How do you Mylio? - What I do

Here’s what I do, so far, in case anyone is interested.

Photography has been a hobby for most of my adult life, and most of my images are family - mainly grandchildren, now - but I also take landscapes and make other kinds of image when I get the opportunity. My new images are a mixture of Raw+JPEG from Micro-4/3rds interchangeable lens cameras, JPEG from a good compact camera, and a few iPhone images.

I have only been using Mylio seriously since January 2020, after a test run during overseas travel in December 2019. Mylio now acts as the asset manager for all my new images as well as my finished older images, which are synchronised across Mac desktops, Macbooks, and iOS devices. My aim is to make sure everything is secure against storage loss or computer failure, easy to pick up by someone else in the family when I end up pushing up daisies, and automated as much as possible (I used to work in the IT world). My family is spread around the world, and we have used OneDrive for photo sharing for several years, mainly because it has a free Terabyte per Office 365 user.

Mylio setup
My Mylio setup has four vaults. The desktop I use when at home has a vault on an external drive; my old desktop (which I keep in case the newer one fails) also has a vault on an external drive. I have an old laptop that lives in a separate garage acting as a semi-offsite vault, and the iPad Pro is also a vault (I have around 85,000 images in Mylio taking 300GB - the iPad has 1TB). The entire set of final and original images are also separately copied off-site four times a year, using a set of external drives in rotation.

Photo processing
The iPhone images are transferred from iCloud by Mylio’s importer on my iPhone.

If I am at home, everything else is copied from the camera card to a backup location and to Mylio on my Mac desktop using a script that renames the images to prefix the date and time to the original camera’s filename (as YYYY_MMDD_HHMM_SSsss, where sss is subseconds to identify images within bursts on modern cameras).

If I am not at home, I import direct to Mylio on my iPad Pro, using a custom rename string that substitutes a 3-digit serial number instead of the subseconds, since that is unavailable in Mylio; I don’t delete the images from the camera card until a backup has been taken externally to Mylio.

This image file naming format arose because long ago I needed computers to sort image files by capture date regardless of original camera filename (or original scan filename for film images). The subseconds part was added when I first got a camera that would shoot bursts of several images within a second.

After importing to Mylio, I assign metadata in bulk - titles, various keywords, and locations. The keywords include a topic identifier that is duplicated as a ‘fake person’ so that Mylio’s event filters can see it.

I rate the images using stars, and label them according to who will be interested - family, just me, other photographers, etc.

I use the keyboard a lot while rating and culling. There are times when Mylio’s cross-platform nature slows the workflow by requiring mouse usage, so I have developed extra keyboard actions using Better Touch Tool on my desktop computer that avoid having to move my hand to the trackpad to turn view filtering on or off, or to select ratings and labels being filtered for. (Unfortunately, these depend on the location of the buttons on the screen, so there’s not much point in sharing them. I wish Mylio’s UI was a bit less wasteful of space on big screens - it would be much better to have stars, labels and flag status all visible at the same time in the filtering bar. I know this wouldn’t work on a phone screen, of course.)

Next, I filter for the non-reject images and optimise them using Mylio’s image editor if it can, or else an external editor - usually Exposure X, but sometimes Luminar, Aurora HDR, Raw Power, or Affinity Photo depending on what is needed. The exported image from the external editor gets a _display suffix on the filename so that Mylio displays it instead of the original. Family snaps are usually fine with Mylio’s editor, other stuff needs a more capable editor.

Sometimes I revise the ratings and other metadata at this point.

Finally I export the images as JPEG to an Exports folder, and run another script that renames the images to replace the original camera filename part with the image title (retaining the date/time part at the beginning), and then saves them in my Finals folder hierarchy using the year and topic keyword previously mentioned as the folder names. Images destined for family use are automatically reduced in size and copied to a shared location in OneDrive, again using the year and topic identifier keyword as folder names. OneDrive then replicates them to family members.

Older images
For pre-2020 images, Mylio has the final JPEGs from my previous asset manager, which was Exposure X (I moved to Mylio for asset management because of its speed and cross-platform features), from Aperture before that (which I miss terribly, but it was old and also lacked cross-platform support), and from Digikam before that. The older originals (around 180,000 - I find it really hard to throw anything away) are stored on the same external drives as Mylio uses, but not imported to Mylio; I use NeoFinder to catalogue them. This means I can maintain and search metadata for the older finals using Mylio, and if I need to re-process an older original for some reason, NeoFinder will quickly locate it. I had to do that recently for ten or so final images that had become corrupt at some time in the past. Most of the scripting and folder naming was originally designed to work with Aperture, and has evolved gradually since then to save me time.

Image browsing
I love Mylio’s ability to browse on any device, using the same filtering and searching everywhere, and being able to fix metadata or make other changes anywhere. When I want to locate particular images in Mylio, I generally have the year in mind, and since Mylio lacks smart albums I use events in the calendar view to find them. For older images, these events are based on topical folders, but newer images are in folders based on capture date. Some of my events last all year and have filters with the ‘fake people’ mentioned above to avoid mixing up images from different places, such as overseas parts of the family that we visit often. These filters automatically pick up metadata changes, and the result is a bit like a smart album. I also have named faces, but I rarely use face recognition for finding images.

I print a few images, and generally use Affinity Photo for that since it can do soft proofing.


Since I wrote the above account, I have increased my use of ‘fake people’ to facilitate filtering. I wish it were different, but Mylio does not offer a filter based on keywords, so I have added ‘fake people’ duplicating various keywords to make certain kinds of image filterable, such as landscapes, HDR, and externally-edited images (and sometimes these attributes overlap). The common fakes get a name beginning with ‘@’ (and I think of these as contexts), so they are shown before ordinary people, and the rare ones start with ‘~’ to put them at the end of the list. I experimented with using categories rather than fake people for this purpose, but the category editor presently makes it hard to do in bulk at the image level (it should work more like the keyword editor, I believe).

I am using categories to supplement the (rather limited) time filter, with a category for each year from 2000 on, each decade of my life before that, and a historical category for even older images. For image management, as opposed to looking at old images with others, I find these more useful than the calendar view. These categories are all inherited from the folder structure. Category operations are not represented in the sidecars as far as I can see, which makes them much faster to use than setting the flag, so I have a couple of flag categories for temporary use as well. I have hit the limit of 50 categories, and wish for more.

All this allows me to use filtered ‘All Photo’ views rather than navigating the folder hierarchy as I used to do, which is slowed down by the lack of a navigation sidebar giving rapid access to certain folders well down in the hierarchy. On my Macs I circumvented this with extra keyboard shortcuts as described above, but this new way of using filtered views works on all my devices.

I am sure this will continue to evolve over time! I love the way Mylio replicates so rapidly over the local network, its cross-platform nature, and its responsiveness on the screen.


I am new to Mylio and didn’t realize you couldn’t create a filter using keywords. I see that you can search for photos based on keyword, but I don’t see a way to do a search based on multiple keywords.

Am I right in saying there is no way to perform a search or create a filter based on multiple keywords? e.g., “Beach” AND “Dog”?


Fortunately, you CAN do this. It’s not obvious in the UI or support documents, but a search for ‘keyword:Beach,Dog’ will do the AND search you want. You can get a list of known keywords in the Dashboard area. Searching using ‘keyword:’ does a fuzzy search, and ‘keywordexact:’ does what you would expect. There is a search history and searches can be pinned for reuse in the history, but unfortunately it’s nowhere near as convenient to use as filtering. I haven’t found a way to do an OR search for keywords, without resorting to flagging the results of multiple searches, so I add broader keywords such as ‘Pets’ which includes ‘Dog’ and ‘Cat’ (sort of like hierarchic keywords in other apps). There is work going on in this area at the moment - see this thread.

The relevant support pages are and

[Updated post to replace the mistaken original ‘keywordexact:Beach,Dog’ with ‘keyword:Beach,Dog’, in case others try it without reading further down the thread. While this works for me, it may be that my keyword usage avoids unwanted overlaps with this. The separator is a comma, not a full stop/period.]

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Thanks for pointing out the keyword/keywordexact syntax and the other thread @aearenda. Doesn’t look like the keywordexact modifier is even documented (or if it is I missed it). I’m also glad to see (in the thread you linked to) that Mylio knows this area needs improvement and appears to be working on it.


Hmm, I can’t get this to work. It’s hard to tell from this forum’s fancy fonts, but I note that you have a comma in between Beach and Dog below (not a period). Is this the correct syntax?


The only way I could figure out to get a true “AND” search on keywords is to resort to SQL pass-thru commands:

media:"(KeywordsStr LIKE '%Beach%') AND (KeywordsStr LIKE '%Dog%')"

Unsupported - use at your own risk, not guaranteed to work.

Looks like my mistake - try ‘keyword:Beach,Dog’. Yes, it’s a comma - and it is hard to tell the difference! [I have updated the post above to correct it, in case anyone tries it without reading further.]

Thanks! This is both a weakness and a strength of Mylio - a weakness, because we have to resort to SQL, and strength because we can use SQL!

[Update: I tried the SQL version and it gives the same results as my keywords: version. I guess they both do the same thing - test the combined keyword string for substring presence - which means there can be ambiguity depending on keyword names, and that ambiguity can be exploited - for example, if I have images keyworded Rupert_Dog and Rory_Dog, ‘Dog’ will find them all.

I experimented with keywordexact - if I put keywordexact:"Rory_Dog, Rupert_Dog" (with a comma and a space) it works, but only because keywords are sorted alphabetically and so these two keywords are next to each other. Reversing the order makes it fail. In other words, the substring “Rory_Dog, Rupert_Dog” must be found exactly like that in the keywords string for the image to be picked up.]

Thanks, yes - that seems to work:


Way simpler. Please ignore my horribly complicated SQL workaround :slight_smile:

Yes, my version is just a simple substring pattern search. Your keyword: command however does seem to at least look for “delimited” words. I think the Rupert_Dog example happens to match Dog because the underscore is a delimiter. For example the following:


DOES NOT find any photos containing the keyword “Sculpture”.

Many of my keywords from lightroom have spaces, which Mylio treats as a delimiter. This search:


DOES find all my photos with keyword of “Mount Rainier”.

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Good insight, thanks! I hadn’t thought of the underline as a delimiter. I wish all this was more thoroughly documented.

I think this gives a way to simulate hierarchical keywords.

It’s over a year since I wrote the article that started this thread, but I notice people are still reading it, so here is what has changed recently:

  • Now that we have custom filters that can include keywords, I have stopped using ‘fake people’ (thank you, Mylio team!)
  • I have reduced my use of categories as well, since I was using some of them for date filtering (also now greatly improved) and others for things that duplicated keywords. This has resolved my problem with needing more categories than Mylio has.
  • Mylio now supports the raw format of all my cameras (thank you again!), so I have turned off raw+JPEG and only import raws.
  • I routinely optimise ‘keeper’ images using an external image editor, and track which one in Mylio using keywords. (I use Mylio for the ‘rate and cull’ stage before optimising the keepers; and sometimes I compare the results from different external editors using Mylio, since it is so fast at browsing between images).
  • All my ‘finished’ images have the flag set, so that I can easily find new images in any view by filtering for unflagged items.
  • I have reduced the number of vaults (devices holding all originals) to 2, to simplify syncing; one of these is my main desktop, the other an external drive attached to that desktop. Other devices I use sync all previews instead, which is faster. I still have multiple backups of everything onsite and offsite.
  • On the iPad Pro, which I use when travelling, I keep new images in the Inbox until I have finished with external editing, to streamline passing images between apps. The external editor I use on the iPad is Lightroom - Mylio can send the raws directly to Lr, and I save the optimised JPEG exports from Lr to Files, batch rename them to add the _display suffix using File Browser Pro, and send them back to Mylio from there so they get stacked with the originals, all on the iPad.

Mylio has clearly improved greatly over this period, as far as my usage is concerned! But there are things I still wish for:

Most of these are the subject of existing feature requests, some of which I’ve linked above (not all of them seem to have colour highlighting for some reason), and I hope any further discussion of them will occur in their respective threads rather than here.

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I tried the mylio-on-ipad thing on a trip last year and I’ve just come to the conclusion because of limitations that apple puts on iOS itself, mylio will have a hard time being as performant as an equivalent macbook. I tried doing the same things again with my old 2014 macbook and everything was just much faster due to better SD card i/o and the ability to do background processing without restrictions, even though the CPU and GPU was weaker or about even according to geekbench.

Nowadays I just travel with the M1 macbook air and it’s been working great. I use synergy + a tb3 cable and it’s a better second screen than using ipad sidecar. Also iPad+keyboard is heavier than an actual macbook air : Apple’s bigger iPad Pro with Magic Keyboard weighs more than a MacBook Air - The Verge.

And I think the iPad now is going to get macos one day, so I dunno how much it’s worth it for mylio corp to focus on ipad power user features other than small things like keyboard buttons: Put macOS on the iPad, you cowards - The Verge

If the M1 Macbook had come out a year earlier, that’s what I would be doing. Next year, I’ll be replacing the iPad, hopefully with a M-series MacBook with an SD-card slot!