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Picturing Your Photos on the iPod

iPod Missing Manual coverNote: this article is taken from iPod: The Missing Manual, Fifth Edition by Jude Biersdorfer ISBN: 0-596-52978-3 Copyright 2006 Jude Biersdorfer. All rights reserved. Used with permission from the publisher, O'Reilly Media

Who needs an overstuffed wallet with cracked plastic picture sleeves to show off your snaps? If you have an iPod or iPod Nano, you can quickly dump all your favorite shots from popular photo programs like Photoshop Elements or iPhoto right onto the iPod and view them on the iPod's glossy color screen. (And even if you don't use a photo program, you just need to tell the iPod where to harvest the pictures on your computer.)

The picture-perfect fun doesn't stop there, either. Both the regular iPod and the Nano can also display your photos in mini-slideshow form, right in the palm of your hand. And if you have the full-sized iPod, you can plug it into the television set with a special AV cable and fire up those slideshows on the living-room screen. This chapter shows you how to do everything except microwave the popcorn for the big show.

What You Need to Put Photos on Your iPod
In addition to a computer loaded with iTunes and an iPod with a color screen, you need a few other things to move pictures to 'Pod:

  • Compatible photo-organizing software for the Mac or Windows-or a folder of photos on your hard drive. The iPod and Nano can sync with several popular photo programs that you may already have. On the Mac, there's iPhoto 4.0.3 or later. Windows mavens can grab pictures from Adobe Photoshop Album or the more versatile Adobe Photoshop Elements. You can also transfer pictures from a folder of photos on your computer, like the iPhoto Library folder for those who are a few iPhoto versions behind, or My Pictures on the Windows side of the fence.

  • Digital photographs in the proper format. Most of the common photo formats used by digital cameras, Web pages, and email programs are acceptable to iTunes, along with a few others. On the Mac, you can use JPG and GIF files, as well as images in the PICT, TIFF, BMP, PNG, JPG2000, SGI, and PSD formats. In Windows, JPG, GIF, TIF, BMP, PSD, SGI, and PNG files work for the iPod.

You should remember a few other things when adding images to your iPod. For one, you can't import pictures off one of those photo CDs from the drugstore or a backup disc you made yourself-iTunes needs to pull the photos directly from your hard drive. Photos stored on DVDs or CDs won't cut it.

The iPod allies itself with one computer when it comes to photos. Unlike manual music management, where you can grab songs from several different computers and drag them onto your iPod yourself, synchronizing pictures can happen only between one iPod and one computer. If you want to load photos from a different computer, all the photos currently on the iPod will be replaced with ones from the new machine.

You also can't dump photos directly into the iPod from your digital camera-you need to go through iTunes, unless you have a gadget like the iPod Camera Connector (available for $29 at http://store.apple.com) that can siphon photos from the camera's memory card over to the iPod's hard drive. These devices don't work with the iPod Nano, though.

Getting Pictures onto the iPod
Okay, so you've got the right iPod and a bunch of pictures in iTunes-friendly formats on your hard drive. How do those photos get from your hard drive to the iPod? They get there like the music does-through iTunes.

But first, you should set up your iTunes and iPod preferences to copy the photos you want to carry around, like so:

  1. Connect the iPod to your Mac or PC with its USB cable.

  2. Once the iPod shows up in the iTunes Source list, click its icon to select it.

  3. On the iPod's preference screen, which appears in the middle of iTunes, click the Photos tab.

  4. Turn on the checkbox next to "Sync photos from" and choose your photo program or folder of choice so iTunes knows where to look for your photos. You can choose to copy over everything or just selected albums (sets of pictures).

  5. Click Apply when you've made your selections.

If you don't use any of the programs listed in the "Sync photos from" menu, and just want to copy over a folder of photos on your hard drive, select "Choose folder" from the pop-up menu and then navigate to the desired folder. You can sync just the photos in your chosen folder, or include the photos tucked away in folders inside your chosen folder, too.

Select the "All photos and albums" option if you want every single image in your photo program's library to get hauled over to the iPod. (If you don't want those bachelorette-party snaps to get copied, opt for "Selected albums" and choose only the collections you want from your photo program.)

Now, whenever you connect the iPod, it syncs the photo groups you've designated and also picks up any new pictures you've added since you last connected it. During the process, iTunes displays an " Optimizing photos…" message.

Don't let the term " optimizing" scare you: iTunes hasn't taken it upon itself to touch up your photographic efforts. The program is simply creating versions of your pictures that look good on anything from your tiny iPod screen to your TV screen. Then it tucks away these copies on your hard drive before adding them to the iPod.

Digital Photographer Alert: Storing Full-Quality Photos on the iPod
When iTunes optimizes your photos for iPoddification, it streamlines the images a bit for faster travel instead of copying the big, full-resolution files. But if you want, you can copy the full-size photo files to transfer them to another computer-good news if you're a photographer and you want to haul around a big, print-ready photo collection.

Just follow these steps:

  1. Connect the iPod and select it in the iTunes Source list. Make sure you've set up the iPod as a portable hard drive. (See Chapter 8 for details.) The short version: in your iPod's settings page in iTunes, click the Summary tab and then turn on the "Enable disk use" checkbox.

  2. Click the Photos tab in the iTunes window.

  3. Turn on the "Include full-resolution photos" checkbox.

After you sync, full-resolution copies of the photos sit happily in the Photos folder on the iPod's hard drive. (The Photos folder also has a subfolder called Thumbs that's full of iPod-optimized images all scrunched up in special .ithmb files; you can safely ignore these.)

Viewing Pictures on the iPod
Once you've got those photos freed from the confines of your computer, you'll probably want to show them off to your pals. To get to the goods, choose Photos -> Photo Library from the iPod's main screen. Or, if you opted for different photo albums when you set up your synchronization preferences, scroll to the name of the album you want to view and press the round center button.

The iPod pops up a screen filled with tiny versions of the pictures in the group you just selected. Use the scroll wheel to maneuver the little yellow highlight box, and then zoom along the rows until you get to the picture you want to see. If you have hundreds of pee-wee pix to plow through, tap the Previous and Next buttons to advance or retreat by the screenful.

Here are some other navigational tips:

  • Highlight the photo and press the center button to call up a larger version that fills the iPod screen.

  • Press the Previous and Next buttons or the click wheel to move forward or backward through pictures in an album.

  • Press the Menu button to go back to the screen of tiny photos.

Playing Slideshows on the iPod
A photo slideshow takes all the click work out of your hands and frees you to admire the pictures without distraction. To run a slideshow on the iPod itself, you need to set up a few things, like how long each photo displays and what music accompanies your trip to Disneyland.

Start by choosing Photos -> Slideshow Settings. You'll see a slew of options to shape your slideshow experience.

  • Use the Time Per Slide menu to set the amount of time each photo is displayed on screen, from 2 to 20 seconds. You can also choose to move to each new image manually with a tap of the click wheel.

  • Use the Music menu to pick one of your iPod's playlists to serve as a soundtrack for your slideshow, if you want one. You may even want to compose a playlist in iTunes just to use with a particular slideshow. If you've already got music assigned to the photo album in iPhoto, choose the From iPhoto option at the top of the menu.

  • As with your music, you can repeat and shuffle the order of your photos. You can also add fancy Hollywood-style scene transitions by choosing Photos -> Slideshow Settings -> Transitions. Pick from several dramatic photo-changing styles, including "Push across" and "Wipe from center."

  • To make sure the slideshow appears on the iPod's screen, set the TV Out setting (toward the bottom of the screen) to Off, which keeps the signal in the iPod. (Nano owners don't have to worry about this step.) Or you can select Ask, so that each time you start a slideshow, the iPod politely inquires whether you intend to run your photos on the big or small screen.

Once you've got your settings just the way you want them, select the album or photo you want to start with, and then press the Play/Pause button on the click wheel to start the show. Press the Play/Pause button again to temporarily stop the show; press it again to continue.

Your choice of music, transitions, and time per slide all match what you chose in the Slideshow settings. If you get impatient, you can also use the Previous and Next buttons on the click wheel to manually move things along.

Playing Slideshows on a TV
Flip back to the previous chapter if you need help connecting your iPod to the television set so you can display videos and photos on the TV. These figures show one possible setup. Once you've linked your color screen iPod to your TV, you're almost ready to start the show. You just need to adjust a few more things on the iPod:

  • Choose Photos -> Slideshow Settings -> TV Out -> On. The On option tells the iPod to send the slideshow out to the TV screen instead of playing it on its own screen. (You can also set it to Ask, if you want the iPod to pester you about what screen to use when the time comes.)

  • Select your local television broadcast standard. If you're in North America or Japan, choose Photos -> Slideshow Settings -> TV Signal -> NTSC. If you're in Europe or Australia, choose Photos -> Slideshow Settings -> TV Signal -> PAL. If you're in an area not listed above, check your television's manual to see what standard it uses or search the Web for "world television standards."

  • Turn on your TV and select the video input source for the iPod. You select the input for the iPod's signal the same way you tell your TV to show the signal from the DVD player or VCR. Typically, you press the Input or Display button on your TV's remote to change from the live TV signal to the new video source.

Now, cue up a slideshow on the iPod and press the Play/Pause button. Your glorious photographs-scored to the sounds of your selected music, if you wish-appear on your television screen. (Because television screens are horizontal displays, vertical shots end up with black bars along the sides.)

Your preselected slideshow settings control the show, or you can advance it manually with your thumb on the click wheel. Although just one photo at a time appears on the TV screen, if you're driving the iPod, you can see not only the current picture, but the one before it and the one after, letting you narrate your show with professional smoothness: "OK, this is Shalimar before we had to get her fur shaved off after the syrup incident…"

If you're showing a video, select the file you want to display on the TV from your Videos menu, and then press Play/Pause.


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