How to create a slideshow in iPhoto

Add effects and music to your next photo presentation with an iPhoto slideshow.

Matt Elliott Senior Editor
Matt Elliott is a senior editor at CNET with a focus on laptops and streaming services. Matt has more than 20 years of experience testing and reviewing laptops. He has worked for CNET in New York and San Francisco and now lives in New Hampshire. When he's not writing about laptops, Matt likes to play and watch sports. He loves to play tennis and hates the number of streaming services he has to subscribe to in order to watch the various sports he wants to watch.
Expertise Laptops | Desktops | All-in-one PCs | Streaming devices | Streaming platforms
Matt Elliott
3 min read
With their templates, transition, and musical accompaniment, iPhoto slideshows provide a richer experience than a simply scanning a photo album. Matt Elliott/CNET

Sure, you can create an album in iPhoto and flip through the photos, showing those seated next to you in front of your Mac the highlights from your vacation or the latest snaps of the grandkids. A special occasion--wedding, anniversary, graduation, milestone birthday--however, may require extra treatment. To add music, engaging transitions, and panning-and-zooming Ken Burns effects to your photo presentation, try out iPhoto's slideshow feature. Creating a slideshow is quick and easy in iPhoto '11. I'll show you how after the jump.

To create a slideshow, highlight a group of photos (using the Shift key if they are in consecutive order or the Command key if they are not) and click the Create button in the toolbar in the lower-right corner of iPhoto and select Slideshow. The photos will get dumped into a slideshow, complete with a title page. You can type in a title, and you can also name the slideshow in iPhoto's source list in the left-hand column.

Create > Slideshow gets you started. Matt Elliott/CNET

To add more photos to the slideshow, highlight the photos you'd like to include, click the Add To button in the toolbar, select Slideshow, and from there you'll be able to add the photo or photos to any of the slideshows you've created. To remove a photo from a slideshow, open the slideshow and highlight the photo from the strip of thumbnails at the top of the page and hit the Delete key. From that strip of thumbnails, you can also drag photos around to change the order.

iPhoto provides 12 themes for your slideshow, which you can access from the Themes button in the toolbar. To its left is a Text Slide button that lets you add a caption to a slide, and to its right is a Music button that lets you add a song or songs to the slideshow. iPhoto provides 14 selections, or you can choose a song from iTunes or GarageBand. Before you select a song, be sure you check the Play music during slideshow box. To play more than one song, check the Custom Playlist for Slideshow box and drag songs into the area below it.

iPhoto features 12 slideshow themes. Matt Elliott/CNET

Using the Settings button, you can choose to use photo titles, description, Places, or dates as captions. Other settings let you add a transition to the entire slideshow or just to specific photos. You can set the duration for how long all the slides or specific slides will stay on the screen.

Two of the 12 themes--Classic and Ken Burns--let you add the Ken Burns effect. The panning-and-zooming effect gets applied to all the slides, but you can turn it off for specific slides. To do so, go to Settings, click on the This Slide tab, and remove the check next to Ken Burns at the bottom. You can also control how the Ken Burns effect will pan and zoom across an image. Make sure the Ken Burns box is checked and that the little slider next to it is on the Start side. Using the zoom slider at the bottom of iPhoto, you can choose where to start the zoom. And then you can drag the photo to frame it for its starting point. Then move the little slider to End and adjust the zoom and drag the photo to where you'd like the panning to end. This is an effective tool for zooming in and panning across a group photos; instead of radomly zooming in and ending on someone's shoulder, for example, you can have it zoom in and pan across your smiling faces.

In settings, you can set the duration of each slide and fine tune the panning and zooming of Ken Burns effect. Matt Elliott/CNET

Hit the Preview button at the bottom of iPhoto to see how the current slide you're working on looks (plus those that follow it). And to view your completed slideshow from start to finish, hit the Play button.