iLife ’11: Using an iPhoto Album for Your Desktop and Screensaver

One sure way to demonstrate your skills with iLife and iPhoto is to personalize your Desktop to show your own pictures. The Desktop is the background image behind the Finder. To set your Desktop to a photo or an iPhoto album, select the photo’s thumbnail or select the album name in the Albums section of the Source pane and choose Share→Set Desktop.

You can also use any iPhoto photo album as a screen saver. The Desktop & Screen Saver preferences (choose System Preferences in Mac OS X and click Desktop & Screen Saver) let you choose not only pictures for your desktop but also animation to display when your Mac is inactive. To protect your display, you can set the Screen Saver setting to display animation if your computer hasn’t been used for several minutes. Apple provides a set of animated effects, but you can use a photo album from your iPhoto library as your screen saver — the pictures appear one after the other, like a slideshow. Scroll the list of Screen Savers until you find your iPhoto photo albums.

After clicking a photo album, click the Options button to display these options:

  • Present Slides in Random Order: When you turn on this setting, the images appear in random order rather than in the sequence you arranged for the photo album in iPhoto.

  • Cross-Fade between Slides: A cross-fade is a smooth transition from one image to another.

  • Zoom Back and Forth: The screen effect zooms into the image to show more detail, and zooms out to show the entire picture.

  • Crop Slides to Fit on Screen: Draw a smaller rectangle inside the image and cut away everything outside the rectangle, in order to fit the image onscreen. This option is useful for working with photos whose aspect ratios are different from the typical 16:10 ratio of the Mac screen.

  • Keep Slides Centered: When you turn on this option, the pictures are always centered onscreen (either letterboxed or pillarboxed, or both, if the dimensions are smaller than the screen dimensions) without the need for cropping.

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