iPhoto is a pig. A turkey. An embarrassment.
Starting our fourth decade: Al Fasoldt's reviews and commentaries, continuously online for 31 years


Farewell, iPhoto -- I knew ye when

February 2, 2014

By Al Fasoldt
Copyright © 2014, Al Fasoldt
Copyright © 2014, The Post-Standard

For many years, the jewel in Apple's crown of multimedia software has been iPhoto. It became famous as the single best example of a user-friendly way of doing just about everything relating to photos -- collecting, sorting, editing, showing, book making, sharing and much more.

But something inexplicable happened to iPhoto on the way to 2014. It's turned into an unfathomably arcane collection of features and functions, tripping over itself when you try to do simple things and even stopping in the middle of an operation for no apparent reason.

iPhoto is a pig. A turkey. An embarrassment.

Oh, for the good old days, when iPhoto's worst crime was putting a soundtrack on every slideshow even when you specifically unchecked the audio setting. Oh, for the days when the only real frustration came from a slowdown when you approached the limit of 25,000 pictures in a single library.

The last time I used iPhoto -- and it will always be the last, final time -- I had only 531 photos in the iPhoto library. The program croaked and died a dozen times. Changes I made to photos sometimes didn't show up. Lest you think I needed to upgrade something somewhere, let me explain that I'm running a MacBook Air with gobs of both memory and disk space, and my computer has the latest version of the Mac operating system.

If this were all that's wrong with iPhoto, I'd be temped to give Apple a pass. But it seems inexcusable that the worst aspect, one that has dogged iPhoto from the beginning, remains unfixed. It's the almost inscrutable filing system iPhoto uses.

Pictures are not stored in any rational fashion; instead, they're hidden in an arcane database populated by seemingly random numbered folders. The slighted suggestion of difficulty -- a solar flare, a cat sleeping in the same room, an electron that went left instead of right -- can cause iPhoto to scramble its database irretrievably.

I recently spent dozens of hours trying to salvage priceless photos of Haitian villagers from an imploded iPhoto database. I even knew what I was doing -- a rare thing with iPhoto, which tends to enrage even the experts among us -- yet I continued to locate lost photos, seemingly by accident, each time I returned to the task.

Mac users sometimes tell me they realize iPhoto has problems, but nothing else comes close. That's nonsense. Software that outmaneuvers iPhoto is out there waiting for you to shake its hand, so to speak, and it costs nothing. I'll tell you about it next week.