Create 'per roll' iPhoto Smart Albums

Apple’s iPhoto (this hint only tested in iPhoto 6; it may work in 4 and 5) offers a number of ways to help you organize your shots. Albums (File: New Album) and Smart Albums (File: New Smart Album) are two of the more obvious methods available. If you look in iPhoto’s preferences (iPhoto: Preferences) and click on the General tab, though, you’ll see a couple more— Show last n months album and Show last n roll album , where n is a number you can set (it defaults to 12 for the months and 1 for the roll). In particular, I find the last roll album quite useful when I want to see just my newest pictures. However, sometimes I’d also like to see the second or third newest. You might think you’d be able to do this by just telling iPhoto to show two or three albums in the last roll album, and you’d be right. If you want to have the five newest rolls always available in their own albums, though, the preferences setting won’t help—Smart Albums will.

Create a new Smart Album by pressing Command-Option-N. Name it Newest roll , set the condition to Roll • Is In The Last • 1 • Rolls, then click OK. This first Smart Album will always contain your most-recently-created roll.

Create another Smart Album, and name this one 2nd Newest Roll . This album will have two conditions:

  • Match all of the following conditions
  • Roll • Is Not In The Last • 1 • Rolls
  • Roll • Is In The Last • 2 • Rolls

This Smart Album tells iPhoto to get all rolls that are within the last two, but to ignore the most recent one—this leaves just the second-newest roll in the selection. When you’re done, it should look like this:

Click OK to create this rule, and then repeat the above for as many rolls as you’d like to track. All you need to do is increase the roll counts for subsequent rules:

  • For the third most recent roll, you’d set the Not In The Last condition to 2 , and the In The Last condition to 3 .
  • For the fourth most recent roll, you’d set the Not In The Last condition to 3 and the In The Last condition to 4 .
  • For the fifth most recent roll, you’d set the Not In The Last condition to 4 and the In The Last condition to 5 .
  • And so on.

Once you have all your Smart Albums set up, you can then use a folder to organize them. Just choose File: New Folder, and give it a meaningful name, such as Recent Rolls. Then drag all of your roll-tracking Smart Albums into this new folder. Now you’ve got one-click access to any of your recent rolls, with each one viewable on its own.

Other Smart Smart Albums

Once you understand this technique, you can create some other tricky Smart Albums. Want to see all of the pictures you took two months ago, and have it automatically update as time moves on? Just create a new Smart Album that looks like this:

That’s it! Now you’ve got a Smart Album that will always show you pictures from two months ago. You could easily do the same thing with days or weeks, just by changing the pop-up value for the time period.

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