iPhoto, The Bifocals Way
March 5th, 2002

I have found the perfect reason to really get serious about learning OS X (Operating System X).

Before they even returned home from the San Francisco trade show, the TMO staff were raving about iPhoto. iPhoto is a new application, designed by Apple and provided at no cost, that lets the user see, catalog, manipulate and display digital photographs. It only works in OS X. Now, it just so happens that when I purchased my new iMac in November I received a free HP digital camera from Apple. This camera is totally compatible with iPhoto. Do we see a smooth marketing idea here? Actually, there is an easily accessible list available as part of the iPhoto download that will tell the user if their camera is compatible. However, the Apple iPhoto web site says that users can also import photos directly from any camera's memory card with a USB Memory Card Reader. The memory card comes with some of the more expensive digital cameras and allows the user to load many more images than what the camera itself can store at one time.

What Does iPhoto Do?

In a nutshell, here are some of the things users can do with iPhoto.

  • Opens automatically when digital photos are downloaded from the camera, displaying the downloaded images. No second, third, or fourth steps required.
  • Edit photos in a number of ways, including removing red-eye with the click of a button and cropping.
  • Create custom books choosing a theme, specific photos, and text. (User's can also order professionally-bound copies of their "book".)
  • Organize photographs into digital albums for easy retrieval similar to the ability to create play lists in iTunes.
  • Automatically create a full-screen slide show, including music, that can be e-mailed to friends.

iPhoto is available in Dutch, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Spanish, and International English.

First the user must be in OS X.

Ah ha, you knew there was a catch didn't you. Not a problem for users who only have OS X on their machines. For those of us who have both OS9 and OS X it can be a bit more difficult. Assuming the user has OS 9 as their main OS, the following steps are necessary to get to OS X.

Choose the Apple Menu and then choose Control Panels.

When Control Panels opens choose Start Up Disk.

A window that looks something like this will open.

Start Up Disk From The Control Panels

You may not see two different hard drives, but if you have Mac OS X installed, you will see both OSs as an option. Click on OS X and then click on Restart.

Your computer will restart. When your computer comes back up you will see a desktop that looks something like this. The bar along the bottom of the screen is called the Dock.

OS X Desktop Example As Displayed on the Apple Web Site

Once you are in OS X, you will likely need to get iPhoto. You can open Internet Explorer by clicking on the appropriate icon in the Dock. The information and download URL for iPhoto is http://www.apple.com/iphoto/. Find the iPhoto download link and click it. Follow any instructions, and the file should begin downloading. When the download is complete this icon will appear on your desktop.

iPhoto Download Icon

Click on the icon and follow directions for installation. When this step is complete you will see this iPhoto icon on your Dock.

iPhoto Icon

Next, follow the directions accompanying your specific kind of camera and download your photos. When your photos are loaded on your computer, iPhoto will automatically open and your photos will be displayed. The window looks like this:

iPhoto Starting Page with Downloaded Photos Displayed

Get The Red Out!

Photo With red-eye

This is a sample of red-eye that I found on the net. My camera eliminates red-eye as it takes pictures, so no matter how I tried, I couldn't get my own images to use as illustration. Besides which, my 14 year old cat had had quite enough of that light flashing in her eyes and was starting to get surly.

Look again at the sample screen above and find the red button under the Edit menu. Then place your cursor at the point of one of the eyes, hold down the mouse button and drag just over that eye.

Using the Red-eye Reduction Button

Release the mouse button and the eye should be encased in a small box. (The instructions say you can do both eyes at once, but I was much happier with the results when I did them one at a time.) Once you have done that you will notice that the all of the picture fades except the part you are working on. Click the red button and the red-eye should disappear.

Red-Eye Icon

If it doesn't try it again until you are happy with it. The Edit pull-down menu allows you to undo any steps you take so things are fairly safe.

Photo With red-eye Removed

Special Protection For the Original

iPhoto does something that I have encountered in other software, but not to the degree I found it in iPhoto. It allows you to delete any changes you have made to a picture and return it to the original image. This is true even if you have previously exited the application or even turned off your computer. To do this choose Revert To Original from the File Pull-down Menu. I discovered this special attribute after I did something wrong and completely lost one of my pictures.


There is one thing that the user can not do with iPhoto. Backgrounds (like the dirty dishes on the table) can't be manipulated or changed in any way. The user still has to rely on a graphics application like Graphic Converter or Photoshop to accomplish that, but the ability to crop images quickly is built in to the application and, like the red-eye option, it is very, very simple. A cropped image presents a much smaller canvas to change. To crop an image choose the image you want to change by clicking on it once. Then choose Edit from the iPhoto window. The image will open to a larger window. Place your cursor at the point where you want to begin the crop and, holding down the mouse, drag the cursor over the portion you want to save. Release the mouse button. Choose Crop by clicking on it and the task will be finished. It will automatically be saved as well.

Crop Icon

Slide Show

Last year I wrote a column on making a slide show. Perhaps I am so impressed with this component of iPhoto because I have learned first hand how time consuming creating a slide show can be. Your images will be in the Library when downloaded. Start creating a slide show by choosing New Album under the File Pull-down menu. Drag images from the Library into your new album. You can delete any image by clicking on it once and hitting the delete key. You can rearrange the order of your images by clicking on each one once and dragging it to the new location.

Make sure the Album you want stays as the active window. Once you have your images in the order you want, make sure the edit bar is set on Organize and then go to the part of the iPhoto window that contains these symbols:

Slide Show Option Buttons

Click the second button to instantly start the slide show. The third button allows you to add written comments about the show.

Choose Preferences from the iPhoto Pull-down menu to adjust the show to your preferences, such as set the speed and choose the music. To add new songs or music choose Other from the pop up menu and choose an MP3 or other type of audio file. To remove a piece of music choose Edit List.

You can then save your Slide Show in several formats, which really makes it easy to share them or present them to other people.

I hope that this all helps give you a good starting place with iPhoto. It may seem a bit detailed, but the application is so simple to use that it is a great benefit to new or hesitant users. Have fun!

Several Observers took the time to provide additional information about burning CDs after the previous column. This column is too long to include them, but I will do so with my next column.

If you have any questions, comments, or tips, let me know and I may include them in a future column.