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iPhoto 6 Review

 
Computing with Bifocals - iPhoto 6 Review

by
December 1st, 2006

With the holidays fast approaching it seems like a good time take another look at iPhoto.  To my surprise it has been more than four years since I last mentioned it in a column.  This is the first of a two part series.

More and more people have digital cameras as the prices become more reasonable.  The very recent addition of  my first great grandchild prompted the purchase of a new camera, and I moved from 2.3 megapixels to 5.2 megapixels. The 2.3 version was three years old and I bet you won't be surprised to know that the newer, more advanced camera cost less than the earlier version.  As a side note, an identical model of my original camera recently sold on eBay for 48 cents.

Why do I say that 5.2 megapixels are better?  Digital camera resolution is measured in pixels.  The greater number of pixels, the better quality prints will be produced.  A pixel is a small element of a picture.  The more pixels included in an image the cleaner, brighter and stronger the image will be.  If you want to know more about this subject there is a fairly easy to follow article about it in the online encyclopedia Wikipedia.

That about sums up my camera knowledge.  That's why I have a Mac.

Using iPhoto 6

The most current version of iPhoto is iPhoto 6, a component of iLife 06.  iLife 06 sells for US$79.  New Mac's come with iLife installed so if you haven't previously used it, check your applications folder to see if it is there before making any purchases. 

There are some significant system requirements for running iPhoto related to working with large digital files.  As a minimum you have to be running OS X 10.3.9 or 10.4.3, but Apple recommends 10.4.4 and QuickTime 7.0.4 which is included with iLife 06.  If you are running a system earlier than 10.3.9 you can consider using an earlier version of iPhoto.

For iPhoto 6 you also have to have at least a PowerPC G4, G5, or Intel Core Duo processor with at least 256 MG of RAM though 512 (or more) is better. To see what version you have and how much RAM you have, click on the blue Apple in the upper left hand corner of your screen and select "About This Mac".  


About This Mac Window Example

When I check out the information for my own machine, it tells me that I am running Version 10.4.8.  The processor line tells me that I have a PowerPC G4 and the Memory line tells me that I have 1 GB of RAM.  (1 GB = 1000 MB).

Set the Preferences

You might as well do this right and make your life easier in the process by setting the Preferences the first time you open the application.  With iPhoto as the active application, access Preferences under the File menu.

The first one is General.  In the General Preference you want to indicate your e-mail application, if it is one of the four options listed.  This is important because if yours is listed you will be able to click on the mail icon and send photos automatically.  We will cover this a bit later.  You also should indicate the view you want to use when editing photos and put a check by "check for iPhoto updates automatically."




Select Your Email Application
Choose Your  Editing Mode

The next one is Appearance.  I think having a drop shadow with each photo is a nice touch, but you can also choose outline.  The Background option is a great addition for those of us with visual impairments.  The Background slider allows you to choose every grayscale shade from black to white so you can choose whatever background allows you the best viewing for your images.

The option for large or small text refers to the size of the text that labels the folders in the far left column of the Organize Mode Window. "Show scrolling information" allows a translucent information pop-up to appear when you scrolling.  I'll cover that later as well.  "Align photos to grid" sets the width of all photos to that of the widest picture, so you might not want to select that particular option.


Appearance Preference Window

The Sharing Preference is specifically for computers that are networked.   If yours is, and you want to be able to share photos between machines, you will need to set preferences in the Sharing panel.  If your computer is not networked you will get an error message telling you to turn off your firewall if you try activate any of the options.  You probably don't want to turn off your firewall, doing so might make your computer vulnerable to hackers.


Sharing Preference Window

The Podcasts Preference options allows you to check for photos to download on a regular basis, but for this beginner column we will not be discussing any aspect of podcasting.

The Keywords Preference window allows you to identify keywords that will be used to create Smart Folders for sorting your pictures.  It  will be up to you if you want to take advantage of this option, but if you add a lot of pictures to your library you will probably find that you need to use smart folders to keep up with what you have.    We will talk more about folders when we discuss the Organize Mode.  Right now it is just important that you know that you can easily add or delete keywords by clicking on the "+" or "-" buttons in the bottom left corner of the window.  (To delete, first highlight the word you want to delete).


Keyword Preference Window

The final iPhoto 6 Preference is Advanced.  The primary item of concern here for a beginner is to make sure you have a check next to the box marked "Copy Files to the iPhoto Library Folder..."


Advanced WindowiPhoto Modes

Like all previous versions of iPhoto, version 6 is divided into Modes, which is the name given to the different components of what iPhoto does, i.e., import, organize, edit, and create slideshows, books, calendars, or cards.

Import Mode adds photos to your library, either from your digital camera or from other files such as a CD or an e-mail.

Organize Mode does just what it says.  You will probably spend most of your iPhoto time in this mode because it is what makes iPhoto special.

Edit Mode allows you to do some editing to your photos without making use of more complex graphics applications such as Photoshop or GraphicConverter.

Slideshow Mode allows you to customize a slideshow quickly and easily.

Book/Calendar/Card Mode allows you to create these extra items that can then be ordered from Apple.

In the next column on this topic I will review each of these sections.  Meanwhile, if you can't wait, or just want a really good book on the subject of iPhoto 6, may I suggest Adam Engst's iPhoto 6 for Mac OS X, which is published by Peachpit Press.  Mr. Engst's book ($24.99 - retail, $16.49 - Amazon) is well written, easy to follow, and contains lots of indepth information to help you become an iPhoto expert quickly.

Talking to a generation that remembers what the world was like before there was color, covers issues for people who don't care how their computer works, but rather what their computer and the internet can do for them.

Nancy has a Master's degree in Human Services Administration and prior to her retirement she worked for almost 30 years in field of mental health and mental retardation. She has been a Mac user for 11 years, and has recently developed an avocation of teaching basic computer skills in both group and one-to-one settings.

Computing with Bifocals Archives.

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