Sorting iPhoto events

A reader who prefers to be known by the initials L.N. has a question about iPhoto sorting. He or she writes:

I am writing to ask if there is any way to change the way Apple iPhoto events behave when sorted by date. Specifically, iPhoto sorts events by date based on the oldest date in the event, and I’d prefer sorting based on the most recent date in the event.

I’m going to offer a few different answers, depending on what you’re really asking. If you’re talking about simply sorting images within an event, the answer is simple. You undoubtedly know that you choose View -> Sort Photos and choose one of the options—Date, Keyword, Title, or Rating. The default setting is Date. Below these options are Ascending and Descending entries. These are the key to sorting photos by oldest or newest within the event. Choose Ascending and the oldest photos within the event appear at the top of the event pane. Choose Descending, and the newest photos appear at the top. These Ascending and Descending commands work similarly with iPhoto albums.

If, on the other hand, you’re asking how to defeat iPhoto’s habit of forcing an event to the top or bottom of the list based on the date of its oldest image, that’s a different matter. For those who reacted to the last sentence with a “Say what?” it’s like this:

iPhoto sorts events based on the date of the oldest image within the event. So, for example, if you have five images in an event with the oldest image dated 2000 and the newest 2011, the event will be filed with other events that take place in the year 2000. If you’re asking iPhoto to sort events by the newest image within the event, you can’t.

What you can do, however, is split the event so that images stamped with a particular date appear together in an event. To do that, select your event and choose Events -> Autosplit Selected Events. The event’s images will be split into separate events that take place within the period of time chosen in iPhoto’s General preference (the default setting is One Event Per Day, but you can change it to One Event Per Week, Two-hour Gaps, or Eight-hour Gaps). So, citing our example, your year 2000 image will appear with other images taken that day and the 2011 image will join its more up-to-date brothers and sisters in a separate event.

“But wait, I still want to gang those images together!” you say. “This doesn’t do what I want.”

True enough. But, as I suggested, what you want isn’t possible. However, you have a couple of other options. One is to use manual sorting. While viewing events, choose View -> Sort Events, and choose Manually. Now drag your events where you want them. The other option is to rely on albums rather than events. Create an album of the images in an event and then drag your album wherever you like in iPhoto’s library pane.

Updated to quite possibly answer the question that was originally asked.

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