The iPhoto team didn't waste much time putting together the first major upgrade for Apple's digital photo organizer. It's a hefty upgrade, and if you haven't taken a look at the new version yet, you may want to after you read about the additional features.
I'll list the highlights of the upgrade first, then talk about a few of my favorite items.
Some of these improvements are fun and others were downright necessary. I'll breeze through the fun ones first.
iPhoto has added three icons under the Share button: Mail, Desktop, and Screen Saver. If you highlight an image and click on the Mail button, iPhoto presents you with a dialogue box, allowing you to select one of four image sizes to send via email using the Mail.app. Your email can also include the photo title and the comments data contained in iPhoto -- a nice touch.
iPhoto now sports three new Share buttons: Mail, Desktop, and Screen Saver. (Click for larger image.)
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I'm using this feature to send photos from O'Reilly's Emerging Technology Conference to our producers in Sebastopol, Calif. I write the photo caption in the comments field, add the title, and click the Mail button. The producer receives the image at my specified size and has all of the necessary data to add the caption. I have a complete record of the image and its data safely stored away in iPhoto -- no more double entry of captions!
If I become so enamored with one of my photos that I want to stare at it constantly, I simply highlight the image and click the Desktop button. iPhoto instantly makes it my desktop background image. And if I want my screensaver slideshow based on an iPhoto album, I select that album and hit the Screen Saver button.
As for the necessary additions, at the top of the list are the Brightness and Contrast controls. These controls are welcome features if you're going to mail images directly from iPhoto, place them on your desktop, create QuickTime slide shows, and/or produce other projects within the app. Sure, you can adjust the images in a standalone image editor, but you shouldn't have to for quick and dirty tweaks.
The new Brightness and Contrast controls enable me to stay in iPhoto for basic adjustments. (Click for larger image.)
The new Brightness and Contrast controls allow you to quickly adjust your shots before sending them out the door. If you need to make very fine adjustments, you'll still need to use the Levels control in Photoshop. But in most instances, these iPhoto controls will do just fine.
Another biggie is the improved QuickTime export. I was frustrated that I couldn't easily export my cool slideshows with transitions and music to QuickTime. Now I can.
This means you can fine tune your presentations using the Slide Show function in iPhoto, and when you get the show the way you like it, export it to QuickTime. Once you have the QuickTime file, you can send it to others or post it on your Web site.
The third major improvement for me is the improved handling of EXIF data. I like knowing when I took the picture, what settings I used, and even which camera recorded the image. All of that data is included with the picture file, and now iPhoto allows you to view it when you use the Show Info command (CMD-I). Even better, when you import images from your hard drive or other device, iPhoto retains the EXIF data and the original file name.
iPhoto now preserves and displays all the EXIF metadata included with the image file. (Click for larger image.)
iPhoto handles its libraries differently in version 1.1.1 than in 1.0. You can open a previously saved library in 1.1.1, but the application will convert it. I recommend you back up your existing libraries before upgrading.
In my first iPhoto article, I suggested you limit library size to 650 MBs or smaller so a library can easily be saved to CD. I still think that's a good idea, and you might want to burn a few CDs now before adding the update.
If you grab the update from the Apple site and provide your name and email address to Apple, you’ll be sent a nifty keyboard shortcuts tip sheet as a thank you. As always, you can decline to have Apple send you updates and new product information if you choose not to receive it.
You'll also need Mac OS X 10.1.2 or later to load this new version of iPhoto. If you haven't upgraded in awhile, it's time to fire-up the Software Update control panel and download the new system files.
You may also have to upgrade some of the third-party plug-ins you've been using with iPhoto 1.0. One of my favorites, BetterHTMLExport has updated to version 1.6 to work with iPhoto 1.1.1.
I've been using iPhoto 1.1.1 for my conference reporting at the O'Reilly Emerging Technology Conference, and I find the improvements are saving me even more time. I particularly like the integration with Mail.app, the improved QuickTime export, and the better handling of EXIF data.
As of yet, I haven't had to open Photoshop to prepare any of my images. That's sweet!
Derrick Story is the author of The Photoshop CS4 Companion for Photographers, The Digital Photography Companion, and Digital Photography Hacks, and coauthor of iPhoto: The Missing Manual, with David Pogue. You can follow him on Twitter or visit www.thedigitalstory.com.
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