Featured image courtesy of Mylio.
Mylio Photos is a new device independent and operating system independent image asset management tool for MacOS and Windows 10 or later. Mylio’s architecture and design is based on the premise that tech comes and tech goes but that your images are unique and irreplaceable. Mylio offers well-conceived image management by date, geo-tag, people-tag, categories, and keyword tags, etc. Mylio works because file formats are standardized and long-lived. As a result, images can be edited and rendered multiple times over their lifetime if they can be kept safe and located. Mylio’s design allows you to work with its internal editor or an editor of your choice.
Mylio is offered as a service for $100 per year software subscription. Your images stay “within the lifelines”, that is, on your local machines. Mylio is a non-destructive editor. That is, Mylio keeps your images using standard file formats for image encoding and image editing specification encoding. Mylio preserves the unedited original and reconstructs and presents the edited version upon request. Edited thumbnails are available for browsing. And all of your portable iOS and Android devices can participate. Read on to learn more.
- 2022-06-23 Original
- 2022-06-28 Explain vaults more clearly and mention Mylio’s movie editing capability
Mylio has an excellent user guide that gives good procedures for almost all Mylio tasks. Please verify that you are looking at Version 22 of the user guide which matches the current software. You can usually find what you need in the navigation sidebar. The sidebar replicates the Guide’s Table of Contents. The following topics were consulted in the preparation of this post.
- Mylio User Guide
- Jim Nix introduces Mylio video
- Mylio User Guide on Edit With — note cautions
- Mylio User Guide for working with cameras and their SD Cards
- Wikipedia: Extensible Media Platform file
Mylio allows you to download the user guide as a PDF that may be read using Apple Mac Preview or Windows 11 Edge Browser.
Motivation for Mylio
Mylio is a new approach to image management. Asset management is important yet is often an afterthought. Apple’s photo management of the decade places images at risk. The proliferation of copies as you change asset managers and image editors conspires to cause image loss. Mylio is a well conceived attempt to stop image library rot.
Do you know where your originals are? Are they safe? What have you done to safeguard them?
Apple Photos Approach
MacOS Photos.App keeps applications in an opaque library on the host’s primary disk. Time Machine includes the Photos library (system photo library) in its save sets. But what if Photos library has gotten big? What if you start a new one every decade, every year, or every phone? Or, heaven forbid, your next phone is a Samsung Galaxy?
Photos only shows images for the library currently open. Finder can show the others with some clickety-clickery.
Oh, and Photos is a MacOS only thing. Suppose you have an Android phone? (I didn’t say that) What if you change Android products and brands only to discover that each uses a different photo manager (maker or carrier value added) ?
Suppose you have Windows stuff? Microsoft is not noted for having a strong photos manager. Microsoft Photos is available from the Windows store. It is not preinstalled. It is rarely mentioned.
Suppose you’ve been at this a while and Apple has zigged and zagged on how it does photos a few times. Remember iPhotos? Remember Aperture? What about pro products like Lightroom, Capture 1, etc that are always morphing. And changing business models.
Can we separate the process of editing photos from managing image assets and preserving them? Mylio is designed on the premise that the answer is Yes.
An Overlooked Need?
I often find myself reusing an image multiple times for multiple applications. I may post a version to Twitter or Mastodon. I may put a version in the holiday card. I may put a version in the blog. Right now, I’m not aware of an image asset manager that associates derivative images with the originals from which they were produced. Each derivative becomes the current edit in Apple Photos. That or you duplicate the original, edit, and save with the derivative images following the master in the image ribbon. I’m not aware of anything that can maintain a tree of related images.
Mylio is designed for general use by photographers having large long-lived libraries used in both personal and professional roles. Mylio achieves this in several ways.
- Mylio’s image and video editors are nondestructive. The editor produces an updated image and an edits list that Mylio retains in the library with the original file. As needed Mylio will retrieve the original and the edits list files and create high quality renderings for use.
- Mylio follows industry standard image storage practices with regard to image file format and image editing instruction file format. Mylio produces derivative images from the original raw file or JPEG as needed. Editing instructions are stored in a .XMP file.
- Mylio supports a broad collection of camera raw image formats that changes continually as manufacturers introduce new cameras.
- Mylio provides flexible mechanisms for cataloging images by date, place, import, and tags.
- Mylio partially automates image organization using geo-tagging and face recognition. Using keywords, Mylio supports image organization by client, job, and shoot for working photographers and corporate libraries. Mylio face recognition happens locally and is independent of that provided by the host OS.
- Mylio can pass images to external editors using the Adobe Photoshop protocols for image exchange with an external editor. There are currently caveats about preserving the edited image as a new version and that the edit descriptors may not be retained.
- Mylio can make basic edits to video including exposure correction, trimming for running time, etc. I’ve not tried this capability but it appears comparable to that in Photos App. Color correction, etc as in Black Magic Design’s DaVinci Resolve are not provided.
I envision using Mylio primarily to maintain a robust backup of my images in its vaults. Mylio does this well and automatically. The contents of the vault are immune to Apple’s next bright idea. Keeping proper photo backups has been a sore subject here as I have used Apple iPhotos, Apple Photos, Adobe Lightroom, Phase One Capture 1 Sony edition, Luminar 4, Luminar AI, Luminar Neo, etc to edit and render images over the years. Over 20 years, Pictures has become a horrid jumble of exports, retired product debris, and Apple app-libraries. As I continue in the hobby, it has become apparent to me that it is important to separate image asset management, image manipulation, and image presentation roles.
Mylio uses a peer-to-peer architecture. Mylio can synchronize mobile devices without your Mylio MacOS or Windows Mylio being up. At a later time, Mylio will catch up the home machines.
Mylio’s architecture includes one or more vault hosts, mobile devices, and cameras. A MacOS or Windows 11 computer serves as vault host and there may be more than one. Mylio considers images protected when they are saved in two vaults. A Mac or Windows PC’s internal Mylio library counts as the first. External storage connected to the Mac or PC counts as the second. The external storage may be a USB or Thunderbolt storage device or a network storage device supporting CIFS protocol.
The computer keeps the vault and runs the primary instance of Mylio that maintains the vault. Mobile devices take images and synchronize them with the vault. Mobile devices can also edit images as can the vault host.
Mylio considers cameras to be external storage on which images appear. Mylio will copy or move images from the camera’s storage to its vaults.
Mylio’s architecture assumes that each photographer in a household will have their own individual photo library. To do this, each member of the household needs to have an individual OS login and to actually use it. The member’s mobile devices will be added to his library account but not to others.
Use Mylio Version 22 or newer
If working with MacOS Photos and iCloud Photo library, Mylio cautions to use Mylio Version 22 rather than Mylio Version 3. Version 22 deals correctly with the many complications of iCloud photo library and keep originals on my Mac.
Mylio maintains its library on the Mac/PC host’s primary storage (system disk). In a MacOS multi-user environment, Mylio will maintain separate libraries for each user that has set up Mylio. In future sessions, Mylio will do its work in the context of the currently logged in user. For example, Mylio will keep parents and kids separate if each has an individual account with a Mylio instance active and actually uses it.
Libraries can be Vaults
Mylio regards a device as a vault if it is backed up regularly and holds original quality images. In my installation, the iMac known as FruitMachine and a NAS share are vaults. The NAS replicates to a second NAS that backs it up. The backup NAS backs up internally to a large internal disk. Backblaze Personal backs up the iMac off site.
The figure shows my installation’s dashboard. A device’s Device Quality settings determine whether it is a vault or another shared copy of the library.
Cameras are Storage to Mylio
Cameras save images to a camera roll folder. Mylio imports images from the camera roll and will copy them into the Mylio library or move (copy and delete) them into the Mylio library.
See #The Real Camera below for more information.
Mylio Library Organization
Mylio organizes mobile device photos as device collections within Apple Photos.
The first directory is the overall container for this Mylio Library.
- The 100MSDCF directory holds everything imported from the Sony Alpha 6300 memory card while mounted as external storage.
- The four year-numbered directories that follow are my four Apple Photos libraries. Mylio found these on its own when it searched the system disk for photo assets.
- The Alpha 6300 yyyy-mm-dd directories are folders for each import from the Sony Alpha 6300.
The Mylio NAS Vault has a more elaborate organization with directories for the iMac and Apple Photos.
It appears to be a best practices to use the camera’s USB interface to import images rather than popping the SD card out and putting it in your computer’s SD card reader. Using the USB interface, Mylio will keep the camera model in the identifying taxonomy. Using the card, Mylio looses access to the camera identification.
Dismal Manor Photos Backup
I have found the following to be the least trouble here at Dismal Manor. The Manor is somewhat unique in that it has a pair of TrueNAS Core file servers with the first replicating its content to the second. The second replicates to an internal disk giving 2 local backups of everything kept in the share.
The primary NAS is also our Apple Time Machine target. Time Machine keeps all our MacOS treasures there. So life is best when a project begins life on MacOS.
Now that Apple Photos and iCloud are mature, I have found it best to use Apple Photos as asset manager with an iCloud photo library to allow the mobile devices (iPhone and iPad) to sync via iCloud. I have a Photos system photo library in which I keep my full resolution originals.
Mylio replicates iPad and iPhone images to the Mylio master vault on Fruit Machine and to the Mylio backup vault on Peabody. Time Machine replicates the Photos library to Peabody’s Time Machine spool volume. Peabody snapshot and replication saves the vaults to the Peabody dataset on Sherman. Sherman snapshot and replication saves the Sherman datasets to the Sherman backup pool.
Daily Battle Rhythm
Our normal daily battle rhythm sees me taking several snapshots during the day. Most are with the iPhone 11. Some are with the iPad Mini. Each mobile device is configured to keep originals in the MacOS system photo library.
- I start Mylio on the iMac
- I start Mylio on my mobile
- I start Mylio on my iPad
- The three instances synchronize image libraries
- I do the day’s editing in Apple Photos plus Luminar Neo
- I stop Photos and all Mylio instances after sync finishes
I use Apple Photos as my image asset manager. Photos has a Library view that allows me to quickly locate images by image content. This view creates a folio of images with grouping by years, months, days, or all images. I usually locate an image knowing about when it was made by using the years and months views to get to the right part of my library and the days view to locate the image.
I start the edit in Photos and used the Photos Edit With interface to choose my current editor of choice, currently Luminar Neo. I edit the image in Neo. When finished, the Neo plugin’s Save changes button returns the image to Photos. Photos Done button updates the library.
A Camera Photo Session
iPhone photograph can be as simple as it needs to be or it can be more complex if using iPhone to produce video for YouTube or other outlets. A bit more disciplined approach is needed to keep images sorted by projects. Specifically, each shoot needs to start from a clean camera roll.
Preparing to shoot
- Confirm that camera images have been saved
- Clear the camera’s storage
- Check and set the camera’s clock. Cameras don’t do network time protocol.
- Check that the battery is charged. If not, swap in a spare or charge a solo battery.
- If your workflow uses Apple Photos, check that the camera is saving RAW files only. Photos notoriously hands off a JPEG to the external editor when RAW+JPEG quality is enabled.
Between sessions, I review the previous day’s images and edit them in Apple Photos using Luminar Neo. Mylio Edit with may also be used but external editor quirks must be accommodated. Later, I’ll describe how to send images off to Luminar Neo for editing and retention in the Luminar catalog.
- Start Mylio on your Mac or PC
- Connect each device (iThing or aThing) and open Mylio.
- Let images sync. For initial synchronization, mobiles will need to be connected to power. To sync the day’s snapshots can be done on battery.
- Start Luminar Neo or other editors to be used with Mylio’s Open with feature. They just need to be awake and listening for service requests.
I normally import images using Apple Photos. If you find that the date is wonky, Photos will let you select the images and correct the date after import. The images will be tracked as belonging to the most recent import until the next import happens.
If you import the images into Mylio, it will give you the opportunity to correct the date and time.
Editing with Luminar Neo
If you try to edit an image with Luminar using Mylio’s Open with feature, Mylio will start Luminar, tell Luminar to open the image, and continue on its way. Luminar will become the active window but will likely show the last thing edited. Where did the Mylio image go?
By happenstance, I learned that
- Luminar indeed has the image and has added it to the Single Image Edits catalog.
- Luminar may not switch to that catalog and image but goes to its “favorite image”.
- Switch to catalog Single Image Edits and edit the image normally.
- Luminar will keep it and the edit descriptors in the Single Image Edits catalog.
- Closing the circle with Mylio is not currently automatic. Luminar can export any of several image formats to add to the Mylio catalog.
- When using Luminar Neo as a plugin, it returns the edit to Photos. It will not appear in a Luminar Neo catalog.
If you start Luminar Neo before its first use from within Mylio, it will be better behaved. Luminar will correctly open the forwarded image file handle and bring the image up in the editing view.
Adding Luminar Editor Product To Mylio
Luminar will not automatically return edits to Mylio. Rather, you must export edited images to the Mylio directory containing the original.
It appears prudent to make two saves, one giving the derivative image a unique name, say job_session_image.jpg one using the original file name with _display appended to the name, job_session_image_display.jpg. Add the derivative image to the catalog. Mylio will find the display image version and add it.
I put Mylio in the background on the iThings and disconnect them. (They’re connected for power). I find that if left in the foreground, they will run the battery down even when connected as Mylio keeps the display back-light on.
I finish up in Photos and stop Photos. I also stop Luminar and Mylio.
The Real Camera
Mylio does not regard a DSLR as a mobile device. Rather, it is external storage holding images. Mylio does know how to locate the image folders and files of most popular digital cameras, especially popular interchangeable lens cameras. Mylio is also aware of the RAW file formats these cameras use and can convert the RAW image to a preview image.
Mylio seems happiest importing camera images from the camera while connected as USB storage. When importing via USB, the camera will create a folder for each import named with the camera model, year, month, and day. When importing from the card directly mounted as external storage, Mylio appears to toss the images into a folder having the same folder name as source folder on the camera card.
In the past, use of multiple cards has confused other photo managers. I recommend setting the volume name to identify the camera it is used with and a differentiating suffix like A6300-01, A6300-02, etc to help Mylio differentiate sources.
Keeping Raw Files in Apple Photos
Most interchangeable lens cameras can shoot raw as can many premium phones like the iPhone Pro series from Apple and the Samsung Galaxy Pro models. Apple Photos and Mylio both can work with a wide range of RAW file formats. To keep things simple for Apple Photos, select camera file quality RAW only. RAW+JPEG makes one of each for each image taken. Apple Photos App currently runs amok by passing off the JPEG to external editors even when told to use RAW as original image.
Mylio distributes Mylio for MacOS and Windows directly from the product website. The download page will correctly identify your host’s OS and offer the current version.
For your Mac or PC
Mylio for Mac is compiled as a Universal Binary that contains both Intel and Apple Silicon images in the App package. MacOS knows what to do and will run the native image on your desktop device.
For Mobile Devices
Mylio uses the Apple iPhone App Store and the Android Play Store to distribute phone versions.
Apple MacOS App Store Bug
If you have an Apple Silicon Mac, Apple MacOS App store will let you download the iPhone/iPad version of Mylio on MacOS. And MacOS will load it and run it and life appears to be good until you go to add your vault devices. The Phone/Pad version does not do vaults. Use the website desktop version! It is likely, other mobile device inappropriate things have been removed.