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How to Make Images Bigger or Smaller with iPhoto

written by: Amy Carson•edited by: Rebecca Scudder•updated: 10/31/2011

Do your photos get stretched when you use them as your desktop background? This tutorial shows you how to crop your images in iPhoto to fit perfectly within your monitor, every time.

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    Apple's iPhoto, introduced in 2002, revolutionized photo storage and manipulation. Now everyone can have one central place to warehouse their digital images, and we've got hundreds, if not thousands, of snapshots in one easily accessible place.

    iPhoto has also ushered in an era of ultimate desktop customization. Besides abstract backgrounds and famous images, we now also want to put a personal touch to the desktop: family photos, vacation snapshots — pictures we've taken.

    The only problem is, when you set your desktop to an iPhoto image, it's either not going to fill up the screen or it will be stretched out of proportion, especially if you use a Cinema Display.

    Here's how to crop your images in iPhoto to the dimensions of your monitor.

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    1. Select the picture you want as your desktop.

    Duplicate it (command-D) if you want to keep your original photo intact and uncropped. I recommend doing this, as once you leave the Edit screen the changes you’ve made are saved and cannot be undone.

    duplicating the original photo, so we can edit it safely 

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    2. Click the Edit button. It's in the bottom row of icons in the iPhoto window.

    the edit button! 

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    3. You’ll see a dropdown button with the label “Constrain" below it.

    Click it, and your display’s dimensions will be the first option. Select it. In this case (see screenshot) it's my 1680 x 1060 Cinema Display.

    constrain your crop to your display's dimensions (1680 x 1050 in this case) 

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    4. A rectangle in the shape of your monitor appears over your photo.

    The areas outside the rectangle are lighter in order to highlight your crop area. Move the rectangle until you’re satisfied with the position.

    positioning the crop preview 

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    5. Click “Crop" and then “Done."

    In the iPhoto window, click “Desktop" and your photo will become your wallpaper. Now your photo is a perfectly-proportioned desktop background!

    the cropped photo 

    our perfectly-proportioned photo as a desktop background 

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    I love designing and helping people with their Macs. If you have any questions you’d like to see answered, please click my name up top and then “send a message" or e-mail me at


  • All images taken by the author.
  • Author's personal experience.

iPhoto and your Mac desktop: Tutorials

Use iPhoto to resize your photos for your desktop with this tutorial, and learn how to use several photos in a constantly-changing desktop background gallery.
  1. How to Make Images Bigger or Smaller with iPhoto
  2. How to Make a Wallpaper Slideshow in iPhoto