Section 7.4. Albums


7.4. Albums

No matter how nicely you title, sort , and arrange photos in your digital shoebox, it's still a shoebox at this point, with all your photos piled together in one vast collection. To really become organized and present your photos to others, you need to arrange your photos into albums .

In iPhoto terminology, an album is a subset of pictures from your Library. It's a collection of photos that you group for easy access and viewing. Represented by a little album-book icon in the Source list at the left side of the screen, an album can consist of any photos that you select, or it can be a smart album that iPhoto assembles by matching certain criteria that you set upall pictures that you took in 2004, for example, or all photos that you've rated four stars or higher.

While your Photo Library as a whole might contain thousands of photos from a hodgepodge of unrelated family events, trips, and time periods, a photo album has a focus: Steve & Sarah's Wedding, Herb's Knee Surgery, and so on.

Figure 7-6. When you open photos in their own windows , you can look at several at the same timea critical feature when comparing similar shots. Plus, you can keep your other thumbnails in view, allowing you to easily open additional photos without closing the open ones. Note that the title bar no longer tells you which magnification level iPhoto's using to display each photo, as it did in iPhoto 4.


As you probably know, mounting snapshots in a real photo album is a painthat's why so many of us still have stacks of Kodak prints stuffed in envelopes and shoeboxes. But with iPhoto, you don't need mounting corners, double-sided tape, or scissors to create an album. In the digital world, there's no excuse for leaving your photos in hopeless disarray.

Of course, you're not required to group your digital photos in albums with iPhoto, but consider the following advantages of doing so:

  • You can find specific photos much faster. By opening only the relevant album, you can avoid scrolling through thousands of thumbnails in the Photo Library to find a picture you wanta factor that takes on added importance as your collection expands.

  • Only in a photo album can you drag your photos into a different order. To change the order of photos displayed in a slideshow or iPhoto hardbound book, for example, you need to start with a photo album (see Chapters 9 and 10).

7.4.1. Creating an Album by Clicking

Here are a few ways to create a new, empty photo album:

  • Choose File New Album.

  • Press -N.

  • Control-click in a blank area of the Source list and choose New Album from the shortcut menu.

  • Click the + button in the iPhoto window, below the Source list.

In each case, a dialog box appears, prompting you to name the new album. Type in a descriptive name ( Summer in Aruba, Yellowstone 2005, Edna in Paris , or whatever), click OK, and watch as a new photo album icon appears in the Source list (several are on display in Figure 7-7).

Now you can add photos to your newly spawned album by dragging in thumbnails from your Library, also as shown in Figure 7-7. There's no limit to the number of albums you can add, so make as many as you need to satisfactorily organize all the photos in your Library.

Figure 7-7. New albums are always added to the end of the list, but you can change the order in which they appear by simply dragging them up or down. When you drag multiple photos into an album, a little red numeric badge appears next to the pointer telling you exactly how many items you've got selected. In this example, 12 pictures are being dragged en masse into a photo album.


7.4.2. Creating an Album by Dragging

Creating a new, empty album, however, isn't always the best way to start. It's often easier to create an album and fill it with pictures all in one fell swoop.

For example, you can drag a thumbnail (or a batch of them) from the photo-viewing area directly into an empty portion of the Source list. In a flashwell, in about three secondsiPhoto creates a new album for you, named Album-1 (or whatever number it's up to). The photos you dragged are automatically dumped inside.

Similarly, you can drag a bunch of graphics files from the Finder (the desktop behind iPhoto) directly into the Source list. In one step, iPhoto imports the photos, creates a new photo album, names it after the folder you dragged in, and puts the newly imported photos into that album.


Tip: Remember that you can drag photos directly from the Finder onto a photo album icon in the Source list, forcing iPhoto to file them there in the process of importing.

7.4.3. Creating an Album by Selecting

Here's a handy, quick, album-creation command: File New Album From Selection. Scroll through your Library and select any pictures you like using the methods described on Section 7.3.3. (They dont have to be from the same film roll, or even the same year.) When you're done, choose New Album From Selection, type a name for the new album, and click OK.


Tip: To rename an existing photo album, double-click its name or icon in the Source list. A renaming rectangle appears around the album's name, with text highlighted and ready to be edited.

7.4.4. Adding More Photos

To add photos to an existing album, just drag them onto its icon. Figure 7-7 illustrates how you can select multiple photos and drop them into an album in one batch.

The single most important point about adding photos to an album is this: Putting photos in an album doesn't really move or copy them. It makes no difference where the thumbnails start outwhether it's the Photo Library or another album. You're just creating references , or pointers, back to the photos in your master Photo Library. This feature works a lot like Macintosh aliases; in fact, behind the scenes, iPhoto actually does create aliases of the photos you're dragging. (It stashes them in the appropriate album folders within the iPhoto Library folder.)

What this means is that you don't have to commit a picture to just one album when organizing. One photo can appear in as many different albums as you want. So, if you've got a killer shot of Grandma surfing in Hawaii and you can't decide whether to drop the photo into the Hawaiian Vacation album or the Grandma & Grandpa album, the answer is easy: Put it in both. iPhoto just creates two references to the same original photo in your Photo Library.

7.4.5. Viewing an Album

To view the contents of an album, click its name or icon in the Source list. All the photos included in the selected album appear in the photo-viewing area, while the ones in your Photo Library are hidden.

You can even browse more than one album at a time by highlighting their icons simultaneously :

  • To view the contents of several adjacent albums in the list, click the first one, then Shift-click the last.

  • To view the contents of albums that aren't consecutive in the list, -click them.


Tip: Viewing multiple albums at once can be extremely useful when it's time to share your photos. For example, you can make prints or burn an iPhoto CD archive (as explained in Chapters 10 and 12) containing the contents of multiple albums at the same time.

Remember, adding photos to albums doesn't remove them from the Library itself, your master collection. So if you lose track of which album contains a particular photo, just click the Library icon at the top of the Source list to return to the overview of your entire photo collection.


Tip: You can put your albums in any order. Just drag them up or down in the Source list.

7.4.6. Moving Photos Between Albums

There are two ways to transfer photos from one photo album to another:

  • To move a photo between albums, select it and then choose Edit Cut (or press -X), removing the photo from the album. Click the destination photo album's name or icon, and then choose Edit Paste (or press -V). The photo is now a part of the second album.

  • To copy a photo into another album, drag it onto the icon of the destination album in the Source list. That photo is now a part of both albums.

7.4.7. Removing Photos from an Album

If you change your mind about the way you've organized your photos and want to remove a photo from an album, open the album and select the photo. (Caution: Be sure that you're viewing the contents of a blue photo album in the photo-viewing area and not the main Photo Library, the Last 12 Months collection, or the Last Roll collection. Deleting a photo from those sources really does delete it for good.)

Then do one of the following:

  • Choose Edit Cut (or press -X) or Edit Clear.

  • Drag the photo's thumbnail onto the little Trash icon.

  • Press the Delete key.

  • Press the Del (forward delete) key.

  • Control-click the photo, and then, from the shortcut menu, choose Remove from Album.

The thumbnail disappears from the album, but of course it's not really gone from iPhoto. Remember, it's still in your Photo Library.

7.4.8. Duplicating a Photo

You can't drag the same photo into an album twice. When you try, the thumbnail simply leaps stubbornly back into its original location, as though to say, "Nyah, nyah, you can't drag the same photo into an album twice."

It's often useful to have two copies of a picture, though. As you'll discover in Chapters 9 and 10, a photo whose dimensions are appropriate for a slideshow or photo book (that is, a 4:3 proportion) are inappropriate for ordering prints (4 x 6, 8 x 10, or whatever). To use the same photo for both purposes, you really need to crop them independently.

In this case, the old adding-to-album trick isn't going to help you. This time, you truly must duplicate the file, consuming more hard drive space behind the scenes. To do this, highlight the photo and choose Photos Duplicate ( -D). iPhoto switches briefly into Import mode, copies the file, and then returns to your previous mode. The copy appears next to the original, bearing the same name plus the word "copy."


Note: If you duplicate a photo in an album, you'll see the duplicate both there and in the Library, but not in any other albums. If you duplicate it only in the Library, that's the only place you'll see the duplicate.

7.4.9. Putting Photos in Order

If you plan to turn your photo album into an onscreen slideshow, a series of Web pages, or a printed book, you'll have to tinker with the order of the pictures, arranging them in the most logical and compelling sequence. Sure, photos in the main Library or in a smart album (Section 7.6) are locked into a strict sort ordereither by creation date, rating, or film rollbut once they're dragged into a photo album, you can shuffle them manually into a new sequence.

To custom-sort photos in an album, just drag and drop, as shown in Figure 7-8.

Figure 7-8. Arrange photos any way you like by dragging them to a new location within a photo album. In this example, two selected photos from the top-left corner are being dragged to a new location in the next row. The 2 indicates the number of photos being moved; the black vertical bar indicates where iPhoto will insert them when you release the mouse.


7.4.10. Duplicating an Album

It stands to reason that if you have several favorite photos, you might want to use them in more than one iPhoto presentation (in a slideshow and a book, for example). That's why it's often convenient to duplicate an album: so that you can create two different sequences for the photos inside.

Just highlight an album and then choose Photos Duplicate. iPhoto does the duplicating in a flashafter all, its just duplicating a bunch of tiny aliases. Now you're free to rearrange the order of the photos inside, to add or delete photos, and so on, completely independently of the original album.


Tip: For quick duplicating, you can also Control-click an album in the list and choose Duplicate from the shortcut menu. Duplicating an album creates an identical album, which you can then edit as described on the preceding pages.

7.4.11. Merging Albums

Suppose you have three photo albums that contain photos from different trips to the beach, called Spring Break at Beach, Summer Beach Party, and October Coast Trip. You'd like to merge them into a single album called Beach Trips 2004. No problem.

Select all three albums in the Source list ( -click each, for example); the photos from each now appear in the photo-viewing area. Now create a new, fourth album, using any of the usual methods. Finally, select all of the visible thumbnails and drag them into the new album.

You now have one big album containing the photos from all three of the original albums. You can delete the three source albums, if you like, or keep all four around. Remember, albums contain only references to your photosnot the photos themselvesso you're not wasting space by keeping the extra albums around. The only penalty you pay is that you have a longer list of albums to scroll through.

7.4.12. Deleting an Album

To delete an album, select its icon in the Source list, and then choose Edit Clear or press the Delete (or Del) key. You can also Control-click an album and choose Delete Album from the shortcut menu. iPhoto asks you to confirm your intention .

Deleting an album doesn't delete any photosjust the references to those photos. Again, even if you delete all your photo albums, your Library remains intact.


Tip: If you're a person of steely nerve and unshakable confidence, there is a way to make iPhoto delete an album foreverincluding all the photos inside it. All you need is the Delete Album and Contents script that's part of the free AppleScripts for iPhoto collection. You can find this collection on this book's "Missing CD" at www.missingmanuals.com.