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5 Simple Steps for a More Manageable iPhoto

You know what I love about iPhoto(s aapl)? It’s a great central storage place for my media that just about any OS X app can pull photos from. You know what I hate about it? Everything else. To say I have a love/hate relationship with iPhoto is like saying Bill Buckner has a problem handle routine grounders in Game 6s of World Series. Here are a few tips I hope might alleviate some iPhoto frustrations you may have.

1. Use TidyUp To Purge Duplicates. TidyUp (download link), by Hyperbolic Software is a great way to search your iPhoto library for duplicate items. Every now and then, my iPhone will re-import photos, or forget it already imported them. TidyUp lets you search using some fairly granular criteria to eliminate duplicate files.

2. Keywords are your friends. I tend to go a bit keyword crazy. Every photo or image I import has keywords. A presentation image of a clock might have the keywords “presentation, time, clock, timepiece” assigned to it. A photo of my friend Mindy in Boston will have “Boston, Mindy, harbor” attached to it. Using keywords will make the next step, Smart Albums, a lot easier.

3. Use Smart Albums. I’m not a big fan of iPhoto’s Event-based organization. For starters, I hate how events are created by day. I don’t know about you, but the amount of true events (weddings, vacations, etc.) I shoot on an annual basis is minor. Instead I get a lot of onsey-twosie photo events that are a pain to organize. Also, a lot of images for me are multipurpose. Earlier, I mentioned I tag images I might use in presentations, so I’ve got a Smart Album built on the presentation keyword. I don’t like to rely on iPhoto’s Faces and Places intelligence, so I will also build Smart Albums based on areas I shoot a lot; I’ve got albums for Boston, Boothbay, and New York.

You can also use multiple keywords or criteria to create yet more specific albums. For example, you could create a Smart Album of wallpapers with the Apple logo you’ve created in the last year, that also have a ranking of five stars or higher.

4. Keep Events Window Clean. Like I said, most of the photos I take are random shots off my iPhone. My OCD really kicks in when I see events that aren’t events, so I keyword them and move them into a miscellaneous general purpose event. Periodically, I’ll go through that holding bin and, since most of the time my “I don’t know what else to do with this” event really is an “I don’t know why I took this photo” and I’ll purge 99 percent of the images there.

5. Empty the Trash and Purge. iPhoto has a separate trash can from the rest of OS X. Deleting an image won’t immediately delete the file from your hard drive. Instead you need to go in and manually empty the trash. Checking the trash periodically will let you permanently get rid of bad or duplicate photos, and might reveal some lost gems that look much better than you remember.

iPhoto is a great program, but it isn’t yet so perfect that it can’t stand improvement. These small changes take only a little time but add result in a markedly different user experience. Any other iPhoto tips you care to add?

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2 Responses to “5 Simple Steps for a More Manageable iPhoto”

  1. I’m new to the iPhoto way of using Events to manage photos and dislike it, but have learned to live with it. I really like your tips on using Keywords and Smart Albums. Can’t wait to get started.