Access a system-wide photo browser

If you like to use your photos in documents, or even send them to friends and family, you know that you can drag photos from iPhoto into just about any application. But at times, you may want to grab a photo without launching iPhoto just to get a single picture; the program can take a while to launch if you have a lot of pictures and if you have a slower Mac.

But there’s a way in Mac OS X 10.4 to make a mini-application that serves as a system-wide photo browser, giving you quick access to your entire iPhoto library.

  1. Open Automator and click iPhoto.
  2. From the list of actions, select Ask for Photos, and drag it to the right-hand pane.
  3. Save this as an application. Put it anywhere you want—in your Applications folder, perhaps, and even drag it to the Dock if you plan to use it often.

Just open this application, and you’ll see the iPhoto browser:

Scroll through your entire library, select an album and scroll through its contents, or search for a photo by its title or keywords using the Spotlight search field. When you find a photo you want to use, just drag it to the Desktop, to a folder, or straight into a document or e-mail message. You can also select multiple photos by holding down the Command key and clicking on several pictures.

You may find that this is even faster than iPhoto for finding pictures, and the only difference is that you don’t have iPhoto's export options, such as changing the size of photos: dragging pictures from this browser gives you full-sized photos.

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