A Workflow Process Review for iPhoto 08. Part I: Review and Keyword.


Those of you who read my review of the latest iPhoto know that I’m very pleased with this product. In my opinion It’s not only the best of the “free” photo organizers/editors on the Mac or PC — especially given its integration with other Apple applications — but it’s also a great program in its own right. While most of the attention to the update was given to Events, in my opinion the better enhancements were in keywords, and borrowing from Aperture for its revised editing tools.

My review centered primarily on typical photo enhancements I perform, but I’ve adapted a workflow to best utilize the product’s capabilities, and have other tips and suggestions I’d like to point out in more depth than in the review. I hope some of these will be useful.

Compare and Select.

The first thing you want to do after importing a new set of pictures is identify the keepers, the losers, and the in-betweens. This is typically the biggest pain in the neck portion of photo management, to the point that some people just pick a few they like and leave all the rest as is. But iPhoto makes this process quick and easy.

The best way to do this is in Full Screen mode, where you get the best view of each photo with the fewest distractions. Once you import a batch of photos into an Event, simply open the Event and enter full screen mode (Cmd-Opt-F).

How you setup your full screen defaults is up to you. I choose to auto-hide the toolbar and to always show thumbnails (these are controlled from the View menu). I run the thumbnails down the left-hand side of the screen in a single column. The picture at the top of this article shows what my screen looks like.

Once in full screen, review each picture and make one of four decisions:

  • It’s crap. The picture is a loser and can be deleted. Hit “delete”; its moved to the trash and goes to the next picture.
  • It’s great. The picture is better than average. Hit Cmd-1 to rate it at one star, then hit the right arrow key to move to the next picture. Do not attempt to determine how many stars it should get at this time. That will just slow you down. It’s good enough for now to rate it at one, we’ll revisit the rated photos later.
  • It’s OK, but either too similar to others or borderline crap. In either case I’d hide it. This keeps from having to look at it every time, but doesn’t delete it because it’s good enough to keep around. Hit Cmd-L; it gets hidden and goes to the next picture.
  • The fourth option is choosing none of the above. Chances are most pictures fall into this category. They’re not bad enough to delete, not really good enough to rate, and unique enough not to hide. Just hit the right arrow key to go to the next photo.

Once you’ve done this process a couple of times you’ll find you can take an initial pass through newly imported photos very quickly. I used to dread this initial process, but with iPhoto can breeze though hundreds of photos. You get the largest possible view of each photo, make a quick decision, hit a couple of keys, and you’re at the next photo. You never leave the screen or do anything that breaks your concentration.

Once you’re done, hit escape to exit full screen mode. Click the trash icon under “Recent” in the iPhoto sidebar and verify you want to delete these photos. Assuming you do, right-click the trash and select Empty Trash.

Assign Keywords.

The next step is to keyword the photos. This is a great tool for organization and makes it easier to find photos later. You want to do this now while the photo are still fresh in your mind, both from the shoot itself and from just having done a review of them all. How detailed you want to get with your keywords is up to you. Right now mine are relatively broad in scope but have served me well.

You can apply keywords a few ways, but in this article we’re talking about having numerous photos from a fresh import. Therefore, instead of rating them one at a time I’d group-select a batch and assign them that way.

Open the Event in the iPhoto window, and also display the Keywords window (Cmd-K). If you hid any photos in the process above, make sure you click “Show xx hidden photos” in the upper-right corner of the event display so that hidden photos will also have keywords applied.

keywords_1.jpgTo start, in many cases every photo in an event may have a broad keyword that applies, so just select them all and click the appropriate keyword button. For the screenshot presented here, I hit Cmd-A and then clicked Foliage. After assigning keywords broadly, you then shift- or command-click specific photos and click the appropriate button to apply their keyword.

If there are keywords you use a lot, drag them to the Quick Bar at the top of the Keywords window, then assign them via their shortcut letter. For common keywords this saves a lot of mousing around and is very useful. You can assign the shortcut letter yourself (or change it) by clicking Edit Keywords in the window. If you need new keywords for this Event, add them via Edit Keywords as well.

We’ll stop here for now. At this point you’ve combed through a new imported Event of photos, weeded out the bad ones, rated the ones you’ll process further, hidden the ones you may not need, and assigned your keywords. It really doesn’t matter whether the new Event has 25 photos or 300, the process is the same.

In the next article we’ll re-visit the photos you rated ,and look into ways that make it easy to compare similar photos to help determine which is “best” (i.e., find the cream of the crop).

1 thought on “A Workflow Process Review for iPhoto 08. Part I: Review and Keyword.

  1. Thanks for this practical workflow. I will try it tonight!

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