Introduction - iPhoto: The Missing Manual, 1st Edition (2014)

iPhoto: The Missing Manual, 1st Edition (2014)


In case you haven’t heard, the digital camera market has exploded. At this point, a staggering 98 percent of cameras sold are digital. 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 email them to friends, post them on the Web, or burn them to CD or DVD. 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 goat during the spring equinox—you ended up with good digital pictures.

A Quick History of iPhoto

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 fast. Before you know it, you have 100,000 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.

To be sure, iPhoto isn’t the most powerful image-management software in the world. Like Apple’s other iProducts (iMovie, iTunes, 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, digital asset management program/pro-level image editor like, say, Apple’s own Aperture ($80) or Adobe Photoshop Lightroom ($150).

Today, millions of Mac fans use iPhoto. And the big news is that you don’t even need a Mac to use iPhoto: In 2012, Apple introduced iPhoto for iOS, which can run on an iPad, iPhone, or iPod Touch. Heck, the new iOS version of iPhoto even lets you do things the desktop version doesn’t, like paint changes onto your photos, upload slideshows to the Web, and create snazzy, customizable online scrapbook-style pages called web journals (see Web Journals). You’ll learn all about iPhoto for iOS in Part 4 of this book.


In the past, Apple added a year abbreviation to iPhoto’s name to help you keep track of each version (like “iPhoto ’11”). But Apple has decided to drop the number, and simply calls the latest version of the program “iPhoto.” If you want to get technical, this book covers iPhoto for Mac version 9.5, and iPhoto for iOS version 2.0.

What’s New in iPhoto for Mac

On the surface, the current version of iPhoto for Mac looks more polished and grown-up than its predecessors. For example, the friendly, full-color icons of versions past have been replaced by more streamlined and sophisticated art. The program is also faster than ever now that it’s 64-bit capable (the box on Demystifying 64-bit explains why), and uses Apple Maps (instead of Google’s) to handle location tags. It also harbors new features that make it shockingly simple to share your photos with the world:

§ iCloud integration. iPhoto sports numerous hooks into iCloud, Apple’s free online storage and syncing service. By flicking a few key switches on your Mac and your iOS gadgets, the last 1,000 photos and videos you take on your iPhone can appear on your Mac and your iPad. Likewise, the last 1,000 photos and videos you imported onto your Mac appear on your iOS gadgets, too. You can also create shared photo streams, which let you invite up to 100 other iCloud members to subscribe, comment on, and even contribute to online albums of photos and videos. And if the person you want to share your photos with doesn’t use iCloud, you can create a beautiful web gallery (Exporting iPhoto Web Pages) to share with him instead.

§ Social media sharing. iPhoto ’09 brought online social media sharing to the masses, and the latest version of iPhoto fine-tunes the process even further. Nowadays, you can easily upload photos and videos to an existing Facebook album or Flickr set, as well as create new albums and sets on the fly. You can also manage privacy settings for the individual items you post onto your Facebook Timeline (previously, you could manage the privacy settings only of albums), and view comments and “likes” in the Info panel. iPhoto also lets you share pictures via instant message using the Mac’s Messages app, as well as post them on Twitter—all from inside iPhoto. The program even keeps track of where you’ve shared your images; just select an image and peek at the Info panel to see where it’s been.

§ Streamlined printing process. Printing in iPhoto used to be fraught with a dizzying array of options like digital matting, borders, and so on. Now, printing your photos is a wonderfully simple, foolproof process that involves a single screen of only the most practical of printing options, such as photo and paper size. You even get a preview of exactly what your print(s) will look like, which keeps you from wasting expensive photo paper and ink.

§ Easier slideshow exporting. Apple revamped the way you export slideshows into a movie. Instead of multiple options, you can now choose from three sizes—480p, 720p, 1080p—and you can send the resulting QuickTime movie to iTunes for syncing onto your iOS devices.

There are other, more subtle changes, too. For example, iPhoto now behaves like a true database program and no longer makes copies of the files you edit; it merely keeps a record of your changes to each photo. That’s a big, big deal that can save you a huge amount of disk space.

Keywords and location tags can now be tucked into the files you export, there are a slew of new card designs, and the process for turning your Mac into the coolest screensaver ever has been simplified, too. Unfortunately, Apple removed the ability to share iPhoto libraries over a network, though this book walks you through some great workarounds.

Overall, the entire program feels more streamlined, and complex tasks like sharing photos, exporting slideshows, and printing (to name a few) just don’t seem very complex anymore. In short, there are quite a few changes, so you’ll definitely need a book to keep track; lucky for you, you’re holding that book right now.

Introducing iPhoto for iOS

These days, iPhoto isn’t just for your Mac—there’s a very similar app for your iPad, iPhone, or iPod Touch, too. The controls are similar, yet different enough to warrant three chapters, new in this edition, devoted solely to iPhoto on your iOS gadgets.

§ Peruse your pictures. It’s incredibly easy to get your pictures into iPhoto for iOS, whether you shot them with your iOS device, synced them onto your device using iTunes, shared them via iCloud, snatched them from an email or instant message, or downloaded them directly onto your iPad from your camera or memory card. iPhoto for iOS organizes your mementos in three handy views: Photos, Albums, and Projects.

§ Compare, flag, and tag photos. iPhoto’s slick comparison feature lets you see multiple shots side by side so you can determine which one is the best. And if you double-tap a thumbnail, iPhoto rounds up all the similar photos in that particular album. You can also add keywords to your pictures, as well as mark some as favorites (handy when you come across a photo that you want to do something special with later, like post it online).

§ Edit your photos. iPhoto for iOS has all the same editing prowess as iPhoto for Mac—and then some. For example, you can use the Brushes tool to paint changes onto a photo in just the spots that need changing (teeth lightening, anyone?). You can also intensify just the blues or greens in your pictures, and/or apply one of nine categories of creative effects like funky edges, color treatments, and trendy filters (including a nifty tilt-shift blur).

§ Share your photos and slideshows. To help get your photographic life online, iPhoto for iOS provides a painless path for posting pictures on Facebook, Flickr, and Twitter, and for sending them via email or instant message. Even more exciting, you can create and post a slideshow online using your iCloud account so that far-flung friends and family can see it. You can also beam or AirDrop photos, videos, and slideshows onto other iOS devices.

§ Create digital scrapbooks with web journals. Another exclusive iPhoto for iOS feature are web journals, which let you include up to 200 pictures in an array of highly customizable, grid-style layouts. By using gestures, you can resize, rearrange, and reposition pictures, as well as add festive visual extras such as maps, Post-it notes, weather reports, and more. You can also add dividing lines and spacers to create exactly the design you want. Once you’re finished, post your journal online using iCloud, beam or AirDrop it onto another iOS device, or export it as HTML files using iTunes.

§ Order photo books and prints. iPhoto for iOS also lets you design and order hardcover photo books and prints in a variety of sizes. The print-ordering process is incredibly well designed and gives you some neat, non-standard size options. And if you’ve got a wireless printer on your network, you can print straight from your iOS device.

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 sparse electronic help screens.

This book was born to serve as the definitive iPhoto manual. It explores each of the program’s features in depth, offers shortcuts and workarounds, provides helpful tips, and unearths features that the online help never mentions.

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 five parts, each containing several chapters:

§ Part 1, covers the fundamentals of getting your pictures into iPhoto for Mac. This includes getting photos off your cameras and smartphones, filing them, associating them with people and places, and searching them.

§ Part 2, is all about how to get your photos looking their best and how to show them off. It covers the many ways iPhoto for Mac can present your photos to other people: on iCloud as a shared photo stream; on Facebook, Flickr, or Twitter; as an instant message; as a slideshow; as prints you order online or make yourself; as a professionally printed card or book; by email; or as a slideshow exported as a QuickTime movie that you post online, share via iCloud, send to your iPhone, distribute on DVD, or sync with your Apple TV. It also covers workarounds for sharing your iPhoto collection across a network with other Macs and with other account holders on the same Mac.

§ Part 3, covers a potpourri of additional iPhoto features, including turning photos into screensavers or desktop pictures on your Mac; scripting tasks using Automator; exporting the photos in various formats; managing (and even switching) iPhoto libraries; and backing up your photos using external hard drives, Time Machine, or by burning them to a CD or DVD.

§ Part 4, covers everything you need to know about using iPhoto on your iPad, iPhone, or iPod Touch, including syncing, browsing, organizing, and managing albums (iPhoto creates several albums automatically). You’ll also master the controls for basic and advanced editing, have tons of fun with Instagram-style filters, as well as create slideshows, web journals (gorgeous, customizable web galleries), book projects, and prints.

§ Part 5, brings up the rear, but gives you a chance to move forward. Appendix A offers troubleshooting guidance, and Appendix B lists some very helpful websites that will help fuel your growing addiction to digital photography and image editing. The remaining two appendixes are available from this book’s Missing CD page at Appendix C goes through iPhoto for Mac’s menus one by one to make sure that every last feature has been covered, and Appendix D shows you how to use the now-retired iDVD to make incredible slideshow DVDs.


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, “In iPhoto for Mac, 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, 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 to find a list of all the shareware and websites mentioned in this book, as well as Appendixes C and D.


If you register this book at, you’ll be eligible for special offers—like discounts on future editions. Registering takes only a few clicks. Type into your browser to hop directly to the registration page.


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


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 to report an error and to 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 Mac 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. 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 (it’s 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.)

§ 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 for Mac, choose Help→Keyboard Shortcuts.)

§ Touchscreen basics. On an iOS device (an iPad, iPhone, or iPod Touch), you do everything on the touchscreen instead of with physical buttons. You’ll do a lot of tapping on the screen, and navigate by swiping your finger across the screen (say, to move from viewing one album, Event, or photo to the next). You drag by sliding your finger across the glass in any direction.

A flick is a faster, less-controlled drag. You flick vertically to scroll through lists of photos, say. You’ll discover—usually with some expletive like “Whoa!” or “Jeez!”—that scrolling a list in this way is a blast. The faster you flick, the faster the list spins up or down. And lists have real-world momentum: They slow down after a second or two, so you can see where you wound up.

Last but not least, you can zoom in on a photo or map by spreading—that’s when you place two fingers (usually thumb and forefinger) on the glass and then spread them apart. The image magically grows as though it’s printed on a sheet of rubber. Once you’ve zoomed in like this, you can zoom out again by putting two fingers on the glass and pinching them together.

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


Apple has officially changed what it calls the little menu that pops up when you Control-click (or right-click) something on your Mac. 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 the name of the corresponding Windows feature, but it’s slightly more descriptive about its function. “Shortcut menu” is the term you’ll find in this book.


In OS X, shortcut menus are more important than ever.

They’re so important, in fact, that it’s worth this ink and this paper to explain the different ways you can trigger a “right-click” (or a secondary click, as Apple calls it, because not all of these methods actually involve a second mouse button, and it doesn’t have to be the right one).

§ Control-click. For years, you could open the shortcut menu of something on the Mac screen by Control-clicking it—and you still can. That is, while pressing the Control key (bottom row), click the mouse on your target.

§ Right-click. Experienced computer fans have always preferred the one-handed method: right-clicking. That is, clicking something by pressing the right mouse button on a two-button mouse.

Every desktop Mac since late 2005 has come with a two-button mouse—but you might not realize it. Take a look: Is it a white, shiny plastic capsule with a tiny, gray scrolling track pea on the far end? Then you have a Mighty Mouse. Is it a cordless, flattened capsule instead? Then it’s a Magic Mouse. Each has a secret right mouse button. It doesn’t work until you ask for it.

To do that, choose →System Preferences. Click Mouse. There, in all its splendor, is a diagram of the Mighty or Magic Mouse.

Your job is to choose Secondary Button from the pop-up menu that identifies the right side of the mouse. (The reason it’s not called a “right button” is because left-handers might prefer to reverse the right and left functions.)

From now on, even though there aren’t two visible mouse buttons, your Mighty Mouse does, in fact, register a left-click or a right-click depending on which side of the mouse you push down. It works a lot more easily than it sounds like it would.

(Another idea: You can also attach any old $6 USB two-button mouse to the Mac, and it’ll work flawlessly. Recycle the one from your old PC, if you like.)

§ Use the trackpad. If you have a trackpad (a laptop, for example), you can trigger a right-click in all kinds of ways.

Out of the box, you do it by clicking the trackpad with two fingers. The shortcut menu pops right up.

Or you can point to whatever you want to click. Rest two fingers on the trackpad—and then click with your thumb.

But even those aren’t the end of your options. In System Preferences→Trackpad, you can also turn on even more right-click methods (and watch little videos on how to do them). For example, you can “right-click” by clicking either the lower-right or lower-left corner of the trackpad—one finger only.

In this book, rather than repeating those paragraphs of “101 ways to right-click” instructions over and over, we’ll just say “Control-click.” You now know that that can also mean “right-click” (if you have a desktop Mac) or “two-finger click” (if you have a trackpad).