Apple iPhoto review: Apple iPhoto

  • 1

CNET Editors' Rating

4 stars Excellent
Review Date:
Updated on:

The Good Simple, intuitive interface; makes it easy to design and order a hardcover photo album; tight integration with printers; free.

The Bad Lacks sophisticated photo-editing features; imports file types it doesn't support.

The Bottom Line For home photographers or those with small businesses, free iPhoto performs almost every basic photo-management task. Serious digital photo enthusiasts and photographers should look to more advanced apps, such as Adobe Photoshop.

Don't Miss

Updated 5/13/02

Editors' note:
In May, Apple released a free update to iPhoto, version 1.1.1, that lets you send photos using the OS X Mail application, create desktop backgrounds using your own photos, search the photo library, and touch up photos by adjusting brightness and contrast.

If you own a Mac and a passel of unorganized digital photos, Apple iPhoto is just the ticket. This free download, built exclusively for Mac OS X, imports, stores, and displays your photos in an elegant interface. It also lets you add pics to a Web page, uploads the page to the Internet, and helps you order prints online. Photo pros won't get much from its limited editing tools, but if you just want a simple way to gather up and display tons of pictures, iPhoto's got your number. Updated 5/13/02

Editors' note:
In May, Apple released a free update to iPhoto, version 1.1.1, that lets you send photos using the OS X Mail application, create desktop backgrounds using your own photos, search the photo library, and touch up photos by adjusting brightness and contrast.

If you own a Mac and a passel of unorganized digital photos, Apple iPhoto is just the ticket. This free download, built exclusively for Mac OS X, imports, stores, and displays your photos in an elegant interface. It also lets you add pics to a Web page, uploads the page to the Internet, and helps you order prints online. Photo pros won't get much from its limited editing tools, but if you just want a simple way to gather up and display tons of pictures, iPhoto's got your number.

Virtually no setup
No need to fret about installing iPhoto. Our installation took less than a minute, and we didn't have to restart the machine afterward. Once you've installed the program, anytime you plug your camera into the Mac, iPhoto automatically launches and prompts you to import the pictures. (iPhoto will work with many USB-ready cameras.) iPhoto automatically groups each batch of images in a Roll (a batch labeled with the import date and number of pics). To import photos you've already stored on the computer, select Import from the File menu.

iPhoto lets you import JPEG and TIFF files and also supports low-resolution files from the old Apple QuickTake camera (after converting them to TIFF) and high-resolution, scanned TIFF images. As expected, in CNET's tests, iPhoto crashed often after importing PICT images. Unfortunately, iPhoto doesn't support PICT files but lets you import them anyway. (Deleting the files from within iPhoto fixed the problem.)

Organize and edit your pics
If you've ever worked with Apple iTunes (an MP3 player, organizer, and CD burner), you'll feel right at home in iPhoto because its interface looks strikingly similar. For example, just click the Photo Library icon to view all of your thumbnails at once or select individual photos and drop them into Albums (equivalent to iTunes' Playlists). When you need to find a particular photo, you won't have any trouble. You can view them by Roll, by titles you create, or by preset keywords you assign.

But if you'd like to edit images before you print them, you're pretty much out of luck. Although editing with iPhoto is easy, its tools do limited tasks: crop, rotate, remove red-eye, and convert to black and white. iPhoto could use a few more options, such as brightness and contrast adjustments.

Quality prints and photo albums
When you're ready to print your pics, iPhoto has the goods. Thanks to OS X's Quartz graphics, iPhoto matches the colors that appear on your camera, display, and printer with one another, so you don't need to worry that your prints will look different from your onscreen images. To share your digital pics with friends and family, simply upload the pics to Apple's free online photo album service. Or, to view your photos the old-fashioned way, order prints right from iPhoto. Prices are reasonable (49 cents per 4x6-inch print), and your pics look far better than you'd get from any home inkjet printer. We ordered 4x6 and 8x10 prints of photos taken with the 640x480 Apple QuickTake and 4-megapixel Canon PowerShot S40 cameras. iPhoto returned print-shop-quality photographs with accurate color and tone.

We also ordered iPhoto's customizable, hardbound coffee-table photo book. You can choose one of four jacket colors (black, gray, navy, burgundy), six preset book layouts, and the number of photos you want on each page. For higher quality, iPhoto lets you opt to print your pics on acid-free glossy paper using a four-color offset process. (The cost is $30 for the first 10 pages, then $3 per page.) The resulting photos boast a print quality worthy of a glossy color magazine.

Good quality; great value
There's a reason why your photos turn out looking so professional. iPhoto orders prints from Kodak's Ofoto service. If you choose, you can order photos directly from Ofoto's Web site, but iPhoto's process is faster and easier to use. In addition, the OfotoNow software, a potential iPhoto rival, isn't available for Macintosh and has a much steeper learning curve than iPhoto does.

What's the upshot? To manage, store, edit, and publish digital photos, you could spend a fortune on various software packages and photo services, such as the Photoshop image editor, the FileMaker Pro database, the QPict slide-show maker, and the Photo-to-Web service. Or, you could get iPhoto, which provides all the basic functions, is easier to use, and doesn't cost a thing. Mac-based, nonprofessional shutterbugs should definitely give iPhoto a try.

Apple iPhoto lets you organize sets of photos into virtual albums, from which you can view a multimedia slide show, print photos, or order a hardcover book of photos.

Don't Miss

 

Join the discussion

Conversation powered by Livefyre

Where to Buy

Apple iPhoto

Part Number: CNETIPHOTO
Pricing is currently unavailable.