Get the most out of iPhoto 08

iPhoto is a practical software application created by Apple to import, edit, organise, print and share your digital photos. Running exclusively on the Mac operating system and bundled with the iLife application suite, the software is intuitive and easy to use. Tasks such as importing photos from a modern digital camera just work and don't require additional drivers or vendor specific programs.

While the software lacks some of the more advanced editing features that professional photographers might enjoy, such as those included in Adobe's Photoshop and Lightroom, or Apple's top shelf product Aperture, it is more than adequate for the majority of users.

In this article we'll skip the basics of iPhoto because we're pretty sure you didn't bother reading the instructions before firing up the program anyway, right? We'll move right on to some of the more advanced features of the program that will help you get more out of the program and make it a stablemate on your Mac dock.

Here's 10 tips to help you get the most out of iPhoto 08:

1. Share your photos online
Publishing your photos for friends and family to see is relatively easy via the iPhoto interface but may take a little bit of tweaking via a plug-in or two depending on the online service you want to use.

The easiest way to publish photos on the Web and manage your galleries is by using Apple's MobileMe service. iPhoto allows one-click publishing straight out of the box to your own hosted area on your MobileMe account. Simply click on the icon at the bottom right of the iPhoto application and it will manage your online galleries from inside iPhoto. If you don't want to share photos of yourself in speedos on your last tropical island holiday to the whole World Wide Web then iPhoto will set up privileges for trusted friends to privately view your shame.

The drawback is that the MobileMe service costs AU$119 per year, which is expensive when competitors are offering services for free. However, this isn't just a hosted photo gallery area, it also offers synchronised calendars, email, contacts, and online space to backup files. If you're the owner of an iPhone you can also sync all of your information easily via this service.

The good folks behind Facebook have created their own plug-in for iPhoto which lets you upload pictures directly to the social network and even tag them. Visit the plug-in site to download, and install the add-on. You'll need to restart iPhoto but when you do you'll notice a new tab option under File -> Export titled "Facebook". Click on this tab and follow the instructions, which will include having to log in to your Facebook account for verification.

Remember where this export function is located as it will be used a few times in this article. The keyboard shortcut is Shift + Command + E.

The Flickr plug-in for iPhoto works much the same way as the Facebook plug-in. The big difference being that Flickr doesn't have an official plug-in for iPhoto users yet and that you'll have to pay around AU$25 from a third-party provider called Connected Flow for the privilege. While it's a useful tool for hardcore Flickr users, we'd recommend using the 30-day trial to see if it's the right plug-in for you.

Unlike Flickr, Google has built a plug-in for iPhoto that connects to its Picasa photo sharing site. To get started you'll need to download the free plug-in and install it, restart iPhoto and click on File -> Export. Here you will see a new tab called Picasa. Do as much or as little editing as you want and upload the pictures you want to share. It's simply too easy.

2. Add Titles, description, keywords and Use Search effectively
In ye olde days we used to write on the back of photographs to remember where we were and what we were doing at the time a photograph was taken. The digital version of this is to add in titles, keywords, ratings, and a description associated to your photos. Once you've uploaded your photos into iPhoto you can add multiple descriptors to each shot by toggling the "i" button on the bottom left of the application.

It's here you can edit a suitable title, insert the date of when the picture was taken, give it a rating out of five, add in keywords, and add a description. Taking the time to do this will result in pictures that are easier to sort and search, and this data will now automatically be associated with your picture no matter where you put it in the future.

3. Get creative with your printed photos
By default iPhoto has a range of options available to create great looking cards, calendars, and even books. The interface is largely drag and drop and requires very little design skill. To get started just click on the "calendar", "book", or "card" icons and follow the user prompts. Once you've finished you'll be prompted to buy your creation. To purchase it you'll need to have an Apple ID account. Most users on a Mac will have a basic account set up already if you purchase iTunes music or when you first set up your Mac. You can enter these details to sync your account.

If you have a decent colour printer you may want to try printing some of these creations yourself. Instead of proceeding to the Apple Check-out, skirt around to File -> Print and try printing your card or calendar. While a card or calendar might be possible to print yourself, depending on what sort of printer you have, a hard cover book might be over the top for many home users.

If you are going to purchase one of these items from Apple, make sure you're using high quality pictures with the highest resolution possible. Low resolution pictures might look OK on a computer screen but will look pixellated on items such as calendars.

4. Sync with your iPod or iPhone
If you've got an iPod that supports photos, or one of the new iPhones then you'll be able to sync your iPhoto pictures to your mobile device with just a few clicks. Connect your iPod or iPhone to your Mac and fire up iTunes. Once iTunes has recognised the device, click on the "Photos" tab and click on the check box that says "sync photos from iPhoto".

You can choose to move all of your photos or just select events or albums. Every time you connect your iPod or iPhone to your Mac it will search for iPhoto albums and sync your data automatically. A word of warning though: you cannot sync your iPod or iPhone with multiple computers. iPhoto will only sync one computer at a time and delete any data from syncing with another computer. While you can easily get around this by manually moving photos to your iPod or iPhone or sync them via the MobileMe service, we agree this is an annoying feature and may lead to losing photos on your digital device.

5. Turn a business presentation into an iPhoto slideshow
If you've made a presentation in Apple's Keynote application or Microsoft PowerPoint you might know that exporting features are usually a bit clunky. If you're looking to make a keynote into a visual slideshow and jazz it up with a bit of audio then you may want to look at importing your files into iPhoto for treatment. Open the Keynote presentation you want to export and choose File -> Send To -> iPhoto. You'll be prompted to check whether you want one, some or all of your slides exported. Select the appropriate choice and decide the level of quality to turn your presentation into. As a rule of thumb, the better the quality, the larger the file size will be. When you're finished with the options click Send and iPhoto will open with your new album. From there you can tweak your slideshow with music, transition effects, and export it into a variety of formats and even share it on the Web.

While not as intuitive, you can do the same thing with your Microsoft PowerPoint presentation. Click on File -> Save as Pictures and the application will export each slide as a picture into one folder. Simply import this folder into iPhoto by clicking File -> Import into Library and create a slideshow.

6. Rock out to your slideshows
Creating slideshows of your adventures is fun but the default music from Apple is anything but cool, unless you like the sound of elevator music. The good news is that you can add your own musical soundtracks to each slideshow.

Open an existing slideshow or create a new one by clicking on the "+" icon on the bottom left of iPhoto. Click on slideshow and give it a suitable name. From there you can drag and drop the images you want to insert into your slideshow. Once you've got all of your images in and tweaked your visual settings to your liking, you can add a song by clicking on the "Music" icon in the task bar (it's the one with the iTunes looking icon). A dialogue box will appear with all of your music in iTunes. Just click on the song you want and it'll be added to your slideshow.

7. Export your photos for your Windows friends
Not everyone can be a hip, cool, and skivvy loving Apple user like you and sharing your photos via iPhoto to your Windows friends, or even your nerdy Linux friends, can be a little tricky.

Other than sharing your photos on the Web as we've discussed above there are a few options at your disposal. Navigate to the "Share" option on the top navigation of iPhoto and you'll be presented with a range of options including Email, send to iDVD, iWeb, and burn to disc. Each of these options are pretty straightforward and should be as easy as following the prompts. However, there are a few other ways to export your iPhoto photos.

Click on File -> Export and you will be able to export each photo individually (for example to a thumb drive or a network drive), create an html Web page of selected photos to upload to your website, or create a Quicktime movie. With all of these options you shouldn't have an excuse to not be able to share your photos with non-Apple friends.

8. Find photo files without iPhoto
Finding the individual files for photos that have been imported to iPhoto can be a hassle since the launch of iPhoto 08 because of a new feature implemented by Apple. In a bid to prevent users from accidentally deleting photos, the library of files isn't accessible via Finder easily. There are two ways to get around this and find the location of photos on your hard drive. The first is to simply right click on the iPhoto application in Finder and select "Show Package Contents" which will expose the files. From here you can navigate to the individual files.

The other way to find where individual photos are stored is to right click a photo in iPhoto and click on "Show File". This will open up Finder to show where the picture is located on the hard drive.

9. Back-up those memories
If you're taking the time to sort your digital photos, it's a good idea to back them up in case of tragedy coming in the way of lost or stolen computers, file corruptions, failed hard disks, and forces of nature such as opening a stirred up bottle of Coke right next to your Mac...

There are a few options at your disposal with iPhoto. You can:

  • Manually copy the "iPhoto library" in Finder to an external hard drive, an online network drive, or a DVD.
  • Copy your photos to a MobileMe account if you have one. Click Share -> MobileMe from the top navigation. You can also use online photo sharing services but just make sure you can keep your photos in their original quality, otherwise your back-ups will be saved in low resolution.
  • Burn select photos to a CD. Select the photos you want to back up and click Share -> Burn to CD
  • Print your photos
  • If you use Apple's Time Machine feature it will automatically back up your iPhoto data along with other personal data on your Mac to your hard drive of choice. This is the best option for those of us who forget important things like back-ups as the technology works in the background without the user really knowing it is happening.

10. Use Smart Albums to aggregate content
Smart Albums are a useful way to aggregate photos according to a number of defined options. For example, you can aggregate folders by date, a certain keyword, description, date, event, rating, and even camera specs used to take the original picture. Aggregating albums by ISO setting or shutter speed can be a fun way to look at your pictures.

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TGB posted a comment   

Very good article with many useful tips.

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