Take care when you share

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I learned a valuable lesson on the recent Mac Mania IV cruise to Mexico: When it comes to sharing, treat your iPhoto library differently than your iTunes library.

I was sitting outside the Internet Center, chatting with a fellow instructor while mucking with some photos I’d just imported into iPhoto 6. I glance over at iPhoto’s Source list and spy the shared photo library of a passenger in the vicinity (I couldn’t see them, but knew they had to be close enough for my AirPort card to pick them up). Figuring that sharing wouldn’t have been switched on if this person didn’t want their pictures viewed, I took the opportunity to peek.

I found a compelling image and thought “Wouldn’t it be great it I could copy this image to my Mac just by clicking it like this and then dragging it to my iPhoto library and….”


The image copied to my Mac.

And that sounded any number of internal alarms.

I’m all for sharing iTunes libraries—it’s a great way to learn about new music and gain some insight into the tastes of the person whose library you’re listening to. But photos are far more personal. They can be not only revealing (and yes, in the world of developer-less photo processing, I mean this in every sense of the word) but also embarrassing and, well, personal . I’m happy to create slideshows of my family for the viewing pleasure of my nearest and dearest, but I’d feel more than a little uncomfortable learning that the overcoated creep in the coffee-shop corner was in possession of those same images.

Worse yet, some people use iPhoto as a presentation tool—storing slides that may reveal information of a business nature that’s best kept confidential. Do you really want the world to know of your plan to corner the bauxite market two weeks before the IPO hits?

So here’s a hint. Think twice and then think again before enabling the Share My Photos option in the Sharing tab of iPhoto’s preferences. If you’re going to share, consider preparing a select album or two of images you want to broadcast to the world, enabling the Share Selected Albums option, and choosing just those images intended for public consumption.

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