Using iPhoto Albums and Smart Albums

Your iPhoto library is organized into events. But you can also create as many albums as you want to arrange your photos in a variety of ways. You can create collections that contain cross-sections of your photos and use them in sharing, slideshows, syncing and printing. You can also create Smart Albums that use search criteria to update themselves with photos that have something in common.
Video Transcript / Captions
Closed captioning for this video is available on YouTube: Using iPhoto Albums and Smart Albums.

Hi, this is Gary with Let's talk about Albums and Smart Albums in iPhoto.

I'm using iPhoto version 9.5. I'm going to show you how to use Albums and Smart Albums.

In iPhoto you have Events and Photos. Both are ways to look at your complete library of photos. So you can look at all your individual events and look inside an event to see each photo there. Every photo exists in some event in one place. Photos is just a way to look at all your photos but not inside Events. So all the photos are just in one big list here. The photos are the same. This photo here of the Alaskan mountains is the same as the one inside this Event. Just two different ways of looking at it. Grouped as events or just not grouped at all but in one huge list.

Now, in addition to that you can also create Albums. You do that by going File/New Album. I'm going to create an empty album here and then what I'm going to do is to go into Photos and drag and drop photos to it. Another thing I could have done was I could have selected a bunch of photos and done New Album and it would have instantly created an album with those photos in it. I can still drag and drop new photos in there to add more.

So here I've created this. Now the photos are still in their Event, each there once. But these are kind of links to them. The same kind of thing as Playlist in iTunes. The photos are in one place and yet you can have an album that combines several photos.

I can create another New Album here and I can put some of the same photos and some different photos inside of this one. So you can see I've got Test and Test 2 and the same photo exists in both of them and it exists inside its Event and inside the Photos list. But it is only there once. It is only one single photo and you are seeing it and looking at multiple ways of organizing what you are seeing.

So Albums are basically links. Shortcuts, alias, or kind of like Playlists in iTunes.

Now what is great about Albums is they are really useful for doing different things that you would do with iPhoto. Say just viewing these photos as a group. So you can take your favorite photos from a recent trip and put them in an Album so when you want to show them to somebody, either on your Mac or if you synced them to your iPhone or iPad, you can show them the ones that are in your album and not all your photos you have in your Events.

You can also, as group, do things like create a book, export, print all the photos in here. The same thing as iTunes playlist. You can play the songs in the playlist even though the songs belong to other albums elsewhere in iTunes.

It is important to note that when you delete a photo from an Album, Im going to just select this one and hit the delete key, I am removing it from the Album but the photo is still there. If I go to the Photo list I see it there. I haven't removed the photo from iPhoto. The photo is still there. It just is no longer part of this Album. As a matter of fact it is still part of the second album here. It is important to remember that.

If you go to Events and decide to remove a photo from here, THAT is really going to delete it from your iPhoto collection.

The Smart Album is a different type of album. Instead of you manually putting photos in a Smart Album, a Smart Album is going to grab its photos based on search criteria.

So we're going to create one here and you can do all sorts of things for conditions here. For instance, Camera Model. You can say create a Smart Album with all the pictures that were taken on, let's say, my old Olympus camera which took some of my oldest photos. Hit okay. Then I've got in this Test Smart, this album called Test Smart, I've all these photos. These were all taken with that camera. So you can do all sorts of different types of searches.

If I control click on this I can actually edit this and say, instead of doing that let's search by the type of photo, whether a flash was used, keywords that you are using in iPhoto for various things, and all sorts of different things including if you used Faces, who is in the photo. So a lot of different things you can do and you can add more criteria. So I can say camera model is this but also from certain albums, or with certain file names, all sorts of different criteria here.

The cool thing is that this will automatically update. So, for instance, if I said do it with anything taken with my iPhone 5, and right now it won't bring up much in this sample collection it will bring up one photo, but if I then import more photos from my iPhone 5 it will automatically update Test Smart here, this smart album, to include those. So I can always go to the Smart Album to find photos that match that criteria. I can have a whole bunch of different ones.

You can also do dates. So you can create a Smart Album that is in the last thirty days. So all the photos in the last thirty days will always be in this Smart Album. This could do some handy organizational features like for instance you can say photo is and then you can say Movie. So you can find all the videos that you have in your iPhoto collection doing this and automatically have a smart folder that shows you all of your videos. You can even look for photos that have been edited. Things like that. Photos that have GPS as opposed to others that do not or look for photos that do not have GPS.

So there is a lot you can do with Smart Albums. You can create as many of these as you want and populate the left side Albums with Smart Albums and edit and update them and remove them.

Comments: 6 Responses to “Using iPhoto Albums and Smart Albums”

    Linda Taylor
    5 years ago

    Great video Gary. I’m using iPhoto ’11 and want to create a Smart Album that contains the low resolution photos I’ve saved from Facebook. I want to easily know the photo that aren’t good enough to print.
    Thanks for all the help you’ve given me!

      5 years ago

      So these are photos that you’ve download from the Facebook website, and then imported into iPhoto? You may want to consider storing them in a folder instead of iPhoto. I always think of my iPhoto library as “my photos” — as in “photos I have taken.” But if you want to store other photos in there too, that’s fine. I’m not sure how you would identify them in with Smart Folder criteria. You’ll need to experiment and it depends on where the rest of your photos are from. For instance, if all of the rest of your photos have camera model or ISO information and these do not, then you have your criteria. So try some things, experiment. Or, just tag those photos as you bring them into iPhoto.

    5 years ago

    Ive been trying to organize my photos, so I’ve created files for every year and then every month and then different events in each month I thought I could use Smart Albums to search the album files on the left hand side of the iphoto page…but it wont work…so, for instance, if I want a smart album to collect all my passover photos from the past years, will it only search the photos which I need to label or is there a way to search albums? Thanks!

      5 years ago

      So you are trying to search by album name? Just create a smart album that matches “Any Text” to the term in the album name, like “Passover.” That should give you all of the photos in any album that contains that keyword.

        5 years ago

        NOPE wouldnt do it. No matter what I tried. Would do some. SO Im just working from photo events files now. Will most likely buy Lightbox or something better. Annoying. THANKS!!

          5 years ago

          It definitely works for me. Perhaps you should get an expert to take a first-hand look. There’s probably something very simple you are doing or have set that would be quick to figure out.

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