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Articles: Hidden Free Features of iPhoto 6

When iPhoto 6 was demonstrated at MacWorld, I barely noticed the addition of the Card and Calendar features. Both features are presented in the same fashion as the photo book feature that has been part of iPhoto for a long time. I was never thrilled with the "Book" feature because it had to be sent off to a printer who would then mail it to me. Ignoring the print fee aspect of the process, it's inconvenient to have to wait for something I create on my computer to be mailed to me. Not having to wait for my pictures is why I have a digital camera in the first place. So I ignored the Card, Calendar, and Book buttons on the bottom of the iPhoto window. Because, to me, they were a bad idea just meant to collect more money from me and eat up my time.

Then one day my daughter was clicking away at her computer. I had just gotten around to updating her iBook to iLife '06. She told me that she had created a card for her mom and needed to print. All she could see was a "Buy Card" button and, like me, didn't want to pay or wait. Apple plasters iPhoto's Card, Calendar, and Book functions with print purchasing information. Buy buttons and pricing lists are inescapable as you build a Card, Calendar, or Book in iPhoto. I told her that I thought she would have to pay, but for fun she should try Command + P. I didn't expect it to work, so I almost fell out of the chair when she brought me an exceptionally nice looking card. As soon as I realized this, a new world was opened to me. I made my wife's Valentines Day card in iPhoto, as well as a book of our trip to the Napa Valley. It's straightforward and fun, with beautiful results. So the unknown reality is that you do not have to pay a cent to get great looking books and cards from iPhoto!

The first step is picking a single picture for your card. All you need to do is highlight the picture and then click on the "Card" button. You will be shown a window with many sample designs. From the pull down menu you choose "Greeting Card' or "Post Card" style. In the bottom left there is a button that says "Options + Prices." Ignore that button; we are doing this "on the cheap." Click on the sample card you like and push the "Choose Theme" button. You should see the front and back of your card now. Before you customize your text, adjust the settings found at the bottom left. There you can change themes, background color, and overall design. The actual "Settings" option is where you can adjust the font. Also, from Settings you have the option of removing the Apple logo printed on the back of the card. I leave it on because the people who know me know where most of my creations come from, but you may want to take it off. Next edit your card's text, and then it's time to print. Again, ignore the big "Buy Card" button at the bottom right. From the "File" menu select "Print" or Command + P. Printing will take some adjustments depending on the printer and paper you have. Remember, you can always print to a PDF first and then play with the output settings from the Preview application.

Calendars are set up similar to Cards but instead of having one picture you select a group of pictures or an Album. Then click on the "Calendar" button. Select your themes and start placing your pictures. You also have the option of using some of your calendars from iCal or birthdays from the Address Book. It will place your events on the appropriate days. Even if you're never going to print this calendar, having a PDF calendar you can email to family is a great benefit. If at any time you need to use pictures that you didn't originally select when making a calendar or book, just drag them from your library to the icon in the left. It will add the photo like it does with adding photos to Albums.

The "Book" is also set up with groups of photos or an Album, just like the "Calendar." You can change the size of the book, but it defaults to 8.5" by 11" which is the standard printer paper size. You can create as many pages as you like. If you have good paper, this is a great project to print up, but you can just print a PDF instead and email it to family and friends.

As excited as I am about these three free iPhoto features, I can't help but be a little disappointed in Apple. They may have built the print ability into iPhoto but they went out of their way to hide it as an option. They should have included a "Print" button next to the "Buy" button. I have no problem selling printing from iPhoto; I just don't like being pushed to buy, though I suppose it's a good reminder that like all companies, Apple exists to make money. But in this case, I feel that Apple's push has detracted greatly from an impressive feature of iPhoto. But please check it out anyway, it's one of iPhoto's best features.

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