iPhoto, and Aperture all use the same format for their libraries, so you can open your library in any application interchangeably; once converted, a library doesn’t become unavailable to the older applications.

There’s a wrinkle, of course. The Photos app handles changes differently than iPhoto and Aperture, so although you can open your library in any of them, any edits you make in iPhoto or Aperture are not reflected in the Photos app.

So you need to make a choice: If you want to stick with iPhoto or Aperture, continue working in those and ignore Photos for now. There’s no good way to alternate between the old and new. (Apple has discontinued iPhoto and Aperture, but they still work; we don’t know how long that will last, however.)

When Photos converts a library, it creates a new library file on disk where all of the photos and information about them are stored. There’s some trickery going on behind the scenes, though. The images are not being duplicated (and therefore taking up twice the hard disk space), even if that appears to be the case.

When you open the migrated library in iPhoto or Aperture, you’ll be asked if you want to open it in Photos; choose the older application instead.

Similarly, if you have chosen to switch to Photos, don’t delete the old library file (which may appear with the filename extension iPhoto, depending on whether you’ve set the Finder to display extensions) in an attempt to free up disk space. Having both files there doesn’t take up twice the space.

It’s understandable that some people don’t want to move forward with the latest version of an application, especially a 1.0 version, and I offer kudos to Apple for making it possible to relatively easily use iPhoto and Aperture until they’re no longer functional.

For those who do want to live on the extreme edge, there’s another option: Apple has released public beta versions of OS X El Capitan, the next update to the Mac’s operating system, and iOS 9 for iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. If you signed up for the public beta program last year when Apple introduced it for OS X Yosemite, you can download and install the versions now. To sign up, go to

And remember: these are pre-release versions, so ideally you’d install them on test machines that aren’t critical to your work. If nothing else, make sure you have good backups that you can revert to if something goes sideways.