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iLife ’11: Maintaining a Photo Archive in iPhoto

Maintaining a photo archive in iPhoto is important, whether you're a professional or novice photographer. Losing pictures (and the memories) can be heartbreaking. Whether or not you manage files on your hard drive, you may want to know where these pictures are stored so that you can go about your usual file-management tasks — such as backing up current iLife files and archiving files you no longer need at hand.

You may also want to move the whole iPhoto library archive to another Mac. You may also want to make more copies of all your pictures and create CDs or DVDs as archives. The cost of a single blank CD or DVD is quite low compared to the cost of losing a priceless picture without a backup.

If you move, delete, rename, or otherwise tamper with files or folders inside the iPhoto Library package, you may be unable to see your pictures in iPhoto.

Backing up your iPhoto library

Routinely copying your iPhoto library to another hard drive, or including it in your Time Machine backup, is a good idea. If you have no other hard drive or removable storage device (and don’t mind how long the backup may take), you can even copy your iPhoto library to the iDisk of your MobileMe service on the Internet, if you have enough space on it.

To copy the iPhoto library to another drive, locate the iPhoto Library package file using the Finder. The file is usually located within the Pictures folder in your User folder. Drag this file to another hard drive and you’re all set. The copy operation may take some time if the library is huge; you can stop the operation at any time, but the newly copied library may not be complete. For best results, allow the copy operation to finish.

Burning your iPhoto archive to a CD or DVD

A useful way to maintain backups of your pictures is to burn CDs or DVDs with them. If you have an Apple-supported CD-RW or DVD-R drive, you can burn CDs and DVDs with iPhoto albums. When you save (or write) information to a disc, your drive burns the information onto the disc’s surface with a laser.

iPhoto burns a CD or DVD that can be used only with iPhoto, not with other photo programs or photo processing services. To create a CD or DVD of image files to use with other programs or services, export the pictures to files in a folder in the Finder and use the Burn Disc command to burn the folder to a CD or DVD.

To burn a CD or DVD for use with iPhoto, follow these steps:

  1. Browse and select pictures, or choose a photo album.

  2. Choose Share→Burn.

  3. Insert a blank disc and click OK.

  4. Click the Burn button in the Burn Disc pane (or Cancel).

    The burn operation starts. It may take several minutes to burn the disc; when it's done, you hear a chime and the disc automatically ejects.

To open a CD or a DVD you burned in iPhoto, insert the CD or DVD disc into your Mac. An icon for the disc appears in the Source pane. Click the disc icon in the Source pane to display the pictures and albums on the disc. Click the triangle next to the disc icon to see the photo albums on the disc. You can copy them to your current iPhoto library to work on them.

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