Submitting observations from Apple laptop - is export to a folder a necessary step?

On an Apple computer, photos are housed in the Apple Photos app. To get them onto iNaturalist through the web interface (, I have used a twe-step procedure: (1) EXPORT the photos from the Photos app to a file folder on my laptop’s desktop, and (3) upload to iNat from that file folder. iNaturalist’s “choose files” can’t take photos directly from the Photos app, so the export to a file is a necessary step – or is it? I’ll be teaching another workshop on this soon and just want to see if anyone has a better workflow for Apple users who like to submit observations via the website.

That’s what I do but I’ve never really tried anything else so I can’t say it’s a required step. Once you get the options in the dialog set up properly, it’s just a few keystrokes to export (using the keyboard shortcut instead of the menu).


I use windows, but it is essentially the same thing. No, at least to the best of my knowledge from any Photos app you cannot do anything except move, edit, crop, etc. Although, I do have a question for your question, where can I find more about iNat workshops?

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With the older iPhoto app on my Mac, I can drag and drop photos directly from the app to the Upload page on iNaturalist, but there is a downside to that pathway since the Uploader does not properly parse species names from the files. See this discussion about the failure to parse species names properly from iPhoto. (I have an older Mac and still use the older app.) To allow the Uploader to properly parse the species names from my photo filenames, I have to go through the same intermediate step that you describe. I make sure I export using the “title” of the images rather than the original filename and, of course, I make sure it exports location information, etc. (options available at Export).


As far as I know, the iNaturalist staff doesn’t do or set up workshops, though they have some great training videos. All the iNat learning events I know of are conducted unofficially by iNaturalist volunteers. I bet many of the City Nature Challenge groups do advance iNaturalist training, so check any that are near you. The sessions I’ll be doing are in conjunction with the Great Smoky Mountains Spring Wildflower Pilgrimage. They will be based on tips I journaled a couple of years ago at


I agree it’s pretty quick and straightforward. Just wanted to see if anyone had discovered a shortcut! Thanks.

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Thanks! I’ll have to look into that… based on what I know, no CNCs will be going on in my city, but one could hope for the future.

The online format is much worse than the app, and I almost always suggest people just upload from mobile. That can be tough if someone uploaded an SD card to their computer from a camera, or a similar situation. I’m on Mac and usually put my photos on a desktop folder first and then upload.

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I always export photos to my desktop and then add them to the web uploader. By far the most important thing people should be aware of when exporting photos from the Photos app for iNat is that they should have the “Location Information” box checked on Export:

Otherwise, photos that have location info embedded in them will not contain that information on export.


When I am using my Macbook, I have never needed to move photos to files or to the desktop.

I keep my iPhotos “library” open as a window, and drag and drop photos into the upload box on iNaturalist. This works well if the photos I want to upload are recent, and easy to find in my photo library, and if I remember which ones I want to post.

If I have a bunch of older photos that I haven’t got around to uploading yet, I keep them in an Album (which I call “Add to iNat”) within iPhotos. Then I keep this Album open (instead of Library), so I can drag and drop from there. Once I post them, I make sure I remove (not delete) them from the album. That way a quick look at the album lets me see if I am up to date…


I never use the Photos app on my MacBook Pro. I have a folder, Patti Photos, on my desktop where I put all of my photos. For each day of photography, I make a new folder in Patti Photo and download from my camera card directly to that folder. When the laptop starts getting full of files, I copy the older folders to a couple of solid state external drives and delete them from the laptop.


My experience is that uploading via the website is WAY more flexible and faster than via the mobile app. It’s always interesting to find out others see it the other way round.

@danly, your method worked! I did notice though that if I dropped photos directly from Apple Photos into the upload box, the location and time settings stayed with the photo, but the comments (“caption” in Photos) don’t go through to “notes.” I use that caption box extensively so I guess your method won’t work for me, but I’m glad to know about it. Your “Add to iNat” album also makes sense.

@pattiedens, that appears to make your method more like Windows. I use the Edit functions in Apple Photos a lot, so your method wouldn’t work for me, but it is probably great for some, thanks!

Mac user here; I haven’t used Apple Photos in ages.

When I dump my camera card, I make a desktop folder titled with date and which camera it was. (ex., 2024-03-31 Sony dump). Subfolders for specific observation days are titled in date / location format. I have holding folders set up to keep the desktop relatively uncluttered, but I open everything from a Finder window.

I edit in Preview; it’s kind of primitive, but all I’m doing is resize / adjust color / sharpen. I’ll get fancier once I find a non-Ad0be package that I like and doesn’t require me to mortgage a kidney. I stopped using Photos for a couple of reasons. First off, newer versions stopped working with older photo libraries. Second, I really disliked the way that Photos got grabby with anything that had been opened in it, whether it would actually open or not. After several instances of “this library cannot be opened by Photo” (but Photo is now the default, so you’re going to have to fight to open it with anything else), I just cut Apple Photo out of the loop altogether. Can’t say as I’ve missed it, either.


You can submit straight from Photos. At least on Safari, when you click Upload and then Choose Files from, you get a separate tab to choose from where you want to pull the photos. The sidebar has an option to upload them from Photos. My macbook’s still running Big Sur, so idk if it’s different on other OS updates, but this has worked for me for about the last five years, so i don’t think it’s changed.


@thenaturespotter, your method works from Safari on my macbook running OS Sonoma. And the “notes” section does come through to iNaturalist (unlike with Chrome). Thanks for the information! One quirk is that it searches only the DEFAULT photos library. So if you use multiple libraries like I do, this may be an issue, but if you don’t, it’s good.

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Just open your Apple photo album and drag the photo onto the iNat upload page - takes seconds

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Thanks - some notes about that above. Works differently on different browsers, but definitely possible.