I've had little trouble importing photos into iPhoto. However, because importing involves interacting with an unpredictable outside world of cameras, card readers, and files of varying formats, problems can occur.
Camera or Card Reader Isn't Recognized
Mac OS X and iPhoto support many common digital cameras and card readers, but not all of them. And sometimes iPhoto may not recognize specific memory cards, even if it recognizes the card reader in general. Try the following tips:
Make sure the camera is turned on, in review mode, and plugged in via USB properly. I know it seems obvious, but we've all made this mistake before.
Use Software Update, accessible in System Preferences, to make sure you have the latest version of Mac OS X, since Apple continually adds support for more digital cameras and card readers.
If your camera is incompatible with Mac OS X and iPhoto, buy a card reader that supports the memory card used by your camera.
If your user account can run only certain applications, that may prevent you from importing in iPhoto. The only fix is for an administrator-level user to increase the capabilities of your account by changing your account limitations in the Accounts preference pane.
Some cameras must be placed in Picture Transfer Protocol mode to communicate with iPhoto. And if that doesn't work, try other modes. Check the manual for help.
iPhoto has had trouble with some large memory cards. People have resolved the issue by reformatting the card in the camera, using a memory card reader, or using smaller cards.
If you have two cameras connected at once, or a camera and a scanner, iPhoto may become confused about which device to use. Connect only one device at a time if this causes trouble for you.
If you haven't yet purchased a camera or card reader, check the compatibility list Apple publishes at www.apple.com/macosx/upgrade/cameras.html.
Nothing Appears after Import
If nothing appears in iPhoto after you import files from your hard drive, try these solutions:
If the files you imported were located in the iPhoto Library folder, iPhoto assumes they've already been imported and won't do so again. To solve the problem, move the files out of the iPhoto Library folder and try again.
Instead of using the Import to Library command in the File menu, drag the images (or a folder containing them) onto iPhoto's display pane. This technique works better on occasion.
Like all Mac OS X applications, iPhoto is sensitive to proper permissions. So, if you've moved your iPhoto Library folder and are trying to import from another user, verify in the Finder's Get Info window for the iPhoto Library folder and all enclosed folders that the appropriate user has Read & Write permissions.
The photos might be duplicates, which iPhoto imports only if you tell it to do so. See Chapter 2, "Importing and Managing Photos."
Damaged Photos Warning Appears during Import
Sometimes when you import photos, you may see an error dialog complaining about unreadable photos. It can occur for a variety of reasons:
You're accidentally importing non-graphic files, such as aliases to photos, HTML documents, or other data files.
The image files may actually be damaged. See if you can open them in Preview or GraphicConverter. If so, you may be able to convert them to another format and eliminate the corruption.
If your files are in an unsupported format, try using GraphicConverter to convert the images to JPEG. Similarly, if RAW images from your camera aren't supported by iPhoto, see if your camera manufacturer makes a utility that will convert them to a supported format.
Sometimes the problem may relate to a communications failure between your camera or card reader and your Mac. Try plugging the camera or card reader directly into one of the Mac's USB ports rather than into the keyboard's USB port or a port on a USB hub.
iPhoto can display the damaged photo error message if your hard disk is full. Since iPhoto duplicates every photo when importing from files, if you're importing hundreds of megabytes of photos from files, it's by no means unthinkable that you could run out of disk space. Clear some space and try importing again.
Photos taken with Apple's QuickTake 100 and QuickTake 150 digital cameras must be converted from the special format Apple used into the JPEG format.
Other Importing Problems
Here are a miscellany of importing problems and solutions that don't fit larger categories:
iPhoto may crash if you disconnect your camera while photos are transferring.
If iPhoto fails to warn you about duplicates, it may be because the date and time on your camera are wrong.
Make sure there are no aliases among files you are importing; they can cause crashes.
iPhoto 2 won't recognize discs burned in iPhoto 4 through iPhoto 6, although the later versions can recognize older discs.
If iPhoto 6 complains about not being able to upgrade your library on the first launch, the problem is related either to incorrect permissions or to locked files. For instructions on solving this problem, see http://docs.info.apple.com/article.html?artnum=303232.
If you import a file that is misnameda TIFF file with a .jpg filename extension, for exampleiPhoto may display the picture strangely when editing, refuse to let you order prints, or even crash. Delete the misnamed picture from your Photo Library; then rename it appropriately in the Finder before importing it again.
If you have erased your camera and need to recover the original photos, check out the $29 PhotoRescue (a free version will tell you if it's going to work). Learn more at www.datarescue.com/photorescue/. Also try the $39.95 ImageRecall from www.flashfixers.com/software/.