iPhoto ’11: Setting Your Desktop Background (Without System Preferences)

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OK, I have a confession to make. Despite my last tip (in which I admitted to being a bit, well, obsessive about organizing my music), I never, ever arrange my iPhoto library. I don’t make albums. I don’t name my events. I’m a bad, bad Mac user.

What this means is that when I want to set one of my pictures as a desktop background, I hate using the System Preferences window to do it. It’s very small, and navigating through five thousand images to find the one I want within that pane is frustrating.


This, Apple, is not user-friendly.


Fortunately, you can set this preference directly from iPhoto, which makes viewing your images to choose the correct one much nicer. 

Here’s how. In iPhoto, find the picture you’d like to use. (If you choose an event instead of a single photo, it’ll automatically set your desktop image to change every thirty minutes.) Click to select it, and then choose the menu item Share > Set Desktop.

That’s all there is to it. It’s so easy, even an iPhoto slacker like me can handle it.

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Nice succinct tip that I had never come across before.  Thank you for sharing.

Since we’re on the subject of iPhoto, I would love to see a discussion of Events vs. Albums, because - with one exception - I don’t see the need for organizing both on one’s system.  @Melissa, it doesn’t sound like an issue that you would like to tackle, but I’m wondering if there’s someone else on the MacObserver staff who would like to weigh in on the issue.

Melissa Holt

Since we?re on the subject of iPhoto, I would love to see a discussion of Events vs. Albums, because - with one exception - I don?t see the need for organizing both on one?s system.?

You’re right, Substance, that’s probably not an issue I’d like to tackle in a full article. wink

I do have an opinion, however. I think that leaving them organized by event (as they come out of your camera, assuming it includes date info) is easiest. Then I’d use keywords to tag pictures to my liking and create Smart Albums if I needed a particular subset of pictures. That way, the albums are dynamic, not static, and you can reorganize them very quickly without doing any dragging of photos.


Crumbs, there are all sorts of reasons for organizing photos into albums rather than just Events. Events are basically the chronological list of your photos coming into iPhoto and you can’t do too much with Events. When you sort your photos out into albums, however, you can sort them, have the same photo in as many different albums as you like, use the albums as the selected basis for iPhoto “products” (books, calendars, slideshows, etc.).
Look upon Events as you not too well organized (or organizable) shoeboxes of pics; the albums (including what appear to be several copies of the same photo, even though there is only ever one of them) bring order into the game.

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