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Apple’s iPhoto Makes Digital Cameras Easy

Perhaps you have seen Apple Computer’s television or print ads that show users of Windows-based computers who have switched to Macs for various reasons. There are plenty of reasons to switch, and plenty not to. This month I look at one on the Pro-Mac side, Apple’s great iPhoto software.

The goal of iPhoto is to make working with digital cameras easy. With as many as 30% of all cameras sold being digital cameras, Apple has filled a growing need. The program launches automatically when your digital camera is plugged in to the computer’s USB port, one button imports and saves all of the photos. The images are displayed as scalable thumbnails allowing you to see hundreds of photos or to see the photos larger for more accurate cropping or previewing.

The iPhoto interface has buttons at the bottom that take you to its five main areas: Import, Organize, Edit, Book, and Share. Import is where you get the photos into the program, either from a digital camera or a folder on your hard drive. Once you have your images into iPhoto, the Organize section lets you add key words or put them into virtual albums (Fig 1). You can also search for a specific key word, category or date allowing you to easily find the photo you want.

Fig. 1

The Edit section of iPhoto gives you some rudimentary controls to adjust the image (Fig 2). This is definitely not Adobe Photoshop, but it will let you fix brightness, contrast and red eye problems, crop an image or turn it black-and-white.

Fig. 2

The Book section is very cool. It integrates an easy-to-use page layout program into iPhoto, letting you set up your own custom photo album, complete with text (Fig 3). iPhoto will warn you if any of your photos are too low resolution to look good when printed at the size that you chose.

Fig. 3

The Share section allows you to distribute your photos in many ways (Fig 4). You can print them to your desktop inkjet printer, create a slide show with music that you can see on your computer or burn to disk, email photos, or order photographic prints online through Kodak. Additionally, you can order a professionally printed, linen-bound book from your layout for $29.99 plus shipping for the first ten pages. Your layout is transmitted directly over the Internet and you get a book back in about a week. But there’s more, you can make a web page from your photos, use them as your desktop wallpaper or screen saver, and export them in several file formats.

Fig. 4

Apple’s iPhoto is a welcome fix for the morass of digital imaging. For the average digital camera user, iPhoto is a great tool. The good news is that iPhoto is free; you can download it from Apple’s web site ( The bad news is that iPhoto is available exclusively for Mac OS X, but with an application like this switching doesn’t sound so bad.

Paul Vaughn is a freelance graphic artist, writer and web designer. If you would like to see the Graphics Guy address a specific topic email Paul Vaughn at iPhoto on Mac OS X is a great combo. Color examples and previous columns can be seen at


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