Step 1 - Whenever you import some new photos, iPhoto automatically starts to organise your photo Library for you, using the four main headings shown at the top of the Source panel at the left-hand side of the screen. The ‘Events’ heading (shown above) groups together photos that were taken on the same day, while the ‘Photos’ heading simply shows your entire photo collection as one long list. The ‘Faces’ feature uses face-recognition technology to try and detect faces that appear in your photos, and if your camera or phone has a GPS feature then the Places heading can even group together photos that were taken in the same location.

Step 2 - The standard settings in iPhoto work pretty well, but you do have the ability to fine-tune things if you want to. By default, iPhoto creates one event per day, but if you’re a serious snapper you can organise events more precisely in the program’s Preferences Panel. Under the ‘General’ tab you’ll find an option that lets you ‘autosplit’ photos into new events every two or eight hours. That’s handy if you’re snapping away all day long, but you can also set this option to create a new event every week, so that a week’s holiday in Spain will just be treated as one long event.

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Step 3 - There are also times when iPhoto needs a little help. Here’s a batch of photos I took at a tennis tournament in London recently using an old digital camera. It was only when I imported the photos that I realised the date settings on the camera were wrong and all my photos were listed as being taken on 19th July 2010. Fortunately, there’s an easy way to fix this. Just use Command-A to select the entire batch of photos and then open the ‘Photos’ menu. Select ‘Adjust Date And Time’ and you can then enter the correct date for an entire set of photos in one go.

Step 4 - You can give each event its own name, but there’s another command in the Photo menu that allows you to quickly name individual photos too. My Samsung camera just names all photos ‘Sam 123’, and so on. That isn’t very helpful, but you can use the ‘Batch Change’ command to automatically assign a proper title to each photo. I’ll give all my photos the same title – ATP Masters 2013 – and then click the box marked ‘Append a number to each photo’ to add a number to each photo as well. You can then use the Search tool down in the bottom left corner to instantly search for terms such as ‘ATP’ or ‘2013’.

Step 5 - If you want to dig a little deeper into iPhoto then you can hit Command-I to display the main Info panel. This displays much of the ‘metadata’ that is part of each photo file, including the date the photo was taken, its resolution and even the camera’s lens settings. You can also add keyword information here, such as ‘Nadal’ and ‘Tennis’, which will help me to identify these photos for future searches. My old camera doesn’t have a GPS option, but iPhoto will even let me type in the name of the ‘London O2 Arena’ and then add the location data for me.

Step 6 - Another powerful feature in iPhoto is its ability to automatically scan photos and detect human faces (no cats or dogs yet, unfortunately). That’s pretty smart, but even iPhoto can’t put a name to those faces without a little help. The first time you click on Faces, iPhoto will show you some of the faces that it has spotted and ask you to name as many as you can. I’ve filled in a few names, but iPhoto says there are another 334 faces still waiting to be named. Fortunately, there’s a way to speed things up if we just hit ‘Continue To Faces’.

Step 7 - Once you’ve identified someone in two or three photos, iPhoto can learn to recognise that person in other photos. If we click on a photo of James then iPhoto will show us a list of additional ‘unconfirmed faces’ that it thinks might be James. Some of them are wrong, but we can click on the pictures that do show James in order to confirm his identity, or Option-click to tell iPhoto to reject photos that contain other people. This option lets you quickly identify people in whole groups of photos all at once, so you don’t have to work through your entire library one photo at a time.

Step 8 - Now that we’ve added faces, keywords, locations and other info to our photos we’ve got loads of options for quickly searching and organising our photo library. Open the View menu at the top of the screen and you can tell iPhoto to sort through your photos by date, title, rating or keyword. There’s also a Search tool down in the lower-left corner that can locate photos using any keyword, name or title that you’ve added to your photos. You can also use the Places option in the Source panel to display a map with the locations where your photos were taken.

Step 9 - Events, Places and Faces are actually relatively recent additions to iPhoto. Originally you had to organise everything yourself by grouping photos together into ‘albums’. That’s a bit outdated now, but iPhoto’s ‘Smart Albums’ feature can still come in handy sometimes. Select ‘New Smart Album’ from the File menu and iPhoto will create an album that automatically includes photos with any name, title, face, or even camera settings that you specify. In addition, any new photos that you add in the future that match these search criteria will automatically be added to your smart albums as well, saving you from having to update the albums yourself.

Step 10 - Once you’ve organised all your photos you’ll obviously want to share them with your friends. There are plenty of sharing options built into iPhoto, from ordering prints and calendars, to slideshows, email, or uploading them to web sites such as FaceBook, Twitter or Flickr. However, the state-of-the-art way of doing things these days is to use the cloud – or, to be specific, the iCloud option that was recently added to the Share section of the Source panel in the new iPhoto 9.5. This is where things get a little tricky, though, so we’ll be taking a closer look at iCloud’s sharing options in an upcoming tutorial.