Organizing and creating iPhoto projects

Making books, cards, and calendars from your images

Images are meant to be shared. And while the digerati point us toward electronic means, there’s something pretty wonderful about the printed picture. Apple understands this idea, and demonstrates that awareness by providing the tools necessary to create printed books, cards, and calendars.

The general idea is this: First, you create an album that contains the images you’d like to appear in one of these projects. Next, you select images, click the Create button, and choose the kind of project you want to make. Let’s see how this arrangement works with each type of project.


When you click Book, a lovely interface appears where you can choose the physical form of the book (hardcover, softcover, or wire-bound), the style of the book (Picture Book, Journal, Photo Essay, Modern Lines, Crayon, Watercolor, Contemporary, Formal, Texture Border, Simple Border, Snapshots, Folio, Tropical Travel, Asian Travel, Old World Travel, and Travel), the size of the book (large or extra large), and the background color of the cover and pages (the colors vary depending on the book’s theme).

You can find the price of the book near the bottom-left corner of the window. Hardcover books are, by default, 20 pages and cost $49.99 for the extra-large version ($1.49 for each additional page) and $29.99 for the large book (each additional page costs $0.99). The 20-page softcover version costs $19.99 for the large edition ($0.69 per additional page), $9.99 for the medium version ($0.49 per additional page), and $3.99 for the small version (available in three-packs only, and priced at $0.29 for each additional page). All books are limited to 100 additional pages. Wire-bound books are priced the same as the softcover editions but you can get wire-bound books only in large and medium sizes.

Choose your project.

When you’ve chosen a book style, size, theme, and background color, click the Create button near the bottom-right corner of the window. This action moves you into editing mode. In the resulting window you’ll see each of the book’s pages laid out on a faux wooden surface. Double-click a page you’d like to edit, and you gain access to editing controls for the exposed pages. At the bottom of the page are Add Page, Layout, Options, and Photos buttons. Here’s what they do.

Add Page: Perhaps you have so many images to share that they won’t all fit (or, at least, fit well) in 20 pages. Click this button to add another page. The empty page appears in your layout at the beginning of the book by default, but you can drag it anywhere you like. Double-click this page (or any page, for that matter), and you’ll see a small gray bubble above the page.

If you click the left side of this bubble, you can choose the number of pictures to place on the page (the number varies depending on the size and kind of book you’ve chosen). Select a number of images, and a submenu appears where you can choose how the images are laid out. You can also elect to make this a text page, a page that displays a map, a two-page spread, or a blank page. Click the right side of the bubble to choose the page’s background color.

Configuring your book's page layout.

If you click an image on the page, you have the option to resize and frame it. To resize it (make it bigger or smaller), just drag the slider that appears above the image. When you’re happy with its size, click and drag on it to place it exactly where you want it in the frame.

Layout: I’m afraid I’ve already given away the majority of the Layout pane’s purposes. Click it, and you can choose a page’s background color (you can also use another photo as the background image and then change its size and transparency using the controls that appear). You can choose the number of pictures that will appear on the page, as well. To change where they appear, just drag them to a new position on the page.

Options: Clicking this button produces controls for choosing a different border style for your images. For instance, you can select a style that includes an area for a caption. When you click that caption area, text tools appear, allowing you to change the text’s style. Another style might add shadows so that your image appears to be a “real” photo not completely glued to the page, for example.

This pane also includes an Effects area, where you can quickly apply black-and-white, sepia, and antique effects to your selected image. And if the image needs a bit of touching up, just click Edit Photo to bring up iPhoto’s editing tools.

It’s in this pane that you’ll additionally find the Book Settings button. Click it, and you’ll see three options: Auto-layout pages, Include Apple logo at the end of the book, and Show page numbers. These are simple on/off options.

Photos: Maybe you’d like to take a more hands-on approach to creating your book. For example, you’ve selected your Last 12 Months album with the idea of creating a year-in-review book for your child’s grandparents, but you don’t want to create a book that includes every image from the past year. Sure, you could sort through those photos, create an album, and then work with what you’ve selected. But you have another way.

Select that Last 12 Months album, click Create, and then select Book. The usual Book interface appears. Click the Create button, and iPhoto produces a window declaring that you’ve selected a mean mess of photos. Choose the option to create an empty book, and click OK. Now click the Photos button.

A pane will appear that includes all the photos within that album. All you have to do is double-click the page you want to work with and drag photos from this pane onto the page, filling blank spaces or replacing existing photos. Repeat for other pages until your book is assembled. To help keep things straight, you can choose to view only unplaced photos. You can also view pictures that appear in the albums under the Recent heading in iPhoto’s library pane.

Two buttons at the bottom of this pane offer some intriguing possibilities. Suppose you’ve allowed iPhoto to lay out your book automatically, and you’re not entirely happy with the results. You’d like to try something different, but you don’t want to edit each page. Try the following trick instead.

Have iPhoto try again with your newly arranged pictures using the Autoflow button.

Click the Clear Placed Photos button. In the window that appears, click Remove. Now, in the Photos pane, drag your pictures around to place them in the order you’d like them to appear. When you’ve done that, click the Autoflow button. You’ll see a window stating that any unplaced photos will be added to the end of your book. In this case, you have no placed images, because you’ve cleared them. Click Autoflow in this window, and iPhoto will lay out the book again, but this time using the order you just created.

Buy Book: Finally, your book is arranged just the way you want it. To complete the process, click Buy Book. On the Your Order page, you can see the details about your book—its kind, price, and number of pages. You can choose to order more than one copy and select a shipping method (as well as calculate tax and the delivery date). When you’re ready to order, click Check Out. Apple will charge the order to the credit card associated with your Apple ID, and will ship the book to you (or to the address you designate) when it’s ready.

Subscribe to the MacWeek Newsletter