IN THIS CHAPTER
Importing pictures from your internal drive or digital camera
Organizing images with Photos
Tweaking the appearance of photographs
Sharing photos with your friends
For decades now, the Mac has been the choice of professional photographers for working with digital images — which is not surprising, considering the Mac’s graphical nature. Apple continues this tradition with Photos, its photography tool for the home user that can help you organize, edit, and even publish your photographs. (It sports more features than a handful of Swiss army knives.) After you shoot your photos with a smartphone or a digital camera, you can import them into Photos, edit them, and publish them. You’re not limited to photos that you take yourself, either; you can edit, share, and organize all kinds of digital image files, as well as video clips. You can even create a photo album and use the Photos interface to order a handsome softbound or hardbound copy shipped to you, or you can create a slideshow and upload it to YouTube.
In this chapter, I walk you through an overview of what Photos can do. After that, I give you a brief tour of the controls in Photos so that you can see what features are available to you, including those for managing, printing, and publishing your photos.
Figure 13-1 shows most of the major controls Photos offers. (Other controls appear automatically when you enter different modes; I cover them in upcoming sections.)
These controls and sections of the window are covered in more detail in the following sections. For now, here’s a quick rundown of what you see when you launch Photos and click the Photos mode button in the top center of the screen:
Viewer: This pane displays the images from your Photos library. You can click and drag or ⌘ +click to select photos in the Viewer for further tricks, such as assigning keywords and editing images.
Full Screen: Click the Full Screen/Maximize button in the top-left corner of the window (or press Control+⌘ +F) to switch to full-screen display of your photos. In full-screen mode, you can double-click a thumbnail to view the image in your Mac’s entire screen real estate. (The toolbar is still available at any time: Just move your pointer to the top of the screen to display it.) Press Esc to return to windowed mode.
Choose View ⇒ Always Show Toolbar and Sidebar in Full Screen to prevent the toolbar and sidebar from disappearing in full-screen mode.
Even a superbly designed image-display and -editing application such as Photos would be overwhelming if everything were jammed into one window. Thus, Apple’s developers provide operational modes such as editing and book creation that you can use in the one Photos window. Each mode allows you to perform different tasks.
In this section, I discuss three of these modes — import, organize, and edit — and what you can do when you’re in them.
In import mode, you’re ready to download images and video clips directly from your digital camera — and you’re not limited to cameras, of course. You can also import items from a folder on your internal drive, a memory-card reader such as the SDXC card slot, an external USB drive, or even a Kodak PhotoCD (if you have an external DVD drive).
Follow these steps to import images directly from your camera:
Connect your digital camera to your Mac.
Plug one end of a USB cable into your camera and the other end into your computer’s USB port.
Prepare your camera to download files.
The procedure for downloading images and video varies by camera, but the process usually involves turning the camera on and choosing a Download or PC mode. Check your camera’s user guide for more details.
Your Mac probably launches Photos automatically when it detects your camera, but you can always launch Photos manually by clicking the Photos icon on the Dock or within Launchpad.
Select the device in the Sidebar.
Photos displays all the images and video clips currently stored on your camera in the Viewer.
Click the Import To drop-down menu and choose a destination for the imported files.
You can choose an existing album, create a new album, or simply add the imported photos to your library.
Click the Import All New Items button to import all new files from the camera.
To select specific images to import, hold down the ⌘ key and click each desired photo; then click Import Selected instead of Import All New Photos.
The images and clips initially appear within the Last Import album in your Photos library, where you can organize them as you want.
Note that Photos automatically groups imported images and video by the year, month, and date when the files were created, if your camera stores this information with each file. If you want to see photos from your son’s graduation, for example, those photos will appear in each view by that date. Think about that. It’s pretty tough to arrange old-fashioned film prints by the moments in time that they document, but Photos makes it easy for you to see which photos are part of the same group.
In the days of film prints, you could always stuff another shoebox with your latest photos or buy another sticky-backed album to expand your library. Your digital camera, though, stores images as files instead, and many folks don’t print their digital photographs. Instead, you can keep your entire collection of digital photographs and scanned images well-ordered and easy to retrieve within Photos. Then you can display them in a slideshow, email them, print them, use them as Desktop backgrounds, or burn them to an archive disc.
The most familiar method of organizing images in Photos is the album. Each album can represent any designation you like, be it your pets, a vacation, your daughter, or your daughter’s ex-boyfriends. Follow these steps:
Create a new album.
You can choose File ⇒ New Album or press ⌘ +N. If you’ve selected any item thumbnails in the Viewer, they’re added to the new album automatically.
Photos also offers a special type of album called a Smart Album, which you can create from the File menu. (For even faster action, press ⌘ +Option+N.) If you’re familiar with the Smart Folders that you can use within the Finder and the Smart Playlists within Music (see Chapter 12), you’ve figured this one out already.
A Smart Album contains only photos that match certain criteria you choose, including the keywords you assign your images. Other criteria include text in the photo filenames, the dates when the images were added to Photos, a specific person you've identified, and any description you may have added (as well as camera-specific data, such as ISO and shutter speed).
Now here’s the really nifty angle: Photos automatically builds and maintains Smart Albums for you. It adds new photos that match the criteria and deletes those you remove from your Photo Library. (It also removes the photos that no longer match the Smart Album’s criteria.) Smart Album icons carry a gear symbol in the Photos Sidebar.
You can copy selected items from the Viewer into any album you choose. Right-click the desired items, hover your pointer over the Add To menu item, and choose the destination album. You can also copy selected items to an album by dragging them from the Viewer to the desired album entry in the Sidebar.
To remove a photo or video clip that has fallen out of favor, follow these steps:
To remove an entire album, right-click the offending album entry in the Sidebar and choose Delete Album from the shortcut menu.
To rename an album in the Sidebar, click the entry below the Albums heading in the list to select it, and click again to display a text box. Type the new album name, and press Return.
Photos includes a powerful organizational tool called People, which appears as a separate item within the Sidebar.
People is a sophisticated recognition system that automatically recognizes human faces within the photos you add to your Photos library. (I don’t know whether it works well with pets, but you can try.) Naturally, you have to identify — or tag — faces before Photos can recognize them.
To tag a face, follow these steps:
In the Viewer, double-click the photo with a person you want to tag and click that person’s face.
Note that Photos indicates each person’s face in the photo with a circle. If a face has already been tagged, the label (which appears when you hover your pointer over the icon) matches the person’s face.
To set Photos to always show labels in the Viewer — so that you don't have to click the Add Faces link — choose View ⇒ Show Face Names.
Type the person’s name and press Return.
If the name appears on a Contacts contact card — or is recognized as an existing People name or as one of your Facebook friends — you can click the matching entry that appears to confirm the identity. Wowzers!
After you tag an image, it appears in your People collection, which you can view by clicking the People entry in the Sidebar. You can double-click a portrait in your People collection to see all the images that contain that person.
“Okay, Mark, albums and People are great ideas, but there has to be a way to search my library by category!” you say. Never fear, good Mac owner. You can also assign descriptive keywords to items to help organize your library and locate certain pictures and video clips fast. Photos comes with several standard keywords, and you can create your own as well.
To illustrate, suppose that you’d like to identify your images according to special events in your family. Birthday photos should have their own keyword, and anniversaries deserve another. By assigning keywords, you can search for Elsie’s birthdays or your silver wedding anniversary (no matter what collection or album they’re in), and all related photos with those keywords appear like magic!
Photos includes these keywords:
To assign keywords to images (or to remove keywords that have already been assigned), select one or more photos in the Viewer. Then choose Window ⇒ Manage My Keywords or press ⌘ +K to display the Keyword Manager window, shown in Figure 13-4.
Click the buttons for the keywords you want to attach to the selected images to mark them, or click the highlighted buttons for the keywords you want to remove from the selected items.
Behold the power of keywords! To sift through your entire collection of images by using keywords, click the Search button on the toolbar in the top-right section of the Photos window and type one or more keywords. To see all the items you’ve flagged as Favorites that include kids, for example, type Favorite Kids.
Photos can also track the location where photos were taken automatically, but this feature requires a digital camera that includes GPS tracking information in the image metadata for Photos to do so without your help. (Older camera models are unlikely to support GPS tracking. Naturally, most iPhones and iPads support this feature.) You don’t have to turn anything on to view photos by location.
When you’re viewing photos by Moments and Collections, you’ll notice that Photos includes the location name to identify where the photos were taken. To search for all images taken at a specific location, type the location name in the Search field.
Not every digital image is perfect; just look at my collection if you need proof. For shots that need a pixel massage, Photos includes editing tools that you can use to correct common problems.
The first step in any editing job is selecting the image you want to fix. (Double-click a thumbnail in the Viewer so that it fills the screen.) Then click the Edit button on the Photos toolbar (or simply press Return) to display the Edit-mode controls on the right side of the window, as shown in Figure 13-5. Now you’re ready to fix problems by using the tools I discuss in the rest of this section.
While you’re editing, you can click the left- and right-arrow keys to move to the next item or back to the previous image. This trick works whether you’re browsing the library or displaying the contents of an album. You can also display the Thumbnail pane in Edit mode.
When you’re finished with Edit mode, click the (wait for it) Done button again to return to the Viewer.
If an image is in the wrong orientation and needs to be turned to display correctly, click the Rotate button to turn it once counterclockwise. Hold down the Option key while you click the Rotate button to rotate clockwise.
Does that photo or video have an intruder hovering around the edges of the subject? You can remove some of the border by cropping an item, just as folks once did with film prints and a pair of scissors. (We’ve come a long way.) With Photos, you can remove unwanted portions from the edges of an image or video — a great way to get Uncle Milton’s stray head (complete with toupee) out of an otherwise-perfect holiday snapshot.
While you’re in Edit mode, follow these steps to crop, flip, and straighten an item:
Select the portion of the image that you want to keep.
In the Viewer, click and drag the right-angle handles at the corners of the rectangle to outline the part of the image you want. Whatever is outside this rectangle disappears when the crop is complete.
When you drag a corner or edge of the outline, a semi-opaque grid (familiar to amateur and professional photographers as the nine rectangles from the Rule of Thirds) appears to help you visualize what you’re claiming. (Check it out in Figure 13-6.)
You can expand the outline to the image’s full dimensions at any time by clicking the Reset Adjustments button in the bottom-right corner.
See that attractive-looking Auto button that appears in the bottom-right corner of the Photos window when you’re in Crop mode? A single click of the Auto button and Photos takes its best shot at producing the ideal cropping and straightening job for you! If you don’t like the results, just use the Undo feature (⌘ +Z) to return the photo to its previous appearance.
Photos features multiple Undo levels, so you can press ⌘ +Z several times to travel back through your past several changes. Alternatively, you can return the image to its original form (before you did any editing at all) by clicking the Reset Adjustments button.
(Optional) Choose a preset aspect ratio.
You might want to force your cropped selection to a specific aspect ratio, such as 4x3 or 16x9 for a widescreen desktop background or 4x6 or 5x7 to match the dimensions of photo paper. If so, click the Aspect item on the right side of the window (available only while cropping) and choose that ratio from the pop-up menu that appears. (Pick the Square selection for the perfect Facebook profile image or the Freeform selection to allow any aspect ratio when your cropping is done.)
(Optional) Flip your photo or video horizontally.
A click of the Flip item at the right side of the Crop window gives you the mirror image of your original photo.
(Optional) Straightening what’s crooked.
Was your camera slightly tilted when you took the perfect shot? Never fear! Click the circular angle control on the right edge of the image and drag in the desired direction. (Besides straightening the subject, you can do some truly wild camera angles this way, just like in the ’60s Batman TV series!)
If a photo looks washed out, click the Auto Enhance button to increase (or decrease) the color saturation and improve the contrast. (The toolbar button sports a very fitting magic-wand icon.) Auto Enhance is automatic, so you don’t have to set anything — but be prepared to use Undo if you’re dissatisfied with the changes.
Unfortunately, today’s digital cameras can still produce the same “zombies with red eyeballs” as traditional film cameras do. Red-eye is caused by a camera’s flash reflecting off the eyes’ interior surface, and it can occur with both humans and animals. (I’m told that pets get green-eye or blue-eye, but Photos can handle them, too!)
Photos can remove that red-eye and green-eye and turn frightening zombies back into your family and friends. In Edit mode, click the Adjust button at the top of the window; hover your pointer over the Red-Eye item on the right side of the screen; and click the Auto button that appears. Photos automatically attempts to remove any red-eye effect that it detects in the photo, and a blue check mark appears next to the Red-Eye item to indicate that a change was made.
The Photos Retouch feature is perfect for removing minor flecks or lines in an image (especially those you’ve scanned from prints), and Retouch has been improved in macOS Big Sur. Click the disclosure triangle (which looks like a right arrow) by the Retouch item and click the Edit button that appears (which carries a paintbrush icon). Now hover your pointer over the photo to display the circular retouch tool. You can drag the Size slider to change the size of the retouch tool. Drag the pointer across the imperfection and click Done when you finish touching up. Don’t forget to take a moment to marvel at your editing skill!
Wonder whether a particular photo or video in your library would look better in black and white (grayscale)? Click the Filters button at the top of the window to display a list of effects that you can apply to the item, including black-and-white effects, enhanced color levels, and subtle shading. Click any thumbnail in the strip to apply the filter.
If you’d like more precise manual control of your image attributes — including sharpness, color levels, shadows, definition, and white balance — click the Adjust button at the top of the window and explore the lengthy array of options. Note that most of the adjustments offer an Auto button if you hover your pointer over the entry, and you can click the disclosure triangle to the left of each entry to display additional controls that create a different look.
Yes, Apple has decided that everything except the kitchen sink should be stored online in iCloud: first your iTunes music library; then your Pages, Numbers, and Keynote documents; and now your photographs and video clips! To turn the iCloud Photos feature on, choose Photos ⇒ Preferences, click the iCloud tab of the Preferences dialog, and click the iCloud Photos check box to enable it.
With iCloud Photos, your entire Photos library is stored online, and everything in your library is accessible from other Macs and iOS devices such as your iPad and iPhone. (Think “central storage house for everything visual that you can reach from anywhere with an Internet connection.”) If you take a photo with your iPhone, for example, it appears automatically within Photos. And if you recently cropped and edited a photo to perfection with Photos, you’ll be able to retrieve that edited photo on any of your iOS devices or another Mac.
On the same iCloud pane in the Preferences dialog, you can choose to
Naturally, if you’re a photographer who needs constant, instant access to your original images, the first option is preferable. Choose the Download Originals to this Mac option on the iCloud pane. If your MacBook’s drive is nearly full, however, and you’d like to conserve space, the second option is very attractive. Choose the Optimize Mac Storage option on the iCloud pane.
All this goodness is handled automatically, but there’s a catch: Your entire Photos library needs to fit within your free 5GB of iCloud storage; otherwise, you’ll have to pay a monthly subscription to get additional elbow room! (Storage subscriptions range from 99 cents a month for 50GB of space to $9.99 a month for a whopping 2TB of space.) If you have only 3GB of photos, you may be able to use iCloud Photos without spending anything extra, but because my Photos Library is nearing 10GB, I’d probably need to subscribe to take full advantage of the feature. The choice is yours, dear reader: If you decide not to use iCloud Photos, rest assured that Photo Stream will still work as it did in iPhoto.
Like iPhoto before it, Photos includes the My Photo Stream feature, which automatically shares the photos you take among your Macs, your PCs, and iOS devices. Unlike with the iCloud Photos feature, however, your images and videos are stored on your Mac’s local hard drive, not in iCloud. (The images and videos are also always full-size and full-resolution.)
To turn on My Photo Stream, choose Photos ⇒ Preferences; click the iCloud toolbar button in the Preferences dialog; and then select the My Photo Stream check box. When the feature is turned on, Photos should automatically import My Photo Stream photos taken with iOS devices and other Macs to your Photos library.
When the My Photo Stream feature is turned on, it’s a cinch to share images and videos across your Apple computers and devices; simply copy the items into the My Photo Stream location in the Sidebar. Photos automatically sends the selected images to all compatible devices over your Internet connection. (Note that all devices that use My Photo Stream must be configured with the same Apple ID.)
You can also choose to share specific photos by using iCloud Shared Albums, which can be turned on from the Photos Preferences dialog. (Yes, I agree that Apple seriously needs to work on choosing more-discrete names for these features.) Choose Photos ⇒ Preferences, click the iCloud tab on the toolbar of the Preferences dialog, and select the Shared Albums check box.
To subscribe to a shared-album invitation from another person, right-click the desired shared album in the Sidebar and choose Accept from the shortcut menu.
To create your own shared album, select the images you want to share, click the Share button on the toolbar, select the Shared Albums item, and click the New Shared Album button. Photos prompts you for the album name and the email addresses of the folks you want to invite to your shared album. After you enter each email address, click the Create button at the bottom of the sheet to start the ball rolling. You can also add or delete items from your shared album in the same way that you would with a regular Photos album. Apple, you absolutely rock!