Basics Photo Booth in OS X Mavericks

The Photo Booth application provides all the fun of an old-time (or new-time) photo booth like the ones you sometimes see in malls or stores. It lets you shoot one photo, shoot a burst of four photos in a row, or shoot a movie using your Mac’s built-in camera.

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If yours is one of the rare Macs with no built-in camera or you own a USB or FireWire webcam better than the built-in model, you’ll be pleased to hear that most USB and FireWire webcams work with Photo Booth right out of the box with no drivers or other software necessary. Just launch Photo Booth and look in the Camera menu, where all compatible cameras appear.

If you have only one camera available — mine’s called FaceTime HD Camera (Built-in) — it’s selected automatically so you shouldn’t have to even bother with the Camera menu.

Photo Booth couldn’t be easier to use. Start by clicking one of the three buttons in the lower-left corner of the Photo Booth window: Burst (of four photos), Single Photo, or Movie, and then click the big, red camera button to take a picture.

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Before you shoot, you may want to explore the five pages of special effects — Sepia Tone, Color Pencil, Pop Art, and dozens more — by clicking the Effects button (lower right) and then clicking the particular effect you want to try.

If you like it, click the big, red camera button and shoot a picture, pictures, or video; if you don’t, click the Effects button again and click another effect. Or, if you prefer to shoot with no effects, click the Normal effect in the center of all the Effects pages.

Photo Booth includes a feature called Screen Flash, which uses your computer display as a camera flash by turning the screen all-white as it shoots the photo. If your screen isn’t flashing when you shoot, look in the Camera menu for the Enable Screen Flash command.

If there’s not a check mark before its name, select Enable Screen Flash, and there will be. Finally, Screen Flash is (understandably) disabled when you're shooting movies.

After you shoot, your pictures or movies drop into the tray at the bottom of the window. You can then select one or more photos in the tray and then do any of the following:

  • Delete them by pressing the Delete or Backspace key.

  • Share them by clicking the Share button (shown in the margin), which replaces the Effects button when one or more photos are selected in the tray.

  • Export them as JPEG files by choosing File→Export.

  • Print them by choosing File→Print or pressing Command+P.

  • Drag them from the tray to the Desktop, a folder, an e-mail, or iMessage, where they appear as JPEG files, or drag them onto the icon (Dock or Applications folder) of an image editor such as iPhoto.

So that’s the scoop on Photo Booth. It’s fun and easy, and if you’ve got a camera (as most of you do), you should definitely launch Photo Booth and give it a try.

If you have kids who are old enough to trust with a Mac, Photo Booth and its effects will entertain them for hours (or, more likely, for a few minutes). It’s guaranteed to entertain and delight kids of all ages the first time they play with it.

Photo Booth opens in a window by default. There’s no reason to limit this application to a window, so you can always go full screen by clicking the double-headed arrow in the top-right corner of the window, choosing View→Enter Full Screen or pressing Command+Ctrl+F.

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