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iPhoto '08 does tagging right

I've been waiting (impatiently) for a tagging UI like this to come to iPhoto for some time now, and I'm generally happy to say that iPhoto '08 finally does tagging well (for the sake of this post, however, I'll be using the terms 'tags' and 'keywords' interchangeably, since iPhoto refuses to adopt the web 2.0 terminology). If you display keywords beneath your photos (View > Keywords or shift-command-K), you can simply click below your photo in that field (even if it doesn't have any keywords yet) and begin typing. iPhoto will attempt to auto-fill from your keyword library, or it will add new keywords you create on the fly.

For keyword ninjas this still might not replace powerful plug-ins like Keyword Manager, but it's definitely a step in the right direction for the general iPhoto user. Since it's barely been 24 hours, Keyword Manager understandably hasn't updated yet, but I don't find myself gasping for breath without it. Thanks to this improvement and others which I'll explore, iPhoto has gained respectable features that finally allow users to manage their library with the power of tags. Read on to see what else is new with iPhoto's keyword features.



Another great improvement is iPhoto's new keyword management window (Window > Show Keywords or command-K). This window allows you to select one photo or a group of them, then apply keywords simply by clicking them here. As you can see, the Quick Group section at the top allows you to drag your most-used keywords (or simply the keywords-of-the-moment) up there to assign keyboard shortcuts to them.



For a nice touch, the shortcut system used for these keywords is simply based on their first letter, allowing for one-key application of the keywords while browsing your library. Excellent. If you place two keywords up there that begin with the same letter, another will be assigned instead.



Last but not least to iPhoto's welcome enhancements to keywords is its search feature. To the left of the search box in iPhoto now is a popup menu allowing you to specify searching by keywords, ratings, dates or simply everything. Chosing to search by keywords presents this sexy translucent popup with all your keywords. Clicking one immediately adds it to the search query, and clicking another adds to the search. Despite the fact that you can't actually type keywords into the box by hand in this search mode, I think this is a great UI that definitely speeds up searching. The only other drawback I see for now is that it appears you can't do an 'or' search. However, holding option when clicking a keyword will exclude it from a search, so instead of 'Family and outdoors,' like I have in the screenshot, holding option when clicking the outdoors keyword built the search as 'Family and not outdoors.' Awesome.

[Update: Commenter bistromaths pointed out that you actually can create an OR boolean keyword search by hold shift instead of option when selecting more than one keywords. This works well, though I am beginning to wish Apple would provide some kind of a little popup or other UI to tell users about these handy features.]



That's about everything I've found so far with iPhoto's new keyword abilities. Did I miss something? You know what to do.

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