Find Pictures in Mac's iPhoto '11 Using the Places Feature

The Mac has a handy Places feature. Many of today's cameras (and virtually every state-of-the-art camera phone) are so clever that they can detect where they are — and, by proxy, where the shooter is — when a picture is snapped. And even if your camera doesn't have such built-in geotagging capabilities, you might insert an Eye-Fi memory card that can supply such location data.

So it stands to reason that if your camera knows where a picture was taken, iPhoto can exploit location information for your benefit. The way it taps into geotagging is through the aptly named Places feature, which partly relies on the Global Positioning System (GPS) coordinates that your camera captures along with the image.

To get started, click Places in the iPhoto Source list (or click the Places button when you're in full-screen view). A map in the main viewing area displays red pushpins that designate spots where one or (more than likely) more than one photo has been taken. Here's a quick look at what you can do in this view:

  • Move your cursor over the pin to see the name of the place; click the arrow to summon all the pictures taken there.

  • You can drag a zoom slider at the lower-left corner of the screen to zoom in or out a map. You can also reveal more of a map by dragging with your mouse. Double-click or (via trackpad) pinch to zoom in on an area.

  • Click pop-up menus visible at the top of the map view to look for photos in your library by country, state, city, or point of interest.

  • You can even switch the look of the map to a satellite view, a standard map view, or a hybrid of the two. Just click the corresponding button in the upper right.

Even if you hadn't clicked Places, you can check out a photo's location on a map. Click the Info (i) button to open the Information pane, and you can see where the picture was taken on a small map adjacent to the actual photograph. Photo locations work in Events view as well; the map shows pins for all the pix in an event.

Don't fret if your camera can't capture location data. You can type your own location information and be as general (such as Chicago) or as specific (Grandma's house) as you like. Just type the more specific location name in the Information pane as well.

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You can also add animated maps to slideshows and maps to photo books.

If iPhoto doesn't seem to be capturing location data, open iPhoto Preferences (on the app menu), click the Advanced tab, and make sure that Automatically (as opposed to Never) is displayed in the Look Up Places section.

Also in Preferences, if you select the Include Location Information for Published Items option, any location information captured with your pictures is included if you share those images via e-mail or on an online photo site such as Flickr. Deselect this item if you don't want to include such information when you share your pictures in cyberspace.

You can edit your list of places, too. Choose Window→Manage My Places and then refine a region on the map that appears by dragging the handles to change the area's size.

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