O'Reilly logo

iPhoto '11: The Missing Manual by Lesa Snider, David Pogue

Stay ahead with the world's most comprehensive technology and business learning platform.

With Safari, you learn the way you learn best. Get unlimited access to videos, live online training, learning paths, books, tutorials, and more.

Start Free Trial

No credit card required

Introduction

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 or DVD, 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

Apple recognized this mess and 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 10,000 pictures of your kid playing soccer. Just organizing and keeping track of all those 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 or 10, 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, $200 digital asset management program like, say, Apple’s own Aperture or Adobe Photoshop Lightroom.

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 ’11

On the surface, iPhoto ’11 looks much more polished and grown-up than iPhoto ’09, and it now takes advantage of Apple’s Core Animation technology (the brains behind moving graphics in Mac OS X). It also harbors new features designed to make it easier to share your photos with the world:

  • Full Screen view. The most talked-about feature in iPhoto ’11 is the new Full Screen view, which lets iPhoto commandeer each and every pixel on your screen. Enter this mode and everything else on your monitor disappears, including the menu bar. It’s great for eliminating distractions and encourages you to concentrate more fully on the task at hand. The new views are simply gorgeous, whether you’re browsing Events, peering at all the faces you’ve tagged (they appear as Polaroids tacked on a corkboard), or gawking at a full-screen map of all the places you’ve been. If you’re viewing Albums, they appear as stacks just like they do on the iPad, and a beautiful new, pine-paneled Project Bookshelf holds the cards and calendars you’ve created.

  • Online sharing. iPhoto ’09 brought online sharing to the masses, and iPhoto ’11 fine-tunes the process. In this version, you can easily upload photos to an existing Facebook album, Flickr set, or MobileMe gallery, or create a new one on the fly. If you’ve spent time tagging faces or adding descriptions in iPhoto, that info now travels with your photos to Facebook. You can also update your Facebook profile photo from within iPhoto, as well as view the comments your buddies have made about your “My Summer in Maui” pics (you’ll see them in the Info panel).

  • Emailing photos. Emailing photos from within iPhoto got a big overhaul. Instead of handing the task off to your email program, iPhoto now handles everything itself, without even opening your email program. Instead of simply attaching photos to an email (yawn!), you can choose from eight templates that display up to 10 photos in full splendor, complete with brief captions, right in the body of the message. This feature even keeps track of the photo-emails you’ve sent so you can easily edit and resend them to someone new.

    (The old way still works, too. iPhoto can still send out photo files as email attachments in whatever email program you use.)

  • New slideshow themes. The beloved slideshow feature sports six new themes that build on the animated visual styles from iPhoto ’09. The new goodies include Holiday Mobile, in which photos dangle in midair before the viewer’s eyes (crib not included), Reflections, Vintage Prints, Places, and Origami. Each new theme takes advantage of iPhoto’s ability to recognize faces, centering each face it finds. The themes even come with their own soundtracks, and the export option is now optimized for the iPad.

  • Better project design. Apple revamped the way you design books, cards, and calendars, making the process easier and more visually pleasing. Here again, iPhoto takes advantage of its face-detecting skills to center people automatically in the frame, and it even groups photos according to when they were taken. You can still tweak the layout of individual pages, but the smarter-than-ever Autoflow feature works so well that you probably won’t have to do much rearranging.

  • Letterpress cards. These cards are top-of-the-line in every way, from their elegant templates to the super high-quality paper they’re printed on. The sheer joy of holding—not to mention receiving—such a tactile treat is nothing short of extravagant, and it’s a wonderful way to combine Ye Olde Print World with your digital photos.

  • View and trim videos. At long last, you can watch videos captured with your digital camera right in iPhoto. (In previous versions, double-clicking a video opened it up in QuickTime Player for playback.) You can also trim footage from the beginning and end of your clips and then share them to your Facebook wall or MobileMe gallery.

There are other, more subtle changes, too. For example, new menu commands let you rescan photos for faces and places info, and you can copy edits from one photo to another using a keyboard shortcut. The icons at the bottom of the iPhoto window are now a sleek, charcoal gray, and the details about your photo—like the shutter speed and ISO, date taken, Faces and Places info, and so on—are tucked inside a collapsible panel (the Extended Photo Info panel no longer exists). Overall, the entire program looks and feels more streamlined.

In short, there are quite a few changes, so you’ll definitely need a book to keep track—and you’re holding it right now.

About This Book

Don’t let the rumors fool you. iPhoto may be simple, but it’s far from simplistic. It offers a wide range of tools, shortcuts, and database-like features; a complete arsenal of photo-presentation tools; 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 of the program’s features 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: on Facebook or Flickr; as a slideshow; as prints you order online or make yourself; as a professionally printed card or 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 and with other account holders on the same Mac.

  • Part 3, iPhoto Stunts, takes you way beyond the basics. It covers a potpourri of additional iPhoto features, including turning photos into screensavers 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 by burning them to a CD or DVD, and even getting photos to and from smartphones.

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

About→These→Arrows

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 at the top of your monitor, and then choose the Duplicate command.”

About the Online Resources

As the owner of a Missing Manual, you’ve got more than just a book to read. At the Missing Manuals website, you’ll find tips, articles, and other useful info. You can also communicate with the Missing Manual team and tell us what you love (or hate) about this book. Head over to www.missingmanuals.com, or go directly to one of the following sections.

Missing CD

This book doesn’t have a physical CD pasted inside the back cover, but you’re not missing out on anything. Go to www.missingmanuals.com/cds to find a list of all the shareware and websites mentioned in this book as well as Appendix C.

Registration

If you register this book at oreilly.com, you’ll be eligible for special offers—like discounts on future editions. Registering takes only a few clicks. To get started, type http://tinyurl.com/registerbook into your browser to hop directly to the registration page.

Feedback

Got questions? Need more info? Fancy yourself a book reviewer? On our Feedback page, you can get expert answers to questions that come to you while reading, share your thoughts on this Missing Manual, and find groups for folks who share your interest in iPhoto. To have your say, go to www.missingmanuals.com/feedback.

Errata

In an effort to keep this book as up to date and accurate as possible, each time we print more copies, we’ll make any confirmed corrections you’ve suggested. We also note such changes on the book’s website, so you can mark important corrections in your own copy of the book, if you like. Go to http://tinyurl.com/iphotoerrata to report an error and view existing corrections.

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 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, and the ⌘ key may have a Windows logo on it.)

    Note

    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 Magic 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 by clicking the right side of the mouse or by clicking with two fingers instead of one.

    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 Magic 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 quits 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. And if you forget a keyboard shortcut, don’t panic. Just look at the menu item and you’ll see its keyboard shortcut listed to its right. (To see a list of all the keyboard shortcuts in iPhoto ’11, choose Help→Keyboard Shortcuts.)

If you’ve mastered this much information, you have all the technical background you need to enjoy iPhoto ’11: The Missing Manual.

Note

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.

Safari® Books Online

Safari Books Online is an on-demand digital library that lets you easily search over 7,500 technology and creative reference books and videos to find the answers you need quickly.

With a subscription, you can read any page and watch any video from our library online. Read books on your cell phone and mobile devices. Access new titles before they are available for print, and get exclusive access to manuscripts in development and post feedback for the authors. Copy and paste code samples, organize your favorites, download chapters, bookmark key sections, create notes, print out pages, and benefit from tons of other time-saving features.

O’Reilly Media has uploaded this book to the Safari Books Online service. To have full digital access to this book and others on similar topics from O’Reilly and other publishers, sign up for free at http://my.safaribooksonline.com.

With Safari, you learn the way you learn best. Get unlimited access to videos, live online training, learning paths, books, interactive tutorials, and more.

Start Free Trial

No credit card required