How to use iPhoto's Faces and Places features

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Going Places

The Places feature is most convenient when your images have location data already planted within them, but it’s also possible to add locations after the fact. Let’s see how Places works in each case.

Images with embedded location data

I’ve explained that iPhoto scans your images for faces as it imports them. During this same import process, it’s looking for location data that’s embedded in your images. When it finds such data, it makes note of it and adds a pin to the map that appears when you click on the Places entry in iPhoto’s Album pane.

At first glance you’ll likely think, “Wait, I’ve taken pictures in more than seven places on earth.” And there’s a very good chance that’s true. To confirm your suspicion, zoom in on the map by dragging iPhoto’s Zoom slider to the right. (Or push your mouse’s scrollwheel forward, or, if you have a trackpad, drag two fingers forward.) When you do this, you’ll discover that the single pin you’ve zoomed in on is now a cluster of pins, each denoting a place where you’ve taken a picture.

Red pins denote images with appended geolocation information.

When you click a pin it turns orange, indicating that it’s selected, and the name of the location (as best as iPhoto can determine) will appear in a bubble above the pin. Click the right-pointing triangle within the bubble, and a screen appears that displays all the pictures taken at that location.

This isn’t the only way to view locations. At the top of the map screen you’ll spy a dark gray bar that, in the United States, contains Home, Countries, States, Cities, and Places entries. Click the Home icon to see the world map completely zoomed out. The Countries menu contains any countries in which you’ve taken pictures.

If you’ve selected a country other than the United States, the entries to the right will change, reflectiing that country’s regional makeup. For example, if you’ve taken shots in Denmark’s capital, those entries will read Denmark > Capital Region > Copenhagen. If you’ve taken other geotagged shots in Denmark, you should find additional entries under the Capital Region and Copenhagen headings.

You can navigate to locations using the series of menus at the top of the Locations window.

If you click the Show Photos button at the bottom of the window, you’ll spy all the images that appear within the selected region—all of Hawaii, for example, rather than just pictures taken in Maui. You can easily create an album of images from the selected region by clicking the Smart Album button at the bottom of the window. And you can search your photos via location information by entering the name of a place in the Search field at the lower left corner of the window.

Adding location data

It’s only in the last couple of years that cameras with the ability to geotag images have become commonplace. If you have an older camera—or a lot of images from a camera you no longer use—you can still take advantage of the Places feature. It does require, however, that you do the heavy lifting by tagging your images with location data. Here’s how.

Select an image (or group of images) that you’d like to assign a location to, and click the Info button at the bottom of the iPhoto screen. In the pane that appears, you should see a world map with a dark gray bar above. Click Assign a Place and begin typing the name of the place where you took the picture. You can enter something as general as California or as specific as Fisherman’s Wharf. iPhoto will make suggestions in a menu that appears below. Select the one you like and press Return.

Select images and geotag them by entering a location name in the small map area.

When you’ve done that, a tiny arrow appears to the right of the name and a small map appears below with a red pin that denotes the location you’ve entered. Within this small map, you drag the pin to a new location that better reflects the place where the image was really captured. Use the plus (+) and minus ( – ) buttons to zoom in and out on the map, and click the Target button to center the pin in the middle of the map. You can additionally click and drag the pin on the map to change its location.

It’s also within this small map that you can personalize a pin’s name. For example, while the pin may be stuck to Bumblybrook, Arkansas, you can click the pin to expose a gray field. Enter a personalized name into this field such as Jo-Jo’s Shack, and press Return or click the checkmark icon. You can now search specifically for Jo-Jo’s abode rather than the larger Bumblybrook metropolis.

When you click the small arrow next to the location you’ve entered, the map expands to fill much of the iPhoto window. Again, the location you entered is denoted by a red pin. In this case you can’t reposition the pin.

Whether you use Faces or Places, you’ll find that iPhoto’s Search field becomes more helpful. Instead of clicking Events, Photos, Faces, or Places, simply click the Search button in the lower left corner of the iPhoto window and enter a favorite location—or the name of the person—you wish to find. All matching images will appear in the resulting window.

Next week: The final bits

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