What could be more eagerly awaited than the Apple Watch?

Apple’s new Photos app for OS X, that’s what. And you can have it now for $0.

Venerable iPhoto (yes, I admit calling it a "hairball") has been outmoded for years, and millions have impatiently awaited its replacement since last year when Apple announced that its programmers were hard at work on the new Photos.

Photos is ready for download as part of the OS X 10.10.3 update finished on April 8 and available April 10. The combo update includes iTunes 12.1.2 update which Apple says improves support for syncing photos with iPhone, iPad and iPod touch (be sure to update your iOS devices to iOS v.8.3), and the OS X Yosemite Recovery Update designed to improve reliability when restoring from a Time Machine backup 👍

While the 10.10.3 update brings good things, it may take a little time (about 1 hour) to download, install, and optimize on your system. Tips for doing that smoothly:
  1. Pick a time when you can spare about an hour without the use of your Mac
  2. Quit all apps and allow Time Machine to back up your Mac (you do backup?)
  3. Connect your Mac to the internet via ethernet for speedier downloads than are usually possible over Wi-Fi
  4. Connect MacBooks to AC power
  5. Click your OS X Apple menu  select About This Mac > Overview > Software Update
  6. Click OK when prompted, then declare victory and make cocktails

When the OS X update installation is complete and your Mac restarts you’ll enter your password and log into iCloud. Photos will convert your old iPhoto Library.

When all that is complete click Begin Using Photos.

Initially you may see slightly sluggish performance of your Mac as the upgrade process includes optimization of your system.

It’s all to a good cause. One of which is to upload your precious photos to iCloud. Imagine photos that were once entangled in the iPhoto library on your Mac (or each of your Macs) now being easily accessible on your iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and even your other Macs with Photos installed. That’s good reason for another cocktail.

From there, you’ll need to decide if you want to use iCloud Photo Library or My Photo Stream. With iCloud Photo Library, any picture you take on your iOS device is automatically uploaded to iCloud and imported into Photos.

With My Photo Stream, the most recent 1000 (or the last 30 days, whichever is greater) photos are synchronized across devices only when you connect to Wi-Fi and they’re not stored on iCloud at all.

Manage these settings on your computer or iOS device, confirm that pictures that you want have previously synced with (downloaded from) My Photo Stream. 

On a Mac:
  1. Photos > Preferences > iCloud
  2. Check the iCloud Photo Library box
  3. Click Download Originals to this Mac (OK for Macs with >512 GB storage) or Optimize Mac Storage (better for most MacBooks with ≤512 GB storage)
  4. Uncheck the box marked My Photo Stream
  5. Check the iCloud Photo Library box
  6. Check iCloud Photo Sharing in order to share albums or to subscribe to others’ shared albums

On your iOS device:
  1. Settings > iCloud
  2. Tap Photos, and toggle iCloud Photo Library to on
  3. Select Optimize iPhone (or iPad) Storage
  4. Toggle My Photo Stream off *
  5. Scroll down to see and toggle iCloud Photo Sharing on (in order to share albums or to subscribe to others’ shared albums)

* Delete Photo Stream pictures after confirming that all desired images are already in Photos.
 
   

For more info check out Get started with Photos for OS X at Apple.com.

Please let me know how your upgrade goes. I’ll also be very interested in how you like the new Photos app.