How to: Make an iPhoto calendar

Matthew JC. Powell
29 October, 2008
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Since Apple brought iPhoto printing services to Australia, we’ve finally had access to cool printed materials our overseas cousins have had access to for years: not just the well-publicised books, but also calendars and cards with a professional polish.

Here’s how to get a calendar looking cool.

First, pick your photos. I can’t stress enough that this is the first step and not something you do later. If you just start in making your calendar with your whole library to choose from, you’ll regret it. I recommend an initial selection of 50 or so photos. Create a new album in iPhoto and drag your selections there.

When making your selections, be mindful of issues such as lighting and focus. If a photo looks a little bit dodgy on screen, it will look really bad on glossy paper. And if it looks a bit dark on screen, remember that paper isn’t backlit, so it will look even darker when printed. If you want to make any adjustments to your photos using iPhoto’s many tools, now is the time to do it.

Click on your album of photos, then select all of them (Command-A), and click on the Calendar icon.

Then you have the option to select from a number of themes have a look at each of them and decide which you want to use. Remember, this is a calendar, so it will be hanging on the wall for a year — choose wisely.

When you’ve picked a theme, iPhoto then asks you to nominate when you want your calendar to start, and how many months you want in it. Not everyone wants a straight 12-month January to December calendar.

You can also choose to include national holidays (though, unfortunately, only for one country per calendar). You can also add any of your own calendars from iCal, and you can include any birthdays you have noted in your Address Book — a nice touch.

Click OK, and iPhoto thinks for a bit, retrieving the template for the calendar you wanted, and setting up your selected photos. You’ll be presented with the first page of your calendar, and the opportunity to give it a name. It will default to the name of the album you created. Simply click in the text box and start typing. The same goes for any text boxes you encounter — just click and type.

Then you simply drag photos from the column on the left into the space provided on the template. You have a number of different viewing options. At the top of the left column there are two buttons. The one on the left lets you select a month to work on. The one on the right is your selected photos. As you start to fill your calendar the left button will show you a thumbnail view of all the pages you’ve set up, so you can get an idea how it all flows. You’ll also notice in the list of photos that it will put a tick next to ones you’ve already used, so you can avoid repetition (this is just for convenience — you can use any photo as many times as you wish).

At the bottom of the left column are also two buttons. The one on the left gives you a view of both top and bottom pages of your calendar. The one on the right shows you just one page at a time — giving you the option to edit text in individual squares on the calendar (to, for instance, add the holidays in another country if you choose).

Each page of the calendar has a template set out for it — two photos, three photos, one photo — and an arrangement of them. If you don’t like that arrangement, fret not: simply select the page you want to change in the left column, and click on the Layouts button. You’re then given a pop-up menu of different numbers of photos per page, and within each number a selection of layouts. It’s all about freedom.

At this point you may decide you don’t like this theme after all. Go ahead and click the Themes button to make another choice. Note that not all of the themes have the same boxes for text, so if you’ve entered a subtitle on one page, and you switch to a theme that doesn’t include a subtitle box, you’ll lose what you typed.

You can also type text into individual days on the calendar. Simply click on the day you want to customise, and it will open up as a text box. Click and type. You can also drag photos onto individual days — a nice way to mark kids’ birthdays and the like. Note that for most themes you have the choice of text on a day or a photo, not both.

Here’s a tip: If you don’t like the font or style of text that iPhoto has chosen, select the text you want to change, and control-click or right-click — a menu appears from which you can customise to your heart’s content. If you want to change all of the text in your template rather than just one part, click on Settings (the button that looks like a cog) and then on the Styles tab.

And here’s another tip: if you don’t want to go to all this labour to create your calendar, let iPhoto do it for you. Just click the Autoflow button, and it will assign photos to each of the different pages. You should, however, give it a once-over before you click the Buy button — unless you really like surprises.

And that’s all there is to it. Once you’ve got it how you want it, click Buy Calendar and follow the prompts. Don’t forget to include your voucher code from the 11.2008 issue of Australian Macworld.

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