Using Smart Albums in iPhoto

When I open my iPhoto library, it shows that I have 11,992 photos. And that's not my complete library of digital photos! My first digital camera was an Epson (I don't remember the exact model number now) point-and-shoot with a 1.3 MP sensor. Yeah, I said 1.3! That was way back in 1998. My how times have changed (don't you just love technology?!).

With all those photos, it can sometimes be a challenge to find exactly what you're looking for in a short period of time. In most cases, looking through your entire library picture-by-picture to find "the one" just isn't going to happen. We're all busy and time is just too limited. Fortunately, I have a tip here that will save you a TON of time. Oh, and by the way... it's really slick!

A while ago, I showed you how to use "Smart Folders" in Finder to quickly find the files you're looking for. iPhoto has a similar feature called "Smart Albums". In short, it's a feature that allows you to create a special kind of folder that isn't based on specific content (photos you drag into it like a traditional album), but is instead based on search criteria. The fundamental difference between an album and a Smart Album is that Smart Albums are populated in real-time. For example, if you create a Smart Album to show you all photos taken in the last 2 weeks, and then you add another photo to your library, that new photo will automatically appear in the Smart Album. Here's how it works.

To create a new Smart Album, we'll need to open iPhoto and go to File > New Smart Album... The following window appears:

This is where we want to start building our search base. Here's a simple example for you. I want to create a Smart Album that shows me all video files taken on my iPhone that are in my library. This would be nearly impossible using a traditional photo album unless I have been building it manually from the beginning. This, however, is a piece of cake with a Smart Album. In order to build this Smart Album, we need to keep in mind that all videos created on an iPhone use the file extension ".mov". Having said that, our search base would look like this:

This Smart Album will search all files within my iPhoto library and return a list of files that match both search criteria (filename and device). If I would have omitted the camera model criteria, it would have returned all video files, regardless of the device they were created on. That's not necessarily a bad thing, but not what I was looking for to build this Smart Album.

There's a pretty comprehensive list of things you can search on from file name to ISO to shutter speed to description. If you use the Faces feature in iPhoto, you can even search on people! It's pretty amazing.

Making changes to a Smart Album's search base is easy. Just right-click on the Smart Album name, and choose edit:


At this point, you can make the changes you need, and then save the edited Smart Album.

Posted on June 30, 2014 and filed under How To, Mac.