Using iPhoto 1.0: Part 1 with Mac OS

January's Mac Expo saw the debut of more than just sexy new hardware such as the flat screen G4 iMac - also announced was Apple's latest addition to the iTools utility family, iPhoto. Aimed at making it easier to transfer images from external devices such as digital cameras to your Mac, iPhoto will help you to view, organise and share your photos in a variety of ways. Depending on your Mac's memory, iPhoto can store 1000 to 2000 photos.


In order to run iPhoto (which is a free download from, make sure you have a Mac with built-in USB for your compatible photo device. Be sure to check the compatibility list at OS X 10.1.2 or later is also listed as a requirement, but I was able to run the program on OS X 10.1 - albeit with a caution to upgrade to 10.1.2.


After installation, iPhoto will install to your applications folder. Select your hard disk icon, navigate to your applications folder and open iPhoto. Upon first starting the program, you may be asked if you wish to have iPhoto start automatically when a digital camera or the like is detected. The application called Image Capture that comes supplied with OS X already allows you to import pictures from your digital camera, but electing to use iPhoto will allow you to take advantage of its extra features. You can change which program will activate upon detection of a digital camera by navigating to your applications folder, opening Image Capture and selecting your program of choice above the text reading 'application to open when camera is detected'. If you are using a digital camera, be sure to turn on your camera and set it to transfer mode.


Your digital camera is not the only device from which you can import pictures into iPhoto: you can also import from a memory card reader, CD or floppy disk, or even import photos that may be lying around on your hard disk. Also, don't forget that if your photos were taken with a non-digital camera, you're still able to scan the images into your Mac or even pay a photo development shop to digitise the images for you.

To import, pull down the File menu and select Import (or you can use -I). Once you've imported your photos, you should find that thumbnails of each image are displayed. You may also notice that the different mode areas of iPhoto can be navigated via the worded icons in the bottom centre of the program. These modes include Import, Organize, Edit, Book and Share. In any of these sections, you can enlarge or reduce the size of the thumbnails by using the left-right scroll located towards the bottom right of iPhoto. This collection of thumbnails becomes your photo library, and all the images that you've imported can be found here.


One nifty way of searching for photos in your various albums is to assign each photo/thumbnail a keyword. For our purposes, make sure you're in your photo library then select the Organize button to switch to Organize mode - you can either use the existing keywords you'll see at the bottom of iPhoto or you can create your own.

To create your own, select Edit Keywords from the Edit menu (or use -K), then click a blank keyword rectangle and type in your new keyword; when you're finished, click on Done in the bottom left of iPhoto. To assign a keyword, make sure you're in Organize mode and that the switch in the bottom left is set to assign, then select a thumbnail and click on a keyword to be assigned to it.

Now, to search through your photo library you only need to set the switch from assign to search and select your keyword - only the photos with that keyword will be displayed. Clicking Show All will return the types of displayed images to normal. Once found, double-clicking an image will display it in its full size and automatically take you into Edit mode.


In Edit mode, you can rotate images, fix red-eye problems, alter an image's proportions and change an image to black and white. While fairly basic, these tools are great for little touch-ups.

If you're interested in photo manipulation, take a look at Scott Mendham's photo restoration series starting this month on page 117.

Next month, we wrap up our look at iPhoto by discussing the creation and usage of Albums and Photo books, and exporting and sharing images.

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