Renaming and exporting iPhoto images

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Like a lot of people, reader Rob Grimshaw has been less than vigilant about naming his photos after importing them into iPhoto and he’s learning to regret his lax ways. He writes:

I and my family have used five different Canon cameras, which name the photos with a sequential number. iPhoto handles this just fine, but trying to back-up or copy the pictures produces error messages of duplicate names. Is there an easy way to resolve the duplicate names, short of going thru it all manually?

Rob, iPhoto 08’s Events, Batch Change command, and Export options were meant for you — and those like you. With them at your command you can easily convert the titles of the photos in your library and then export the images with unique file names. I’d try this:

Select the Event entry in iPhoto’s Library list. In the window to the right, select an event — your kid’s birthday party, for example. Choose Photos -> Batch Change. In the sheet that appears choose Title from the Set pop-up menu and Text from the pop-up menu to its right. Enter a title that you’d like to assign to your pictures in the field below. Enable the Append a Number To Each Photo option and click OK. The images in that event will adopts a new title — Kid’s BDay - 1, Kid’s BDay - 2 … for example.

(Of course you don't have to edit entire Events, you’re welcome to do this with images you’ve selected in another way. Using Events is faster, but may cause you to rename more images that you care to.)

Okay, you’ve changed the Title tag for your images but you’ll notice that when you drag one of those images to the Desktop the copy retains the name assigned by your camera, not the title you just imposed in iPhoto. That’s where the Export command comes in.

Select the events or images you want to back up (the ones you changed the name of) and choose File -> Export. In the resulting Export Photos window, make sure the File Export tab is selected and choose Use Title from the File Name pop-up menu. Leave the Kind pop-up menu at Current. Click Export, navigate to where you’d like your photos to be copied, and click OK. The copies will be created with the unique sequential title you chose.

Repeat for other photos.

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