Sony PlayMemories Home on a Macbook Air

Google Picasa is now officially retired, though the cross-platform desktop software photo manager had arguably long been supplanted by apps and online services. With Mac OS X Photos and Windows 10's Photos app receiving plenty of improvements, it's hard to find any reason to install a separate desktop photo manager. 

Note: Linux users have long benefitted from dependable and powerful applications such as Shotwell, DigiKam and gPhoto Manager.

Still, it's nice to see that manufacturers like Sony still provide desktop applications such as Sony PlayMemories Home. Owners of the excellent Sony NEX, A or E-mount series of digital cameras are encouraged to install the application by Sony, which includes the added bonus of access of access to Sony's PlayMemories Online service. However, the application is actually free for everyone even though installation says it "authenticates" during setup.


I've written about the Sony PlayMemories Home for Windows previously. However, the version for Mac OS X is a different application altogether. The software is definitely optional and there's no concrete benefit to Sony PlayMemories Home for Mac OS X other than native support for Sony's RAW file format. Mac OS X Photos is more than adequate although you might need to install other photo software if you want to convert file formats on occasion.

As expected from applications ported from Windows to Mac OS X, Sony PlayMemories Home on El Capitan has fewer features. There are no options to stream to mobile devices and create photo DVDs. You don't even get the benefit of different month, week and yearly views, which is available on the Windows version. Considering that it's freeware though, the Mac OS X includes some fairly useful editing tools:

  1. Multiple edits for speed, captions and audio
  2. Video editing 
  3. Multi-View (works only with supported Sony cameras)
  4. Time-lapse movie creation
  5. MP4 conversion
  6. GPS support
  7. Set external application for editing (an option not available in OS X's Photos)
  8. Camera Network Settings Tool (works only with supported Sony cameras)
  9. Music transfer for slideshows and playback
  10. Print options


Note: My Sony NEX-3NL doesn't support most of the great features such as camera network settings and GPS  so I wasn't able to try these features.


Some users might actually prefer Sony PlayMemories Home over Apple's Photos app. Unfortunately, PlayMemories Home has some performance issues. If you already have an existing photo library that is greater than 40GB, PlayMemories Home will crash repeatedly on first launch. Indexing is slow on a Macbook Air (2015). I would understand application crashes on a Windows 10 machine running on a Celeron processor (such as my Zotac ZBOX Nano), but a Core i5-Air with El Capitan shouldn't struggle as badly. 


Users shouldn't be surprised that PlayMemories Home will rack up more than 80% processing power when it's indexing your photos. To be fair, it's clear that PlayMemories Home for OS X may have been designed for professionals running an iMac or a Macbook Pro with an i7 processor. Moreover, if you only have a small image library or you're installing PlayMemories Home on a clean install of Mac OS X, then PlayMemories should work just fine.


As a final note, serious users would appreciate that Sony regularly updates PlayMemories Home. In fact, updates annoyingly come too regularly for the Windows version, while the Mac OS X version thankfully gets regular notifications for new features and tips for advanced users.



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