Writing this down somewhere I know I can find it again, since it’s the second time I’ve had to teach myself:

iPhoto saves a duplicate of rotated photos, because it saves the original untouched copy of all edited photos, and a rotation counts as an edit. Thank you, iPhoto—hard drive space may be really cheap these days, but not on a laptop.

So, when space gets really tight on my laptop, I start rotating photos before I import them into iPhoto. Actually, since iPhoto ’09 stopped re-organizing photos into folders behind the scenes and just using dates for folder names, I now create folders before importing too.

But, when you edit a JPG, it loses quality. So you need something that does lossless rotation. Enter Xee, a lovely little piece of freeware that is a tad underdocumented.

In Xee, open the first image in the folder. Use cmd-arrow to flip through the images. When you get to one that needs rotating:

  • cmd-R to rotate (or cmd-shift-R to rotate the other way)
  • option-0 to resize the image to the window and see what you’ve got (optional)
  • cmd-S to save losslessly
  • cmd-arrow to go to next image.

This is why I didn’t import photos between late September and Christmas—too much friction in the workflow. Sorry to all those people I was supposed to send photos to in the betweentime. Or between Christmas and April. Yeah, my bad.