iPhoto 2 full review

When Steve Jobs introduced iLife at January’s Macworld Expo, Apple was doing more than just offering upgrades to several of its Digital Hub applications, it was creating a more tightly integrated package out of the four programs - iDVD, iMovie, iPhoto, and iTunes. So does Apple deliver what it promised with iLife? We’ve had our experts review the three new programs, as well as offer tips to help you make the most of iLife. iPhoto 2
iPhoto 2 is perhaps the most welcome of the iLife upgrades, because iPhoto 1.1 - though functional - proved frustrating due to of poor performance, lack of proper integration with the other iApps, and clumsy keywording features. Although iPhoto 2 still suffers from some stability issues, many iPhoto frustrations will fall by the wayside, and a few new features help make this version a must-have for current iPhoto users. The bad news is that online printing and Makeabook are North America-only. The most visible change to iPhoto 2 is a new Keywords window. It is much faster and easier to use than the previous interface, eliminating iPhoto 1.1’s Share tab and moving the sharing tools into the Organize tab. But we would’ve liked a program-wide Search field similar to iTunes. Also new is a Trash album that holds snapshots deleted from the Photo Library. You can restore mistakenly trashed photos by dragging them back to the Photo Library album or choosing Restore to Photo Library, while an Empty Trash command deletes photos for good. iPhoto retains its approach to storing photos chronologically within an iPhoto Library folder in your Pictures folder. Although you can now select multiple albums at once, there’s still no way to have hierarchical albums that would, for instance, keep together all your vacation photo albums. However, iPhoto 2’s new capability to archive photos to back-up CDs or DVDs should help organize your permanent collection and minimize the worry that photos controlled by iPhoto could become inaccessible. (Those hoping iPhoto 2 would let you store photos anywhere on a hard disk will be disappointed.) Generally, iPhoto 2 seems somewhat faster than its predecessor. It now tries to load images in advance, to increase responsiveness when switching between different full-window photos. However, many activities, including resizing the iPhoto window, calculating disk space before burning a CD, or changing thumbnail size for thousands of photos, remain choppy - even on a dual-1 GHz Power Mac G4 - and OS X’s spinning beachball cursor still makes frequent appearances. Although iPhoto’s editing tools will never compete with the likes of Photoshop, iPhoto 2 does include two useful new editing tools: Enhance and Retouch. (For more-powerful editing capabilities, you can still set iPhoto to open an image in another application, such as Adobe Photoshop Elements, when you double-click a photo.) Enhance, iPhoto 2’s new Enhance button tries to solve problems - such as your flash giving everything a bluish tint, or failing to illuminate the background properly - by automatically adjusting colour and contrast for the entire photo. We found Enhance worthwhile, but not a complete success. With most photos, it did a good job, making each image a bit more vibrant. When we had it enhance some photos of an athletics meeting, though, it blew it - everything in the image turned the colour of the red clay track. When we cropped another photo and used Enhance, all the people in the image turned a shade of green, although the image looked fine if we used Enhance before cropping. Retouch More welcome is the Retouch tool, which lets you pretend that little Molly didn’t have a pea-stained bib when you snapped an otherwise amazing photo of her. Just click Retouch and scrub over the offending blemish to replace it with blended colour from adjacent areas. Retouch worked well in our testing - as long as the area to be fixed wasn’t too large or too different from the surrounding area. Integration The most noticeable changes in iPhoto 2 involve integration with iTunes and iDVD. When you create iPhoto slideshows, it’s easy to access iTunes playlists, and all the photo albums can now have their own unique soundtracks. Unfortunately, iPhoto still can’t play more than one song during a slide show. iPhoto’s iDVD integration allows you to quickly move iPhoto slideshows - albeit without iPhoto’s snazzy transitions - onto DVDs that can play in any DVD player; it’s a great way to send a large quantity of photos to friends or relatives for easy viewing on a TV screen. Printing
iPhoto 2 offers two new print templates: N-Up, which prints a user-specified number of photos on a page, and Sampler, which offers a choice between two templates that print several photos at different sizes on a single page - but isn’t customizable. iPhoto 2 can also print 2-x-3-inch prints for carrying around in a wallet, but there’s still no way to add text to greeting cards printed from iPhoto. Outside iPhoto
You can now use Microsoft Entourage, and Qualcomm’s Eudora - as well as Apple’s Mail - with iPhoto. Gone is iPhoto’s Screen Saver button; instead a Desktop button now sets the chosen album as both a screen saver and as a rotating Desktop picture. Although the screen saver can display pictures on two monitors, set the Desktop picture for the secondary monitor manually. Moving photos around
Especially welcome is iPhoto 2’s new capability to burn CDs and DVDs of selected photos as backups or to share with other iPhoto users. When you insert a CD/DVD exported from iPhoto, it appears as a new Library in the album list and you can view and copy snapshots from it. Exporting a CD or DVD may be a good way to transfer a lot of pictures from one Mac to another, since iPhoto 2 doesn’t offer any easy way to synchronize iPhoto libraries on two machines - ideal for bringing those holiday photos downloaded to an iBook back to a Power Mac at home. The application’s integration with Apple’s .Mac service HomePage feature is almost unchanged, but iPhoto 2 can now upload photos to iDisk as a .Mac Slide Show, and anyone using Jaguar can use that slide show as a screen saver. And at last, if you want to extend iPhoto’s capabilities, you can finally control it via AppleScript (see "iPhoto 2 tips and tricks" for more on iPhoto’s AppleScript capabilities). iPhoto 2 tips and tricks
Although most of iPhoto’s features are relatively obvious, a few keyboard and AppleScript tricks can make it even easier to use. Optional behaviours
In a number of situations, holding down the Option key changes the behaviour of a feature in iPhoto. To rotate a photo in the opposite direction from the default, Option-click the Rotate button. When cropping, you can switch from a portrait aspect-ratio to a landscape aspect-ratio by holding down the Option key while dragging a selection rectangle. To open a photo for editing in a separate window when the default is to edit in the main window, Option-double-click the photo. To switch to an album and toggle when in organize mode or book mode, Option-click the album. And lastly, double-clicking a keyword in the Keywords window searches for that keyword (even if it was just used in the title or comments of a photo); to assign that keyword to the selected photos instead, Option-double-click it. Control freak
Another neat trick involves the Control key. If you edit a photo in any way and then press Control, iPhoto will show you how the photo looked before the edit – release Control, and you see the changed version again. Quick culling
The beauty of digital cameras is that you can take a lot of bad photos while trying for that great one. For a fast keyboard-only method of culling the discards in iPhoto after importing them all, switch to edit mode, use the arrow keys to move between photos, and press the Delete key to send a lousy snapshot to iPhoto’s Trash. This technique doesn’t work in organize mode, even when you’re viewing only a single thumbnail at a time, because iPhoto loses the selection after you delete a photo, forcing you to click the visible photo before the arrow keys work again. Keyword list
When you’re creating new keywords, be careful about what’s selected. iPhoto 2 creates new keywords underneath the selected keyword. If that’s not where you want the new keyword in the list, you must delete and recreate it; there’s no way to rearrange keywords. AppleScript
Unlike its predecessors, iPhoto 2 supports AppleScript, allowing you to integrate iPhoto with other applications, and even add features that iPhoto doesn’t support on its own. Apple has posted a collection of sample scripts at www.apple.com/applescript/iphoto. Among the samples are scripts to automatically apply a Photoshop action to an iPhoto, and generate an HTML summary of selected iPhoto images. Expect exchanging data between iPhoto and other image-cataloguing applications, such as iView MediaPro, to get easier thanks to this AppleScript support – it shouldn’t be too long before you’ll be able to transfer photos, keywords, and comments back and forth at will, all thanks to AppleScript.
By Adam Engst and Jason Snell
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