Taking Your iPhoto '11 to the Max: A power guide to Apple's photo app

iPhoto '11 is an easy Mac app to begin using and play with, but a difficult one to master.

In his newest book for Apress, TUAW blogger Michael Grothaus takes his knowledge of iPhoto '11 and presents it in such a way that anyone can learn to use the app, not only for organizing and editing their photo library but also for creating albums and keepsakes or sharing those photos.

Part of the Apress Technology In Action series, Taking Your iPhoto '11 to the Max is a 241-page illustrated guide to the app. Available in both paper (US$29.99 SRP) and e-book ($20.99) formats, Michael's expertise as a photographer and writer shines in the book.

Michael begins the book at the point where most new Mac users stop -- they figure out how to import their photos into iPhoto and then use the app as the electronic equivalent of a shoe box to store their pictures. Michael begins educating readers at this point in a very understandable way, taking them through the steps of marking and searching their photos using keywords, and describing the detailed information that can be found in EXIF data imported from the digital camera.

When it comes to organization of photos in iPhoto '11, Michael shows how to use events, albums, Faces and Places to logically group pictures. While iPhoto's editing tools are relatively simplistic compared to some professional apps, the detailed descriptions of how to use those tools will make your pictures look their best.

One of the most powerful uses for iPhoto '11 is to share photos with others, and Michael takes readers through the process of making keepsakes (cards, calendars, books and slideshows) and sharing pictures through digital means. The book ends with a chapter on advanced tips and tricks, many of which are useful ideas that I didn't know about until I read the book.

Taking Your iPhoto '11 to the Max is a fast read and a great way to learn more about one of the most powerful tools on your Mac. If there are any complaints I have about the book, they aren't about the writing -- rather, they're about the production quality of the printed book. In the text, the color images don't appear to have been converted to grayscale prior to printing, resulting in somewhat dark and blurry (but still readable) figures. Also, the page headings in Chapter 10 are incorrect.

Don't let these production issues stop you from purchasing the book. The electronic version of Taking Your iPhoto '11 to the Max (available here) has the original color images for better clarity, so you might want to purchase it instead.

As for me, it was a pleasure to read through Michael's book and learn a lot about iPhoto '11 that I wasn't aware of previously. I'm lending it to my wife now; although she's an expert in creating books and calendars from our iPhoto books, she'll appreciate the information about Faces and Places.

Disclaimer: TUAW editor and blogger Steve Sande was the technical reviewer for this book.