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2.3. Importing Photos

After you've chosen preferences, you're ready to import photos from your digital camera, a memory card, a folder, or even an e-mail message.

2.3.1. Importing photos from your digital camera

Here's how to import photos from your digital camera:

  1. If the camera connects directly to your Mac via USB, connect it (and switch it on, if necessary). Otherwise, remove the memory card from the camera and insert it in a memory card reader connected to your Mac.

  2. When Mac OS X notices the camera or memory card containing photos, it launches or activates iPhoto and prompts you to import the photos (see figure 2.8).


    If you chose No application or another application than iPhoto in the Connecting camera opens pop-up menu in iPhoto's General preferences (as discussed earlier in this chapter), you must import the photos into iPhoto manually. See the next section for details.

  3. Type a descriptive name for the Event in the Event Name text box.

  4. If you want, type a generic description for the photos in the Description text box. You can give each photo its own description later.

  5. If you want iPhoto to split the photos into different Events by date and time, select the Autosplit Events After Importing check box. iPhoto uses the Event length you set in Events preferences earlier in this chapter — for example, one day, or two hours.

  6. If the camera or memory card contains photos you've imported before, select the Hide photos already imported check box to make iPhoto hide these photos so you don't try to import them again. Hiding the photos you've already imported also lets iPhoto show you the new photos on the camera or memory card more quickly.

    Figure 2.8. Mac OS X automatically opens iPhoto and displays thumbnails of the photos on the camera or storage card you've connected.

  7. Choose which photos you want to import:

    • To import all the photos shown, click Import All.

    • To import only some of the photos, select them by dragging across a range or by clicking the first photo and then holding down while you click each of the other photos. Then click Import Selected.

  8. iPhoto imports the photos you chose, and then prompts you to delete the photos from the camera or memory card (see figure 2.9).

Importing Videos from Your Digital Camera

If your digital camera takes video files as well as still photos, you can easily import the videos into iPhoto along with the still photos. iPhoto shows a white camera icon in the lower left corner of the thumbnail for each video file. Otherwise, the procedure for importing videos is the same as for still photos.


If you want to add the photos to a specific album, you can simply drag them from the camera or memory card to that album. In the album, iPhoto creates references to the photos, so they show up in it. iPhoto also adds the photos to your library as usual.

Figure 2.9. Choose whether to let iPhoto delete the photos from the camera or memory card. Dealing with duplicate imported photos

When importing pictures from a camera, it's all too easy to import some of them twice — for example, because you forgot to reformat the memory card after putting it back in the camera.

iPhoto helps you avoid duplicate imports by warning you when you're about to import a digital photo you've already imported, even if you've changed the version that's already in iPhoto. Figure 2.10 shows an example of the warning.

Figure 2.10. iPhoto makes certain you know you're importing a duplicate photo. In this example, the version that's already in the library has been changed.

Select the Apply to all duplicates check box if you want iPhoto to carry your decision through to all duplicate photos in the batch you're importing rather than prompt you to rule on each one. Then click Import if you want to import the photo anyway, Don't Import to skip importing it, or Cancel if you want to cancel the import. Ejecting the camera's volume

After importing all the pictures you want from the camera or the memory card, eject the camera or memory card by clicking the Eject button next to it in the Source list. Alternatively, Control+click or right-click the camera or memory card in the Source list and then click Eject. When iPhoto removes the camera or memory card from the Source list, you can safely unplug it.

Never unplug your digital camera or memory card reader without ejecting it. Doing so normally produces a Device Removal error message in Mac OS X, but it can also cause iPhoto or even Mac OS X to stop responding.

2.3.2. Importing photos with the Import command

If your photos are in a folder or on a CD or DVD rather than on a camera or a memory card, you can bring them into your library by using the Import command.

  1. Choose File Import to Library or press +Shift+I to open the Import Photos dialog box.

  2. Select the photos you want to import. You can import either an entire folder or one or more photos from within a folder.

  3. Click Import.


When you import a folder of photos from a Windows PC on your network, iPhoto may display the Unreadable Files dialog box telling you that a file named Thumbs.db could not be imported because it is in an unrecognized format. Don't worry — simply click OK and disregard the error. Thumbs.db is a database file Windows builds that contains thumbnail versions of the photos. You don't need to import this file into iPhoto.

2.3.3. Importing photos from the Finder or e-mail

Instead of using the Import command, you can simply select a photo — or several, or a folder containing photos — in a Finder window and drag it to the viewing area in iPhoto to add the photo or photos to your library.

If you receive a photo in the body of an e-mail message, you can drag the photo from your e-mail application (such as Mail or Entourage) to the viewing area in iPhoto.

If you receive a photo as an attachment in Mail, click and hold down the Save button on the attachment line, and then choose Add to iPhoto from the menu that appears. In other e-mail applications, you may need to save the attached photo to a folder, and then drag the photo from a Finder window to the viewing area in iPhoto.

Understanding Which Picture Formats iPhoto Can Handle

You can use several different photo file formats with iPhoto. These are the three file formats for which iPhoto provides full support:

  • JPEG. A file format developed by the Joint Photographic Experts Group, JPEG is the most widely used format for digital photos. JPEG typically uses lossy compression (compression in which data is discarded) to reduce the file size of the photos but maintains high enough quality for general use. Many digital cameras take only JPEGs; others take JPEGs unless you change the file format.

  • TIFF. The Tagged Image File Format uses either no compression or lossless compression (compression in which no data is discarded) to store images at full quality. Some digital cameras can create TIFF files as well as JPEG files.

  • RAW. As discussed earlier in this chapter, a RAW file is a digital negative that stores minimally processed data. When you work with RAW files in iPhoto, iPhoto actually saves the results as a JPEG file or a TIFF file (depending on your choice in Advanced preferences).

These three file formats can all contain metadata, information about the photos such as the date and time they were taken, the camera and exposure used, and other details. You can view this information by choosing Photos Show Extended Photo Info or pressing +I. iPhoto can read metadata from all three formats but can write metadata only to the JPEG and TIFF formats.

You can import other types of photos into iPhoto, such as PNG (Portable Network Graphics) files, but iPhoto doesn't fully support them.

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