No matter how nicely you title, sort, and arrange photos in your digital shoebox, it’s still a shoebox at this point, with all your photos piled together in one vast collection. To really get organized and present your photos to others, you need to arrange your photos into albums.

In iPhoto terminology, an album is a subset of pictures from your Photo Library. It’s a collection of photos that you group for easy access and viewing. Represented by a little album-book icon in the Source list at the left side of the screen, an album can consist of any photos that you select, or it can be a smart album that iPhoto assembles by matching certain criteria that you set up—all pictures that you took in 2003, for example, or all photos that you’ve rated four stars or higher. (If you’ve used smart playlists in iTunes, you’ll recognize the concept.)

While your Photo Library as a whole might contain thousands of photos from a hodgepodge of unrelated family events, trips, and time periods, a photo album has a focus: Steve & Sarah’s Wedding, Herb’s Knee Surgery, and so on.

As you probably know, mounting snapshots in a real photo album is a pain—that’s why so many of us still have stacks of Kodak prints stuffed in envelopes and shoeboxes. But with iPhoto, you don’t need mounting corners, double-sided tape, or scissors to create an album. In the digital world, there’s absolutely no excuse for leaving your photos in hopeless disarray.

Technically, you’re not required to group your digital photos ...

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