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Organize Your Pictures Manually or with iPhoto’s Smart Albums

written by: Joli Ballew•edited by: J. F. Amprimoz•updated: 2/6/2009

The pictures on your Mac can be organized in a number of ways. You can manage the pictures manually using the Pictures folder, you can use iPhoto’s automatic folders, you can use third-party software, or, employ iPhoto’s Smart Album feature.

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    Management 101

    If you’ve transferred your pictures from another computer, say a PC or another Mac, they may simply be stored in the Pictures folder and might not be organized at all. If you use iPhoto, you might know that you can create themed albums, assign custom keywords, add comments to pictures, and sort and organize them in any number of other ways. If you use a third-party picture organizer instead of iPhoto, you have additional choices, depending on the software used. Because I can’t assume you are using iPhoto religiously, for now I’ll simply introduce some basic organizational ideas for your Pictures folder and libraries. These ideas can be transferred to other software programs including your digital camera’s software. You can use the menus included with the application to create new folders or albums and to move data into them.

    Organizing pictures is the same as organizing the Documents or the Home folder. Take inventory of what types of pictures you have, create folders for them, and then move the pictures into them.

    After taking inventory, consider creating subfolders: Client Artwork, EPS Files, Family and Friends, and so on, each of which will eventually contain data, subfolders, or both.

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    Use iPhoto’s Smart Album Feature

    There’s a better way to organize your pictures though. Using iPhoto’s Smart Album feature, you can create albums that chronicle an event such as a vacation or party, or you can create an album that holds specific types of pictures, such those of sunsets, animals, a sport, or an invention. iPhoto’s Smart Albums feature lets you specify what you want a particular album to hold, and the albums are updated each time you add pictures to iPhoto.

    Follow these steps to create a new Smart Album:

    1. Open iPhoto and choose File>New Smart Album.

    2. In the Smart Album Name text box, type a name for the new album.

    3. To have iPhoto add photos that match specific criteria, make appropriate selections from the available menus. For example, to create an album that contains all of the photos in your library that you have rated as 4 stars or higher, choose My Rating, choose In The Range Of, and choose four stars in the first window and five in the second.

    4. To add additional criteria, click the + sign.

    5. Click OK when finished.