Batch Upload on Mac (Apple Photos): Streamlining and Troubleshooting

After tinkering around for a while, I have found a method of uploading photos from a Mac that has generally minimized problems with upload errors, reduced photo quality, and timeout errors for large batch uploads. My workflow is as follows:

  • Import photos from SD card to “Photos” app
  • Scroll “Imports” folder, adding organism photos to the “Favorites” folder and crop as desired
  • In iNat upload window, go to “Choose files”>”Photos”>”Favorites”
  • Select all photos in “Favorites” and “Open”
  • Combine duplicates and duplicate multi-taxon photos
  • Add identifications and fill in missing metadata
  • Upload

I have found this method to be quite quick and effective, but there are a couple of issues I have encountered occasionally:

  • Heavily cropped images almost invariably lose metadata. I have learned to find the optimum crop in most cases, but this is still quite frustrating.
  • Not all images that appear in the “Favorites” folder of “Photos” appear in the “Favorites” folder of the media upload window. This issue is most prevalent in (but not exclusive to) cropped images.

I don’t think these are bugs with iNat, but I think they could be alleviated by improving my workflow. Does anyone using a similar workflow have ways to streamline or improve upon this? In response to the second issue, I have had some success adding photos to a new folder/album, but I prefer how easy it is to toggle images in and out of “Favorites” between batch uploads. I haven’t tried any third-party photo managing/editing software, but I tend to favor built-in apps unless there is a distinct advantage to switching.


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I use the Photos app on Mac OS but I don’t crop images nor do I use “Favorites”. I use File => Export and then upload to iNat from there. I’m not saying that’s any better than your workflow, I simply offer it for comparison.

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I do something similar to @trscavo. After cropping or editing the photos in Apple Photos, and adding description and keywords if desired, I select the photos I want, then use File --> Export (to a folder I call iNat), upload to iNaturalist from there, and then move the exported photos to trash.

I do a couple of things during the Export, though (in the Export window). First, I use Medium quality and Custom size, with Max Dimension 3000 pixels. This seems to speed up the process without sacrificing quality significantly. Then, I check the box to export the metadata (time, place, and description). I’ve already written notes in the “description” field for Photos, so these notes are exported and all I have to do is edit them if necessary before final submission to INat. (I did discover that if several photos are combined in an observation, only the description of the top one is used.)

I can’t claim this is particularly fast. But the cadence is about right for me. I get to think about which photos will work best, what notes to add, and what order to put them in. The metadata transfer is seamless, and I don’t make a lot of mistakes I’d otherwise be prone to.

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Yes, it’s easier (and generally more useful) to create the description in Photos before uploading to iNat. I also add a keyword “iNaturalist” to every photo I upload. Suppose I take 10 photos of a butterfly, two of which are ultimately uploaded. In that case I tag all 10 photos with “iNaturalist” to avoid duplicate uploads in the future.


Thanks so much, @trscavo, @janetwright! Your suggestions sound like they could help make this process a lot smoother. I’ll be sure to try them out tomorrow!

BTW, I just noticed that in the most recent version of Apple Photos they now call the “description” field the “caption.” So Apple Photos’ “caption” becomes iNaturalist’s “description” (which in the iOS iNat app is called “notes”). All the same.

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