iPhoto 7 wishlist

I’ve just started using Flickr and have found iPhoto 6 lacking in a few respects. Here’s a few things I’d like to see in iPhoto 7:

  • Better keyword implementation
  • Better photo sorting
  • API for plugins

Better keyword implementation
The current implementation of keywords is tedious. New keywords can only be added from iPhotos preferences. And a single keyword can only be added to a photo by dragging it onto a keyword button. As well, it appears that keywords cannot be added using AppleScript because the iPhoto AppleScript dictionary does not allow for keywords to be easily manipulated.

iPhoto 7 should allow new keywords to be added via the main iPhoto interface. In addition, new keywords should be able to be imported into iPhoto 7, eg, a set of keywords describing your geographical location, a group of keywords related to a family that can be shared with other family members, or a group of keywords that relate to a business. Also, keywords should be applied by selecting one or more photos and then choosing one or more keywords.

I believe (though this belief may be wrong) that iPhoto 6 keywords aren’t stored with the photo. That is, in the EXIF metadata for the photo. This means the keywords are lost when you share them. iPhoto 7 should remedy this by storing all keywords internally, but saving specific keywords into the EXIF metadata for individual photos. Also, keywords should be able to be put in a named set, and added to a photo by applying this set to the photo.

To be fair, I don’t know of any other program that does keywords right. Photoshop Elements is tedious to use in this respect too. It’s possible that Aperture and Adobe’s new photo lightroom thingy do keywords right, but they’re professional programs. And if they do, then that’s beside the point – consumers should get ease-of-use with iPhoto too.

Better photo sorting
iPhoto lets you view your photos by title, keyword, film roll and rating. iPhoto also sorts by photos by title, keyword, film roll, rating and date. Almost identical aren’t they? Confused? So am I. My expectation is that I can choose one of these views, and then have the photos within the view sorted in a particular way. But that’s not how it works. Instead, sorting overrides the chosen view. For example, I love the Film Rolls view. But when I choose to sort by keyword or date, the named Film Rolls are removed and all photos are ordered by the chosen sort method. So it seems a View is just a named sort. This isn’t very useable. Apple either need to combine Views and Sorts so that they’re consistent, or make them work as expected.

API for third-party plugins
iPhoto works well with .Mac. But many people don’t use .Mac, and based on the blogosphere it appears the number of .Mac users is decreasing. While iPhoto has an API that allows developers to write plugins, this API is unsupported and not documented. Apple need to publish an API for iPhoto plugins so that services such as Flickr and MySpace can be directly supported. If Apple don’t do this then they will marginalise iPhoto, making it relevant only to a dwindling number of .Mac users, and push users of fast growing social sites like Flickr and MySpace into using other tools.

I’d appreciate your comments about the issues I’ve raised above. Please correct me if I’m confused about how to use iPhoto 6, or add your own wish list of features.



7 comments so far

  1. jrpb on

    I’m looking forward to seeing what’s new in iPhoto 7 come MacWorld 07.

    I certainly agree with you on the keywords aspect, I don’t use them currently but would like to. I don’t really understand how I can classify my photos with just a dozen words or so.

    Some features I would like to see however include:
    – When improting images, I’d prefer to browse the images on my camera and select which photo’s go where rather than just one option to import all.
    – Ability to browse a volume or folder, without it being consolidated into my iPhoto library, for example. Being able to browse a server or a CD.
    – Movies to play inside iPhoto and not always opening QuickTime. If iTunes can do it, why not iPhoto 🙂

    I’d be interested to hear your ideas on iWeb as well, which is an app which seems to have the most potential.


  2. Dale Gillard on

    Thanks for the comment James.

    I don’t really understand how I can classify my photos with just a dozen words or so.

    Tags are just a flexible and convenient way of classifying a huge amount of things and making them searchable. Here’s the most useful articles I could find on tagging (assuming you’re interested):

    Tag (Wikipedia)

    Basic guidelines for tagging on Flickr

    Leveraging tagging for your blog

    Tag Literacy

    I’d be interested to hear your ideas on iWeb as well, which is an app which seems to have the most potential.

    I’ve used iWeb a bit, but not much. I do like it and am very interested to see what Apple do to it in iLife ’07. I’ll put something together about it soon and add it to this blog.


  3. jrpb on

    Not a problem with the comments Dale.

    I do understand tagging as a concept. But really think there’s a better way to search and catagorise images.

    I never use tagging in iPhoto. I never rename images, I do add comments (and batch comments) to images. I also collect my images of the some event into it’s own album which is usually dated.

    For example: Texas 2005, Europe 2006 which are holiday snaps of that event. Also I have Christmas 2002, Chirstmas 2003 etc. Now I could just use the new calendar tool, but I’m not sure i would remember exactly when I took that holiday a couple of years ago.

    With my latest Europe trip, I batch commented images to add which city and country they were taken – took over 1,000 pics so going through each one would be fairly laborious.

    Now if I tagged these then the tags are just showing me what I’ve set up in the album structure already. What I would truely love would be to link photos to my iLife. For example, people in photos to people in my address book. Or places I’ve been with Google Earth. Doing that would make alot more sense to me.

    About iWeb, I’ve been using it a fair bit and think it’s great – though limited. Used it to put my recent holiday snaps http://web.mac.com/jbadcock

    Would be happy to discuss this more if interested 🙂


  4. Dale Gillard on

    I do understand tagging as a concept. But really think there’s a better way to search and catagorise images.

    I wasn’t sure how familiar you were with tagging, so I did some research and included the links. Sorry if this offended.

    I agree that tagging isn’t the best way to search and categorise images, or other documents for that matter. I find it quite tedious to tag files, and because there’s no hierarchy or relationship between the tags it’s difficult to sift thru the tag words to find stuff.

    The problem is that applications and Web 2.0 apps are using them extensively and their implementation is rudimentary. For example, why don’t apps that do tagging allow you to create sets of tags that can be applied with one gesture (click or drag) eg for tagging photos of family members, a location, etc.

    I’d also like to see a thesaurus built in to programs that do tagging. Then I could pick a tag to apply and the program could list related tags I might want to use, or suggest I not use the original word ’cause there’s a better alternative.

    The thesaurus could also be used for searching. Type in a tag and the program could list results, but also list results for highly related tags.

    Now if I tagged these then the tags are just showing me what I’ve set up in the album structure already.

    Relying on the album structure is a problem from my POV. If you move the photo or share it with someone then the album structure disappears and you’ve got to find the picture visually or by date.

    What I’d prefer is for programs like iPhoto to make more use of the metadata contained within a file (I regard tags as metadata). Currently photos contain date, camera details, image details, etc. But it’d be great if the location and the tags I added were saved into the file itself. Then photos could be shared and would be easily categorised on the other Mac. iPhoto could also use the metadata/tags to create dynamic categories eg dynamic categories like year/month/day, country/state/location, family members by date, etc.

    About iWeb, I’ve been using it a fair bit and think it’s great – though limited. Used it to put my recent holiday snaps.

    Your site looks great. Doesn’t have the ‘stock iWeb’ look about it.

    I agree iWeb’s quite limited, but I’m hoping iLife ’07 gives it a boost. A few of the things I’m wanting are the ability to create templates without hacking, a way to create plugins for adding non-Apple content to pages (eg Flickr, Google AdWords, etc), less reliance on images for rendering text (ie smaller web pages), and generic styles that can be added to an element and applied across a whole site.


  5. sfenton83 on

    I see I still need to wait then on iphoto 6 as I was expecting flickr like tagging capabilities in it and have not run across many in depth reviews that specifically mention this. Thanks. As for the comments, good suggestions – the thesaurus idea is great – like clusters on flickr. I think I’m still waiting for the mac version of picasa though. I the mac, and the integration between ilife, etc. But I’ve not used a faster and more powerful consumer app for photos than picasa on my old pc yet. And I’ve tried many on the mac. Qpict was probably the closest, next to going all out with lightroom. Now if only the next iphoto could use all these suggestions out there… And as for the tagging, I’d hope you all have seen keyword assistant. I used it to tag in iphoto 5 easily. But I quit using iphoto 5 because it got ridiculously slow, which I hear is fixed in 6? I’d hope so…

  6. Dale Gillard on

    Thanks for the comment.

    iPhoto 6 is faster than 5, and quite usable. I haven’t noticed anything slow about it on my iMac G5 2Ghz with 2000 photos.

    I’m not sure we’ll get Picasa for the Mac. Google already make an iPhoto plugin that uploads to the Picasa web site. I wouldn’t want Google to compete with iPhoto by making a Picasa app, and would rather see them make the Picasa web site more like Flickr and have an iPhoto plug in that supported this.

    I have tried Keyword Assistant, but don’t find it much of an improvement to iPhoto’s keywords. I want to see something much more intelligent and integrated into iPhoto. Hopefully iPhoto 7 will do this.


  7. poppyph on

    Sorry to drop in on this thread so late, but I did want to add to your last comment. iPhoto’s performance is very closely tied to the number of photos in the album. As you mention, on your iMac, it runs fine with 2000 photos. I have completely given up on iPhoto at this point on my Mac Mini (dual core, 1.66Ghz) even after upgrading the RAM as I have just over 8400 photos and it is quite unwieldy. I’m just a little home/amateur photographer, not at a level where spending $300 on professional organizing software is practical.

    My wishlist for iPhoto includes:
    1. The ability to batch rename files. This is HUGE as my photo organization depends partly on the file name should I ever need to locate it again. I was working around this with Automator, but it was pretty kludgy.

    2. Either better capability to handle up to 10,000 photos with no performance degradation or the native ability to handle multiple albums.

    3. Native export for WordPress would be nice. I do have a plug-in that does this, but as you mention, it is based on an unsupported and undocumented API.

    4. Ability to import photos into specific locations. iPhoto’s current “roll” designation is limiting in that the user either has to be diligent about applying tags or has to try to recall exactly when a specific photo was taken. Sorting photos into folders based on the photo content when they are first imported is a much more intuitive structure.

    Thanks for providing the soapbox.

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