In case you haven’t heard, the digital camera market is exploding. At this point, a staggering 98 percent of cameras sold are digital cameras. It’s taken a few decades—the underlying technology used in most digital cameras was invented in 1969—but film photography has been reduced to a niche activity.

And why not? The appeal of digital photography is huge. When you shoot digitally, you don’t pay a cent for film or photo processing. You get instant results, viewing your photos just moments after shooting them, making even Polaroids seem painfully slow by comparison. As a digital photographer, you can even be your own darkroom technician—without the darkroom. You can retouch and enhance photos, make enlargements, and print out greeting cards using your home computer. Sharing your pictures with others is far easier, too, since you can burn them to CD, email them to friends, or post them on the Web. As one fan puts it, “There are no ‘negatives’ in digital photography.”

But there is one problem. When most people try to do all this cool stuff, they find themselves drowning in a sea of technical details: JPEG compression, EXIF tags, file format compatibility, image resolutions, FTP clients, and so on. It isn’t pretty.

The cold reality is that while digital photography is full of promise, it’s also been full of headaches. During the early years of digital cameras, just making the camera-to-computer connection was a nightmare. You had to mess with serial or USB cables; install device drivers; and use proprietary software to transfer, open, and convert camera images into a standard file format. If you handled all these tasks perfectly—and sacrificed a young male goat during the spring equinox—you ended up with good digital pictures.

iPhoto Arrives

iPhoto Arrives

Apple recognized this mess and finally decided to do something about it. When Steve Jobs gave his keynote address at Macworld Expo in January 2002, he referred to the “chain of pain” that ordinary people experienced when attempting to download, store, edit, and share their digital photos.

He also focused on another growing problem among digital photographers: Once you start shooting free, filmless photos, they pile up quickly. Before you know it, you have 6,000 pictures of your kid playing soccer. Just organizing and keeping track of all these photos is enough to drive you insane.

Apple’s answer to all these problems was iPhoto, a simple and uncluttered program designed to organize, edit, and distribute digital photos without the nightmarish hassles. Successive versions added features and better speed. (There was no iPhoto 3, oddly enough. Keep that in mind if someone tries to sell you a copy on eBay.)

To be sure, iPhoto isn’t the most powerful image management software in the world. Like Apple’s other iProducts (iMovie, iTunes, iDVD, and so on), its design subscribes to its own little 80/20 rule: 80 percent of us really don’t need more than about 20 percent of the features you’d find in a full-blown, $300 digital asset management program like, say, Apple’s own Aperture.

Today, millions of Mac fans use iPhoto. Evidently, there were a lot of digital camera buffs out there, feeling the pain and hoping that iPhoto would provide some much-needed relief.

What’s New in iPhoto ’09

On the surface, iPhoto ’09 doesn’t look much different from iPhoto ’08. It does, however, harbor some new features, many of them designed to personalize your photos and to make it easier to share them with the world:

  • Faces. The most talked-about feature in iPhoto ’09 is Faces, a new component of the program that analyzes your photos and groups your collections based on the people who are in them.

    When you turn Faces loose on your photos, iPhoto sweeps through your photo library, methodically examining any clump of pixels that looks like it might be a human face. Once iPhoto has detected faces in the photos, it singles them out and invites you to put names to those mugs: Mom, Sweetie, Chris, and so on. Once you do, the program recognizes these same people in other photos. From now on, you have one-click shopping for pictures of a specific person.

  • Places. Plotting photos on an electronic map is all the rage these days. With its Places feature, iPhoto ’09 offers you the power of Google Maps and a whole box of little virtual map pins to show off your travels. Even if you don’t have a camera that automatically slaps GPS coordinates onto every photo you snap, you can still use the tools within Places to mark your spot on the map.

    Once you get some photos tagged to geographical locations, Places lets you look them up based on where they were taken—either on your own personalized map (“Grandma’s house,” for example) or neatly sorted by country, state, town, or landmark.

  • Travel maps. Apple has given iPhoto ’09 a set of stylish new map pages that you can incorporate into printed photo books. These maps can be fully customized to show every city you visited, say, on that tour of French Canada, complete with little red arrows showing your route to Québec City and back. Maps give context to the photos, and they look really cool. It’s like Rand McNally went along for the ride.

  • New slideshow themes. The beloved slideshow feature from the iPhotos of Yore has gotten a major makeover in this latest version of the program. Themes—animated visual slideshow styles—debut in iPhoto ’09. The traditional slideshow option, with its lengthy choice of Hollywood-esque transitions between photos, is still here, now called Classic. That beloved documentary-style pan-and-zoom effect to bring still photos to life has remained as, of course, the Ken Burns theme.

  • Slideshow Export. The new slideshow themes may make you even more determined to show off your pictures-in-motion, and Apple makes it easier than ever to do in iPhoto ’09. The new Slideshow Export feature lets you pop out a traveling copy of your iPhoto opus as a QuickTime movie, perfectly sized for a variety of different screens. With just a couple of clicks, you can export the slideshow for an iPhone, iPod, Apple TV, Web page, or even a big screen—and not worry about the video looking grainy or blotchy. Your pal iPhoto finds the resolution solution automatically.

  • Online sharing. iPhoto ’09 brings online sharing to the masses—including the bazillions of people using Flickr (the largest photo Web site) and Facebook (the most popular “all about me” Web site). Choose some photos and then hit the Facebook or Flickr buttons: You’ve just published them online. Make changes to the photos on either the Web or in iPhoto, and the updates sync up to the other location.

    Flickr and Facebook members can take advantage of iPhoto’ other new features as well. Spent all afternoon naming your friends in Faces? Those name tags you apply in iPhoto follow the photos over to Facebook, saving you the trouble of tagging them again online. And those locations you linked to your Places photos take their geographical information with them—so you don’t have to fiddle around pinpointing them all over again on your Flickr map.

  • Goosed-up editing. The editing tools in iPhoto have been supercharged, thanks to underlying technology swiped from Aperture (Apple’s professional photo program). For example, you can now intensify the saturation of the colors in a photo without affecting skin tones. When you eliminate scratches or zits with the Retouch tool, iPhoto no longer blurs things (like clothing borders) that shouldn’t be blurred. And the Red-Eye tool now exploits face recognition, so it knows what’s an eye and what’s not.

In short, there are so many changes, you’d practically need a book to keep track—and you’re holding it.

About This Book

Don’t let the rumors fool you. iPhoto may be simple, but it isn’t simplistic. It offers a wide range of tools, shortcuts, and database-like features; a complete arsenal of photo-presentation features; and sophisticated multimedia and Internet hooks. Unfortunately, many of the best techniques aren’t covered in the only “manual” you get with iPhoto—its slow, sparse electronic help screens and videos.

This book was born to serve as the iPhoto manual—the book that should have been in the box. It explores each iPhoto feature in depth, offers shortcuts and workarounds, and unearths features that the online help doesn’t even mention.

And to make it all go down easier, this book has been printed in full color. Kind of makes sense for a book about photography, doesn’t it?

About the Outline

This book is divided into four parts, each containing several chapters:

  • Part 1, iPhoto Basics, covers the fundamentals of getting your photos into iPhoto. This includes organizing and filing them, tagging them with a face or a place, searching them, and editing them to compensate for weak lighting (or weak photography).

  • Part 2, Meet Your Public, is all about the payoff, the moment you’ve been waiting for since you snapped the shots—showing them off. It covers the many ways iPhoto can present those photos to other people: as a slideshow; as prints you order from the Internet or make yourself; as a professionally published gift book; on a Web page; by email; or as a QuickTime slideshow that you post on the Web, send to your iPhone, or distribute on DVD. It also covers sharing your iPhoto collection across an office network with other Macs, with other account holders on the same Mac, and with other iPhoto fans across the Internet.

  • Part 3, iPhoto Stunts, takes you way beyond the basics. It covers a miscellaneous potpourri of additional iPhoto features, including turning photos into screen savers or desktop pictures on your Mac, exporting the photos in various formats, using iPhoto plug-ins and accessory programs, managing (or even switching) iPhoto libraries, backing up your photos using iPhoto’s Burn to CD command, and even getting photos to and from cameraphones and Palm organizers.

  • Part 4, Appendixes, brings up the rear, but gives you a chance to move forward. Appendix A offers troubleshooting guidance, Appendix B goes through iPhoto’s menus one by one to make sure that every last feature has been covered, and Appendix C lists some Web sites that will help fuel your growing addiction to digital photography.


Throughout this book, and throughout the Missing Manual series, you’ll find sentences like this one: “Open the System folder→Libraries→Fonts folder.” That’s shorthand for a much longer instruction that directs you to open three nested folders in sequence. That instruction might read: “On your hard drive, you’ll find a folder called System. Open it. Inside the System folder window is a folder called Libraries. Open that. Inside that folder is yet another one called Fonts. Double-click to open it, too.”

Similarly, this kind of arrow shorthand helps to simplify the business of choosing commands in menus. The instruction “Choose Photos→Duplicate” means, “Open the Photos menu, and then choose the Duplicate command.”


At, you’ll find news, articles, and updates to the books in this series.

But if you click the name of this book and then the Errata link, you’ll find a unique resource: a list of corrections and updates that have been made in successive printings of this book. You can mark important corrections right into your own copy of the book, if you like.

In fact, the same page offers an invitation for you to submit such corrections and updates yourself. In an effort to keep the book as up-to-date and accurate as possible, each time we print more copies of this book, we’ll make any confirmed corrections you’ve suggested. Thanks in advance for reporting any glitches you find!

In the meantime, we’d love to hear your suggestions for new books in the Missing Manual line. There’s a place for that on the Web site, too, as well as a place to sign up for free email notification of new titles in the series.

The Very Basics

You’ll find very little jargon or nerd terminology in this book. You will, however, encounter a few terms and concepts that you’ll see frequently in your Macintosh life. Here are the essentials:

  • Clicking. To click means to point the arrow cursor at something onscreen and then—without moving the cursor at all—press and release the clicker button on the mouse (or laptop trackpad). To double-click, of course, means to click twice in rapid succession, again without moving the cursor at all. And to drag means to move the cursor while keeping the button continuously pressed.

    When you’re told to ⌘-click something, you click while pressing the ⌘ key (next to the space bar). Shift-clicking, Option-clicking, and Control-clicking work the same way—just click while pressing the corresponding key on your keyboard. (On non-U.S. Mac keyboards, the Option key may be labeled “Alt” instead.)


    On Windows PCs, the mouse has two buttons. The left one is for clicking normally; the right one produces a tiny shortcut menu of useful commands (see the note below). But new Macs come with Apple’s Mighty Mouse, a mouse that looks like it has only one button but can actually detect which side of its rounded front you’re pressing. If you’ve turned on the feature in System Preferences, then you too can right-click things on the screen.

    That’s why, all through this book, you’ll see the phrase, “Control-click the photo (or right-click it).” That’s telling you that Control-clicking will do the job—but if you’ve got a two-button mouse or you’ve turned on the two-button feature of the Mighty Mouse, right-clicking might be more efficient.

  • Keyboard shortcuts. Every time you take your hand off the keyboard to move the mouse, you lose time and potentially disrupt your creative flow. That’s why many experienced Mac fans use keystroke combinations instead of menu commands wherever possible. ⌘-P opens the Print dialog box, for example, and ⌘-M minimizes the current window to the Dock.

    When you see a shortcut like ⌘-Q (which closes the current program), it’s telling you to hold down the ⌘ key, and, while it’s down, type the letter Q, and then release both keys.


Apple has officially changed what it calls the little menu that pops up when you Control-click (or right-click) something on the screen. It’s still a contextual menu, in that the menu choices depend on the context of what you click—but it’s now called a shortcut menu. That term not only matches what it’s called in Windows, but it’s slightly more descriptive about its function. “Shortcut menu” is the term you’ll find in this book.

If you’ve mastered this much information, you have all the technical background you need to enjoy iPhoto ’09: The Missing Manual.

Safari® Books Online

When you see a Safari® Books Online icon on the cover of your favorite technology book, that means the book is available online through the O’Reilly Network Safari Bookshelf.

Safari offers a solution that’s better than e-Books. It’s a virtual library that lets you easily search thousands of top tech books, cut and paste code samples, download chapters, and find quick answers when you need the most accurate, current information. Try it free at

Get iPhoto '09: The Missing Manual now with O’Reilly online learning.

O’Reilly members experience live online training, plus books, videos, and digital content from 200+ publishers.