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Lesson 4. Organizing and Refining YourPh... > Adding Comments, Keywords, and Ratin...

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 a picture was taken or who the guy was standing on your left. 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 can be used by iPhoto 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 notes, keywords, or ratings to one photo or all of them, 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 adding notes to the Information windows of these items.

The Information Window You used the Information window at the lower-left corner of the iPhoto display back when you changed the name of one of your rolls in Lesson 3. 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, it will not only report on the title and date, but also how many photos are in it, and the total size (in MB) of the set. Click an individual image and you'll see additional information about the format (for instance, JPEG or TIFF), its dimensions (in pixels), and a rating (which you'll explore in a moment). Whether you select one image or a roll, in the Library or an album, it's easy to add or update the information.


If you don't see this box, click the Info button at the bottom of the iPhoto window.

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.

Library info

Album info

Image info

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 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 a little 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:

Go to 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.

Add a new keyword: Customer Pieces. (As you can see, a keyword can be either a word or short phrase.)

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

From the Library of photos from Jennifer (L4.Biz roll 3), find an image of a finished customer piece and select it.

Go to Photos > Get Info. 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.

Select a group of shots of finished pieces.

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, turn on the View > Keywords option. The photo will carry the assigned word in the Library and in every folder that contains the photo.


You can assign more than one keyword to a photo.

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.

To find all the photos with a given keyword, select the keyword button (it looks like a key) at the bottom of the Source column.

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—or 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.

Select one of the customer piece shots.

Choose View > My Rating.

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

Using your cursor, in the Information box, click and drag across the rating line.

This will add stars to a photo's rating.

Rate a number of images, based on your own preferences.

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

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


You can also rate images and make a few other useful adjustments while watching the images in a slide show (discussed in Lesson 5).

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