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This chapter is from the book

Adding Comments, Keywords, and Ratings to Images

Including information such as comments and keywords with your photographs is not only useful in keeping organized, but a great memory jogger when years have passed and you’re not quite sure where you took a picture or who the guy standing to your left was. iPhoto provides a number of methods to help you catalog pictures.

Adding a comment to a photo is the most basic approach and can be the most detailed. It’s also perhaps the least useful, because iPhoto can show you this information—but can’t do much with it. Selecting one or a few keywords to attach to an image is exceptionally powerful, even though it provides less information than a comment. Selecting a rating is also easy, and you can use it in interesting ways, especially when combined with keywords.

Going through your rolls of film and adding information for each picture may be beyond your commitment to your photo collection. Regardless of whether you add comments, keywords, or ratings to one photo or all of your photos, iPhoto does its best to simplify the work involved, and it offers powerful organizational features if you’re willing to do the work.

Adding Comments

You can add comments to individual images, whole albums, or entire rolls by entering notes in the Information windows of these items.

The Information Window

You used the Information window in the lower-left corner of the iPhoto display back when you changed the name of one of your rolls in Lesson 2. Now let’s explore the tool in more detail. The Information box gives you a running commentary about items that you select. If you click a roll, the Information box will report not only the title and date, but also how many photos are in the roll and the total size (in megabytes) of the set. Click an individual image and you’ll see additional information about its format (for instance, JPEG or TIFF), dimensions (in pixels), and rating (which you’ll explore in a moment). Whether you select one image or a roll, in the library or in an album, it’s easy to add or update the information.

Notice how the data changes depending on what you select. Compare the data in the Information windows for different items by first selecting the library, then an album, and finally a photo.

The Comments Field

When you select any item—an image, an album, or a roll—a comments field becomes available at the bottom of the Information window. You can add a comment by clicking that field to make it active and then entering new information.

Adding notes to the comments field is a good way to include a detailed description that might be useful down the road (like who is in a picture or where a shot was taken).

If your comments are going to be elaborate, you can easily make the Information box taller, extending the visible comments field, by clicking the dot centered above the box and dragging up.

Adding Keywords

For general organization, iPhoto offers a keywords feature.

A keyword is a preset word or phrase that you can assign to any image. Assigning keywords makes it easy to find specific kinds of photos in your collection. You can select a keyword from a preset list, which forces you to catalog shots and helps you avoid that age-old organizational problem of having different labels—as in Dog, Dogs, Pets, Our Dog—for the same type of photo. Each variation on a label would only make it more difficult to keep all the dog shots together.

You can also create your own keywords if the ones provided with the program aren’t enough.

Helping one of our characters use keywords will make the process even clearer.

  1. Choose iPhoto > Preferences, and select Keywords.

    iPhoto will present the short list of built-in keywords. These options are a good start, but studio owner Jennifer needs some specific keywords related to the way she plans to organize her photos.

  2. Click the plus button on the lower left to add a new keyword: Customer Pieces. (As you can see, a keyword can consist of either a word or a short phrase.)

    Now you’ve created a new keyword that you can assign to one or more photos.

  3. In the library of photos from Jennifer (L3.Biz roll 3), find an image of a finished customer piece and select it.

    Choose Photos > Get Info. Select the Keywords tab. Once you’ve selected a shot, select the appropriate keyword—in this case, Customer Pieces.

    This adds the keyword to the stored data about this photo.

  4. Select a group of shots of finished pieces from L3.Biz roll 3.
  5. Go back to the Keywords window (which should be open), and assign Customer Pieces to those shots as well.

    Notice that assigning works just as well with one photo as with a group.

    If you’re unsure of the keywords you have used, or you simply want to see what you’ve done, choose View > Keywords. The photo will bear the assigned word in the library and in every folder containing that photo.

  6. Go through all the business owner’s photographs in the library and assign the keyword Customer Pieces to all images of finished, glazed ceramic objects.
  7. To find all the photos with a given keyword, click the Keyword button (it looks like a key) at the bottom of the Source column. The Information box turns into the Keywords window. To get the Information box back, click the button at the bottom labeled with an i.

Adding Ratings

In addition to assigning keywords to your photos, you can categorize your shots even further by using ratings. iPhoto provides a scale of one to five stars (five stars being the best) that you can assign to any image. It can be too much work to rate everything, but sometimes rating selectively is useful.

Take Jennifer’s shots of customer pieces, for instance. By definition, everything labeled with the keyword Customer Pieces is a customer’s finished piece. But Jennifer is more interested in the really good photos of customers’ pieces—and the keyword alone doesn’t communicate this information. By going through the pieces and rating each one, she can store a little more valuable information with each photo.

  1. Select one of the Customer Pieces shots.
  2. Choose View > My Rating.

    This reveals any ratings you assign. Otherwise, you can see your ratings only on individually selected shots in the Information window.

  3. In the Information box, drag across the rating line.

    This adds stars to a photo’s rating.

  4. Rate a number of images based on your preferences.

    The rating stars will show up beneath the photos, along with the keywords.

Once you have rated a number of the pieces, you’re ready to use one of the most powerful organizational tools in iPhoto: Smart Albums.

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