What do the Aperture badges mean?

There are a myriad things you can do to a photograph in Apple's Aperture. A typical workflow may include applying ratings, keywords, location, adjustments, and round-tripping your images to external editors. Then there are albums, stacks, books, light tables, and more. It's easy to loose track of what you've done to and with each photograph.

Fortunately, Aperture makes it easy for you to quickly identify the key things you need to know. It does this by overlaying small symbols in the corners of your photographs called badges.

I get asked often what these badges in Aperture mean, so I've put together the table below to point people to. It shows you the icon for the badge, a description, and the location where this badge will appear.

The badges in Aperture

badge adjustments This means adjustments have been made to the photograph. This badge will appear whenever you add any adjustment from the adjustments tab. It basically lets you know that you've already done something to the image. A version with two sliders is sometimes used. Lower Right
badge keywords This means the photograph has keywords assigned to it. Lower Right
external edit This means the photograph has been edited in an external editor. Whenever you select "Edit with..." and choose an application or a plug-in (ie. Photoshop, Nik, onOne, etc.) Lower Right
badge referenced This means the photograph is referenced. That is, the master file (or original) is not stored within the Aperture library, called managed, but it's somewhere else and Aperture is only referencing it. Lower Right
badge referenced offline This means the photograph is referenced, but the master image is offline. This will happen if you have the masters in an external drive and it's not attached to the computer. Lower Right
badge referenced lost This means Aperture expects the photograph to be referenced, but cannot find the master and it's lost the path to where it is. You may need to re-sync. Lower Right
badge ratings stars This is the rating you've assigned to the photograph. It goes from 1 star to 5 stars. If the photograph is unrated it won't have a badge, and if it's been rejected it'll have an 'X' instead of stars. Lower Left
badge stack This badge tells you the image is part of a stack and how many photographs are contained in the stack. Upper Left
stacks This is also for stacks, but it tells you you're looking at the second image in a stack of 3. It will appear, for example, within a smart album where not all images in the stack are visible. Imagine a smart album where the filter is 3 stars or more. If only the second image in the stack is a 3 star photograph, while the others are 1 star, you'll see this badge. Upper Left
badge low resolution This badge will appear whenever the image resolution is too low for the book or webpage you're trying to create. The badge appears in the image within the book/webpage, not in the thumbnail though. Upper Right
album-pick This badge tells you the photograph is the album's pick. It's useful when you have, for example, a stack of 3 images. One Black & White, one Full Color, one Color Monochrome. If you do 3 albums, one for B&W's, one for color shots, etc, you can "pick" the one that goes into each album from the stack. Upper Centre
book This badge tells you the number of times the photograph has been used within a book, web journal or light table. Upper Right
globe This one doesn't seem to be documented anywhere. I haven't seen it since MobileMe died. The badge is a little globe and it was used for images that came from a MobileMe gallery. For example, if you exported a gallery to MobileMe, then deleted the original image from your Library, and then synced the MobileMe gallery again, Aperture would know the master is missing from the Library and will pull down the jpeg from MobileMe with this badge. Lower Right
badge photostream This one means Aperture downloaded this image from Photo Stream, Facebook or Flickr. Lower Right
“badges This means a location has been assigned to the image. You'll see it in the Places view. Upper Centre
“badges This means the image is part of a RAW + JPEG pair (you imported them together), and this is the RAW version. Lower Right
“badges This means the image is part of a RAW + JPEG pair (you imported them together), and this is the JPEG version. Lower Right
“badges This means the photograph has an audio file attached (some cameras let you record an audio file when you take a photograph) or the file is an audio file. Lower Right
“badges This means the file is a video and not a photograph. Lower Right

Of course, you can also consult the manual, which includes a short description for most of Aperture's badges. It doesn't, however, include them all.

You can also get to the manual from within Aperture itself. Just go to Help > Aperture Help. Unfortunately, the search doesn't work very well here. Searching for "badges" doesn't point me to the right page. But searching for "badge overlays overview" does, which is the title of the page. Very annoying if you ask me.

How to read the badge overlays in Aperture

Let's look at a specific example. The thumbnail below has several badges, can you identify what it's telling you?

Aperture badges

Aperture badges

You can learn multiple things just from looking at the badges in the image above:

  1. I've rated it 4 Stars.
  2. I've edited in an external editor (Nik Plugin).
  3. I've made further adjustments in Aperture.
  4. I've assigned keywords.
  5. It's part of a stack of 4 images.
  6. It's the album pick (for a book).
  7. I've used it once in the book.
  8. I've applied the grey label.

Aperture's badges are a great way to know what you've done to a photograph. I find them immensely helpful as part of my workflow and a huge time saver.