Photos for Mac: Add Images to an Album With a Keyboard Shortcut

Posted by Melissa Holt on August 20, 2018
photos for mac

The built-in Photos app in macOS is a great way to organize your photos, and while Apple includes some pretty neat ways to automatically group photos by Places, People, and dates, sometimes nothing beats a manually created photo album.
As you create your albums, the obvious way to add photos to them is by clicking and dragging:
Dragging Image to Add to a Photos Album
If you plan to add lots of images, however, clicking and dragging individual images (or even groups of images) can be a bit time consuming. A quicker and handier way to manage your albums in the Photos app is with keyboard shortcuts. Here’s how it works.

Create a New Album From Selected Photos

If you haven’t yet created the album you want to manage, you can skip the process of adding images after the fact and have your selected images added directly to the new album. To do this, first select one or more images from your Photos browser. With the images selected (outlined in blue), use the keyboard shortcut Command-N. This will create a new album containing your selected photos and ask you to name it in the Photos app sidebar.
new album with selection photos app mac
Normally, pressing Command-N just creates a new empty album. By pre-selecting your images first, it changes the feature as described.
rename album photos app

Add Photos to an Existing Album With a Keyboard Shortcut

Once your new Photo album is created, or if you’re working with an existing photo album, you’ll find an “Add to” option under the Image menu at the top of the screen.
Image Menu to Add to a Photos Album
This option uses the default keyboard shortcut Control-Command-A and adds any selected photos to the last created or modified album. In our example, it’s the album called “Walking.”
So now, select additional images you want to add to your new album and instead of clicking and dragging or using the mouse to select the “Add to” option from the menu bar, simply press Control-Command-A. This will add your selected photos directly to the designated album. If you want to switch things up and add photos to a different album, just open the album from the Photos sidebar and add one or more images manually first. This “Add to” option always selects the most recently accessed album, so it should update accordingly via the keyboard shortcut going forward.
For example, let’s say that you have one album called “Apple” and one called “Microsoft.” If you dragged a picture into “Apple,” the shortcut would continue to add anything you used it on to “Apple” until you switched it up and dragged something into “Microsoft.” At that point, the shortcut would work on “Microsoft” until you dragged something back into “Apple.”
This is a really simple way to populate albums and sort pictures on the Mac. Dragging is fine, but for some people (especially those with limited range of motion), it can be more of a challenge than just memorizing a little shortcut. I like it because it’s faster than dragging, too!

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