iPhoto 6 First Impressions

by Derrick Story

My first impression of iPhoto 6 could be summed up in one word: "Wow!" My second and third impressions aren't bad either.

iPhoto 6 has reached maturity. And Apple has brought this lovely image management tool to this point without destroying its friendliness or charm. I'm going to highlight just a few of my favorite features here today. I'll be drilling down into more detail in future articles, and of course in, "iPhoto 6: The Missing Manual."

But for now, I want to start with Apple's claim that performance is improved. It is. I'm sure mileage will vary, but on my PowerBook 1.5 GHz, everything improved from scrolling through thumbnails to editing Raw files.

iPhoto 6 Interface

Speaking of Raw files, Apple has introduced a new advanced preference called Use Raw files with external editor. This enables me to double-click on a thumbnail for a Raw file and have the image open in Adobe's Camera Raw. If I prefer to use Apple's Adjust palette for editing, I can either change the preference, Option double-click on the thumb, or right-click on the thumbnail and make the appropriate editing selection. I have a brief tutorial on iPhoto 6 Raw options that you can read for more detail.

This conversation can't go any further without mentioning Full Screen mode editing. Just click once on any thumbnail, tap the Full Screen button, and watch your image fill up the screen against a black background. You have all of your editing tools hiding on the bottom and the thumbnails hiding on top. A simple mouse-over reveals them.

CMD-click up to 8 images in thumbnail mode, then tap the Full Screen button and compare them all at once. You can magnify each image using the slider at the bottom of the screen, or by simply pressing the 1 key (100%), 2 key (200%), or the 0 key to return to "fit in screen" size. You can rate your photos using the floating info box (and add comments too). Everything works great in full screen mode. If you have really big Photoshop images, they may take a few seconds to reach full resolution. But for my cameras, including the Canon 5D, the performance was excellent.

While I'm on editing, the new Effects palette is useful. It provides you with one-click enhancements, enabling you to return to the original at any time by clicking on the center tile in the palette. I particularly like the "Edge Blur" effect for portraits. It's quite professional looking.

And did you notice that you can now have iPhoto point to existing images that you have organized on your hard drive... without actually importing them into the managed library? It's true, if you uncheck the box labeled "Copy files to iPhoto Library folder when adding to library," you can have iPhoto point to your original photo files instead of duplicating them in iPhoto's library -- and still make full use of iPhoto's tools. The option is under Advanced in the preferences dialog box.

While you're there, you might also notice that you can now use a ColorSync profile for viewing photos. I'm going to be testing this option for sure.

All of this, and I still haven't touched on Photocasts, 16-bit Tiffs, iWeb compatibility, greeting cards, calendars, or the improved interface. iPhoto 6 is a steal as part of the iLife '06 suite for $79. More reporting to come. But for now, I recommend this upgrade, wholeheartedly.


2006-01-19 19:43:34
iPhoto 6
I have iLife05 and have been considering iLife06 your article doesn't really tell if you did an iLife06 install updating from iLife05 and if so how your install went. I have been reading the "discussions" on the Apple Support site, and it looks like pages and pages and pages of posts of people having nothing but difficulty installing iLife06, many losing some of their photos and some not even being able to install the program. There are also lots and lots of issues people are having after it is installed with this and that not working correctly. When I upgraded to iLife05 from 04 it was a piece of cake, loaded the DVD, and several minutes later it was done, not a problem in any of the programs. iLife06 right now looks like a "install at your own risk program".
2006-01-19 22:31:34
RE: iPhoto 6
Well, I'm not really reviewing iLife '06 in this weblog post; rather, talking about my favorite iPhoto 6 features. But my experience has been that iPhoto 6 is running wonderfully. I purchased iLife from the Apple Store and used the installer program on the DVD. Everything seems fine.

I've written about this many times, but I guess it's worth repeating: I recommend backing up your iPhoto Library before upgrading. But then again, I recommend backing up your iPhoto Library every week anyway.

My sense is that most people who post to the forums are the ones having problems. What's causing those problems is hard to tell. But you'll probably get a somewhat skewed view of iLife '06 from basing your opinions on the forums. Or maybe, I'm just extremely lucky with software...

2006-01-20 03:54:52
What about Automator?
Are there any new Automator Actions in iphoto 6? For example IŽd love to be able to add photos with different keywords to the iphoto library.
2006-01-20 05:32:43
RE: iPhoto 6
I too had no problems. Everything seems to be running fine. 15" PowerBook 1.67 GHz. Be sure that you pay close attention to the disk requirements. They are pretty hefty.
2006-01-20 06:53:51
RE: iPhoto 6
Good point about forums. People aren't likely to go wandering onto forums to tell everyone how smoothly thier iLife install went. Only those that did have problems show up.
2006-01-20 07:20:23
RE: iPhoto 6
Just to post a positive install experience to a forum :)

- I had 0 problems installing iLife '06 on top of iLife '05

- I showed off the features of iPhoto 6 and iWork '06 to a non-Mac user last night and I think I might have sent him on a mission to find something similar for Windows. I don't think he'll have much luck though. These programs are more than just software - they are truly excellent user experiences that you just can't have in Windows.

Thanks for a good article!

2006-01-20 08:35:58
iPhoto Imports Aperture Library
Hi Derek:
After reading in your post that I could import to iPhoto without copying the files, I tried importing my folder of select CR2 and PSD files.

My Aperture Library is also in this folder and iPhoto also imported all of these files.

2006-01-20 08:46:54
RE: What about Automator?
Did you see this on MacOSXHints?


"Since I have all of my photos' metadata in IPTC fields, I only needed a script that would import keywords, titles and comments into iPhoto. It took quite a few hours of work (it's my first large AppleScript program) and testing, but I was able to accomplish that. "

You might want to see if this is helpful to you...

As for Automator itself, I checked it, but can't tell if any of those scripts are new to iPhoto 6. Is anyone up on that?

2006-01-20 08:50:51
RE: iPhoto Imports Aperture Library
This is a remarkable feature addition that hasn't been touted that much by Apple. I'm curious to see how it pans out in everyday use. On one hand, I do thing that managed libraries are good for casual users of the app. But for more savvy Mac users (such as the ones who read this blog), seems like the ability to keep your images in a file/folder structure outside of iPhoto 6 is going to be a big deal.
2006-01-20 11:46:43
RE: What about Automator?
Thanks for the tip. I will have a look at it!
2006-01-21 00:32:38
RE: iPhoto 6 (Windows alternative?)
While it's certainly not iPhoto, Google's Picasa is a pretty nice photo management application for Windows. I can literally say that it's an application my mother can use, which she does while obsessively documenting the life of her first grandchild. :-)

Google Picasa Photo Organizer: http://www.google.com/downloads/

2006-01-23 09:45:49
iPhoto 6
I, too, am eager to fully integrate iPhoto 6 into my work flow. But, I've had a dickens of a time getting the upgrade from 5 to work. Problems similar to those posted - primarily with display of thumbnails. I'm getting there, but it's taken two installs and a complete rebuild. I did have a full backup of my Library, so no harm done. I've had long experience with Apple software, but this install/upgrade has been more difficult than most. I trust, though, that it will get sorted out.
2006-01-23 11:50:34
RE: iPhoto Imports Aperture Library
Apple has a knack for subtly adding new features without explicitly mentioning them.

I'm curious how "Copy files to iPhoto Library folder when adding to library" works if toggled while managing a single library. I prefer letting iPhoto managing its internal file/folder automatically (the pre-'06 behavior) but could see the new option being useful for additional content in externally organized folder (e.g miscellaneous images under ~/Pictures) that I've intentionally kept out of iPhoto until now. I do something like that with iTunes, which is more restrictive than iPhoto since it still only supports a single library.

Maybe it would simplify things to have multiple iPhoto libraries, some auto-managed and others not although that doesn't eliminate having to remember to set the copy preference appropriately. At least we've got that option now -- thanks for mentioning it.

2006-01-29 22:29:09
Does this new iPhoto handle Adobe DNG files?
2006-02-20 17:44:31
Arg.. I can't seem to figure out how to install iLife 06'. Every time I click 'iLife 06' on the installation DVD its say's 'choose application'. Now instead of a folder it come up as a 'blank piece of paper' and when I click that it openes to iPhoto and starts importing pictures from the 'iLife 06'. Could somone help me with this stupid problem. Im really bad with computers.
2006-02-20 17:45:09
Arg.. I can't seem to figure out how to install iLife 06'. Every time I click 'iLife 06' on the installation DVD its say's 'choose application'. Now instead of a folder it come up as a 'blank piece of paper' and when I click that it openes to iPhoto and starts importing pictures from the 'iLife 06'. Could somone help me with this stupid problem. Im really bad with computers.
2006-06-05 11:21:33
Help Please. I installed iLife 06 and I used to have my picture files in dated file folders, now all my pictures are in rolls and impossible to find. Does anyone know how to revert it back?