Find photos fast

When you first started building your iPhoto library, you could quickly scroll through your photos to find what you were looking for. But if you’ve been taking photos for a couple of years, your library may now contain hundreds or even thousands of photos. That’s a lot of scrolling.

There’s an easier way to find what you’re looking for. Even better, it doesn’t involve adding keywords, writing captions, or changing file names. In fact, your camera does almost all the work for you. Sound too good to be true? Take a closer look at iPhoto 6’s Calendar pane.

Keep accurate time

Before you can take advantage of iPhoto 6’s powerful calendar tools, you have to make sure that your images have the correct dates associated with them.

Each time you snap a photo, your camera stamps it with the current time and date. A new camera usually prompts you to set its internal clock the first time you use it. But if you skipped this stage, all your images’ dates may be wrong. Even if you did set your camera’s clock, there are plenty of ways for its timing to get thrown off. For example, did you remember to adjust for the time-zone change during your trip to Australia? And if your camera’s batteries are dead for too long, the clock may even revert to its factory settings—putting your photos months or years in the past.

To make tracking down problem photos easier, sort your library by date (View: Sort Photos: By Date) and look for photos that appear out of order. To see the date and time associated with a photo, open its Information pane by clicking on the i button at the bottom of the Source pane. If you have just one or two photos with the wrong date, you can fix them here. With the photo selected, simply click on the Date field and enter the correct day, month, and year.

If you need to change a lot of photos, turn to Joe Maller’s clever iPhoto AppleScripts collection, which includes iPhoto Date Shifter.

Once you’ve downloaded the scripts, install them in your AppleScript menu. If you haven’t used AppleScripts before, launch AppleScript Utility (/Applications/AppleScript) and select the Enable GUI Scripting option, the Show Script Menu In Menu Bar option, and the Show Library Scripts option. You should now see the AppleScript menu (it looks like a scroll) in your menu bar. To install Joe’s iPhoto AppleScripts, click on the AppleScript menu, select Open Scripts Folder: Open User Scripts Folder, and drag Joe’s iPhoto AppleScripts into the Scripts folder.

To start putting these AppleScripts to work, select a batch of photos that are all mislabeled by the same amount of time. Go to the AppleScript menu and select Joe’s iPhoto AppleScripts: iPhoto Date Shifter. Indicate whether you’ll be moving the date forward or backward, and then enter the number of days, months, or years by which you want to shift the date. If you want to undo the correction, use the iPhoto Date Reset script, included in the same package.

Make a date with the Calendar function

Once you’re confident that you have accurate dates for all your photos, you can take advantage of iPhoto’s Calendar pane to quickly find photos captured during an important event, or to group photos taken on multiple days.

Navigating the Calendar To access the Calendar feature, click on the calendar icon at the bottom of the Source pane. To switch between year and month views, click on the triangle icon in the upper left corner of the Calendar pane, or double-click on the name of a month.

The up and down arrows on either side of the Calendar heading let you navigate to a different year or month, depending on the view you’re in. (Even better, if your mouse has a scroll wheel, you can use it to quickly scroll through either calendar view). By default, the Calendar pane displays only one month or year at a time. To expand the view and see multiple years or months at once, click and drag the dot above the Calendar heading upward.

While going through the calendar, you may notice that some dates are bolded and some aren’t. The bolded dates indicate that your library contains photos taken on that day. The same thing goes for bolded months in the year view.

Smart Selections Want to see every image taken on your daughter’s birthday in May 2005? Select your library in the Source pane (this tells iPhoto to search your entire collection), and open the Calendar pane in year view. Scroll to the 2005 calendar and double-click on May to switch to the month view. Next, select the day of your daughter’s birthday. All the images recorded that day will appear in the thumbnail pane.

The calendar pane allows more-complex searches. For example, if the birthday festivities lasted for more than a day, simply 1-click on additional dates to add the photos from those days to the group. Want to see photos from every birthday your daughter has had over the years? Option-click on the date, and iPhoto will collect photos taken on that day in any year.

To clear your selection, click on the X in the upper right corner of the Calendar pane. To quickly jump to the current date, click on Calendar.

Once you’ve located the photos you want, place them in a new album so you can use them in a book or another project. Select all the images by pressing 1-A, and then choose File: New Album From Selection.

Get even smarter

You can also use your photos’ time stamps to set up interesting smart albums. Say you want to create a photo book documenting your family’s summer activities. Create a smart album (File: New Smart Album) and set the pull-down menus to Date Is In The Range Of. Fill in the start and end dates—for example, 6/1/2006 to 8/30/2006. iPhoto will scan your library and collect all the photos taken during that time period. Later, if friends or family members send additional photos that fall within that range, they will be included in the collection.

You see—your iPhoto library is more organized than you thought.

Check it out

iPhoto Meets Gmail: iPhoto lets you send pictures via e-mail programs such as Mail, Entourage, AOL, and Eudora—but not Google’s popular Web-based e-mail service, Gmail. And even with the programs it supports, iPhoto doesn’t actually send the e-mail. It merely opens a new message that has your photos attached.

But thanks to Juan I. Leon, Gmail users can now send pictures directly from iPhoto without ever opening their e-mail client. All they need is the free iPhoto2Gmail plug-in.

Once you’ve installed iPhoto2Gmail, you simply select your pictures in iPhoto, choose File: Export, and select iPhoto2Gmail. Then address your e-mail and click on the Export button. Your images will immediately be delivered via your Gmail account.

[ Derrick Story is a professional photographer, author, and teacher. Listen to his weekly podcast at thedigitalstory.com. ]

Date Change: The time stamp on these photos reflected when the photos were scanned, not when they were actually taken. But it’s easy to correct them with Joe Maller’s iPhoto Date Shifter AppleScript. Calendar View: Click on the calendar icon ( A ) to open the Calendar pane ( B ). To view photos taken on three different days in October, I 1-clicked on the dates (highlighted in blue). Only the bolded dates have pictures associated with them. Click on the X ( C ) to clear the selection.

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