In the Hardware section of this website I teach you how to import photo and video files from your digital camera into the iPhoto application. In this section I will teach you how to manually import photo files that are already on your computer into the photo application called iPhoto.

Assuming, like me in this example, you already have some photo files (i.e. jpg files) inside your PICTURES folder the first step to importing all of them or just some of them is to open the application called iPhoto; located in the APPLICATIONS folder - Open FINDER, click on the APPLICATIONS folder and then double click on the IPHOTO application icon (Fig 1.0) to launch (run/open/execute) iPhoto itself (Fig 1.1).

Fig 1.0  Double click on the iPhoto application icon to launch (open/run/execute) the actual application called iPhoto

When iPhoto is opened (launched/executed) for the first time, as in the example below, you will be presented with its Welcome screen that informs you of certain ways you can import photograph files - Import photo files into the current library, Drag 'N' Drop photo files into its main window or Import photo files from a Digital Camera. In this example I will be showing you how to import photo files into the current library.

Libraries are just Photo Collections - You could have one library for your personal photos, one library for your work photos and one library for your children's photo collection. Think of libraries as different boxes containing a specific genre of photos or a scrapbook for each genre. When you first use iPhoto a generic library is created for you called iPhoto Library (full name: iPhoto Library.photolibrary). Don't worry too much about libraries at this point though.

Fig 1.1  Welcome to iPhoto! - You now have various methods of importing photo files into the iPhoto application

With iPhoto now ready the next step is to click on its FILE menu and select its IMPORT TO LIBRARY menu-item. This will bring up the Import Photos file requester (Fig 1.3 below) that allows you to specify a folder containing the photos (photo files) you want importing into the current iPhoto library. You can also use the file requester to import individual photos.

Fig 1.2  Click on the iPhoto FILE menu and then select its IMPORT TO LIBRARY menu-item

In the example below the Import Photos file requester is viewing the content of my PICTURES folder. If I click on the Holiday_Photos folder (sub-folder, of PICTURES) and then click on the IMPORT button all the photos (photo files) within the Holiday_Photos folder and its sub-folders will be imported. In this case I have sub-folders inside the Holiday_Photos folder called Europe_2005, Philippines_2010 and USA_2009.

Fig 1.3  Select a folder to import photo files from and then click on the IMPORT button

If I just want to import photos from my Europe_2005 folder (sub-folder of Holiday_Photos and sub-sub-folder of the main PICTURES folder) I would need to double click on the Holiday_Photos folder, to open it and see its content, and then select the Europe_2005 sub-folder before clicking on the IMPORT button. In other words, I have to navigate to the exact folder or sub-folder (i.e. Europe_2005) in order to only import photos from it and its sub-folders. So in this example clicking on the IMPORT button with the Europe_2005 sub-folder selected means only the photos within it and its sub-folders will be imported; Photos directly inside the main PICTURES folder and Holiday_Photos sub-folder will not be imported, because they have an higher hierarchy than Europe_2005 - They are above Europe_2005 and not within Europe_2005.

Fig 1.4  Select a sub-folder, or sub-sub-folder, and then click on the IMPORT button

After deciding which folder, sub-folder or sub-sub-folder to import from, selecting it and clicking on the IMPORT button you will then see a blue Import progress bar along with a preview of each photo that is being imported. The preview goes very fast so don't worry if you don't see every single photo whiz by.

Fig 1.5  The photos from my Europe_2005 folder and its sub-folders are now being previewed and imported

When the import process has completed the LAST IMPORT menu-item will be highlighted in the Sidebar window pane, to the left of the main Preview window pane, and in the main Preview window pane you will see a thumbnail (preview icon) for each imported photo (photo file). In this example I have scrolled down the main Preview window pane so I can see what Buckingham Palace photos have been imported.

Fig 1.6  Once the photos have been imported a thumbnail (preview icon) is created for each imported photo (photo file)

At this point you would normally click on the EVENTS menu-item, on the sidebar, to either organize the imported photos or to view them by event. Many people when first using iPhoto get confused about Events, Photos, Folders and Albums saying "What are they?"! This is mainly because of the terminology used. As always, Apple (and Microsoft) think that us humans need five different words to describe the same thing! Don't worry though as I will explain and example "these things" below.


An EVENT in iPhoto is just a fancy name for FOLDER, but not a photo album! Anything you import from a digital camera into iPhoto has an EVENT folder created for it, called UNTITLED by default. It's known as an EVENT folder because it supposed represent an event such as a Holiday or Wedding, even though your photos might not be an event. You might have photos of Flowers which do not represent a Gardening World Tour but just your garden, in which case you could rename the UNTITLED event MY GARDEN or FLOWER GARDEN for example.

Furthermore, in the case of importing photos from computer folders and sub-folders, the name of each imported folder or sub-folder will be used to name the Event. So in this example I have imported photos from the main Europe_2005 folder which has sub-folders inside it called TowerBridge, WindsorCastle, Hampton_Court, Trevi_Fountain, Vatican_ScalaSanta and so on. This means when the photos from the TowerBridge sub-folder are imported into iPhoto, iPhoto will create an Event (folder) for it called TowerBridge; which I could later rename if I want to. And when the WindsorCastle photos are imported an Event called WindsorCastle will be created by iPhoto. And the same applies for all the other sub-folders.

Fig 1.7  An event is just a standard folder created for the actual event (occasion) such as a Wedding folder or Holiday folder.

In this example an event called Europe_2005 was NOT created for that folder simply because it did not have any photos inside it. If it did, an event called Europe_2005 would of been created for it. So remember; The folder or sub-folder being imported should have photos inside it in order for an event to be created for it.

On top of the just said; Any photos imported into an iPhoto event are only stored locally within iPhoto. Meaning, only a copy of the original photos stored on your digital camera's memory card or computer will be imported into iPhoto events - The original photos on your digital camera or computer will NOT be affected by deleting an iPhoto event or photo from an iPhoto event. This is what many people don't realize when they delete a photo from iPhoto - They think they will be deleting the original photo on their digital camera or computer too when in fact the original photo will be left intact. This is why a better way to import photos into iPhoto is to first place a copy of the original photos inside the PICTURES folder on your computer and then use iPhoto's IMPORT TO LIBRARY option to import them; from the PICTURES folder as opposed to directly from your digital camera.


If you click on the PHOTOS folder on the sidebar, underneath the EVENTS folder, you will see an exact copy of the imported photos (imported events) such as TowerBridge and WindsorCastle in this case. The only difference is in the way they are displayed/viewed. So to clarify; the photos inside the PHOTOS folder (PHOTOS sidebar menu) are an exact copy of the imported photos (Events) - If you click on the VIEW menu of the iPhoto application and deselect (untick) the setting called EVENT TITLES you will see all the imported photos as one long preview of thumbnails (preview icons) within the PHOTOS folder (PHOTOS sidebar menu); one long PHOTOS folder (Fig 1.9 below).

Fig 1.8  The photos inside the PHOTOS folder (PHOTOS sidebar menu) are an exact copy of the imported photos (Events).

Fig 1.9  Click on the VIEW menu of the iPhoto application and deselect (untick) the setting called EVENT TITLES to view all the imported photos in one folder

If you delete a photo from the PHOTOS folder it will also be deleted from the Event, and vice versa. The same will be true for any Albums and Folders you create. The photos will also be deleted from those places.


Events are all well and good for organizing photos into specific events such as Wedding events (i.e. Church_Service event, Friends_Family event, The_Party event and The_Honeymoon event), but not so good for miscellaneous photos or photos that need to be in multiple/different events. With Albums and Folders it is possible to group event photos into individual albums and folders for better navigation and order. And what's even better is the albums and folders will only contain a photocopy of the original photos within the event. Meaning, all the photos will still be inside their original events (i.e. Wedding events) whilst a photocopy of the photos you have selected from those events will be inside their individual albums and folders.

To see what I mean; In this next example I have already created three albums (UK, France and Italy), by clicking on the FILE menu of the iPhoto application and selecting its NEW ALBUM menu-item (not shown here), and am now going to copy the photos from inside the UK based events (TowerBridge, Buckingham_Palace, etc) into the album called UK. This is done by selecting each UK based event with the CMD keyboard key held down, releasing the CMD keyboard key once all the UK based events have been highlighted in yellow and then dragging the UK based events across to the UK album. When I let go of the left mouse button (drop the UK based event photos) over the album called UK it will have 228 photos inside it - The combined total of photos from the UK based events.

Fig 1.10  Select the events you want to move into an album and then drag them into that album

I did not have to copy entire events. I could of selected certain photos from certain events, dragging and dropping them into the album called UK one selection at a time.

Fig 1.11  The album called UK now contains 228 photos - The combined total of photos from the UK based events.

Remember. The original UK based event photos (228 of them) are still inside their individual events, but now a photocopy of them are also inside one album called UK.


In this next example I have since deleted the three albums and now created a new folder called UK, by clicking on the FILE menu of the iPhoto application and selecting its NEW FOLDER menu-item (not shown here). When dragging events (event photos) or even individual photos into the folder called UK for the first time a new sub-folder is created for the photos, called: untitled album; even though it is a folder! And this is the slight difference between a folder and an album.

Fig 1.12  Dragging individual photos into a main folder will create an untitled sub-folder for them

With an album you can drag events (event photos) and individual photos into it whereby those photos will always be placed inside the album. However, with a folder those same dragged photos will be placed inside their own sub-folder. So if I drag and drop each event, one by one, over the UK folder I would end up with a sub-folder for each event; as this next example shows (TowerBridge, Buckingham_Palace and WindsorCastle). Furthermore, if I then drag and drop an individual photo over the Friends_Family folder a separate sub-folder will be created for it, called untitled album. In this example I have one sub-folder for Danny and one sub-folder for Tessie because I dropped their individual photos over the Friends_Family folder and renamed their untitled albums (sub-folders) accordingly.

Fig 1.13  Whole events (event photos) and individual photos can be dropped into a main folder and turned into sub-folders

Once a sub-folder (untitled album) has been created (and renamed) you can drop more photos into it. It doesn't mean each and every photo will have its own sub-folder (untitled album). I was just explaining, above, what happens when you first start dragging and dropping photos.

So to clarify; Dragging and dropping events (event photos) or individual photos into a specific album means a copy of those photos will be placed inside that specific album. Whereas dragging and dropping events (event photos) into a specific main folder (such as: UK) means a copy of those photos will be placed inside a new sub-folder that is named after the event itself. And dragging and dropping individual photos into a specific main folder (such as: UK) means a copy of those photos will be placed inside a newly created sub-folder called untitled album, unless the individual photos are being dropped over an existing sub-folder. So the real distinction between albums and folders is whether or not you want your photos in one place (i.e. one album) or grouped into sub-folders (sub-albums).


If you want to have an album with a certain criteria attached to it, such as a specific person in each photo or photos that were taken between certain dates, you can use a Smart Album - Click on the FILE menu of iPhoto and then select the NEW SMART FOLDER menu-item. In this last example I have since renamed my smart album Tessie whereby I have also used the Faces features of iPhoto to name the person in each photo. What this means is I can now create an album, called Tessie, whose only criteria is that it must contain photos with Tessie's face in them. They can contain other peoples faces too but the main face/person in each photo must ideally be Tessie's.

Fig 1.14  Create a new Smart Album with certain criterias

Fig 1.15  A Smart Album that primarily contains the face of a person called Tessie

You can add more criterias to a smart album by clicking on its PLUS button (Fig 1.14 above). I could limit the current smart folder to only contain Tessie photos that came from the Shakespeare event by adding the following criteria - EVENT CONTAINS Shakespeare. Smart Album criterias can be edited by right-clicking on the smart album and selecting the EDIT SMART ALBUM menu-item. Smart Albums are really ideal for absolutely isolating/grouping certain photos that have one or more certain criterias.