Create an 'iPhoto Lite' picture browser app

28 February 2013, 09:00

Sometimes you might want to browse through your iPhoto (or PhotoBooth) pictures in order to include one or two in an email, or word processing document. Sadly, iPhoto is annoying clunky and slow for this kind of thing. It raises my blood pressure whenever it loads because — even with a solid-state hard disk in my Mac — I have to wait at least 10 seconds for it to become responsive, and often even longer.

So here’s how to ultra-quickly create a reusable photo picker app that will let you quickly look through iPhoto and PhotoBooth snaps, and drag them to wherever you want, such as an email message you’re composing. Alternatively, if you click the Choose button on the photo picker interface the photo will open in Preview (or the system default image editor/viewer, if you’ve changed it).

1. Start by opening Automator, which you’ll find in the Applications list of Finder. When it starts, select to create a new application type of document (the icon is that of a robot holding a tube).

2. In Automator’s search field near the top left, type the following:

Ask for Photos

There’ll only be one result. Click and drag it to the right-hand side of the program window over where there’s some text reading “Drag actions or files here to build your workflow”.

3. Back in the search box type the following:

Open Finder Items

Again, there’ll only be one result, which you should drag over to the right-hand side of the window but underneath the entry you added earlier.

4. Click File → Save, then save your new app with a memorable name somewhere you can find it in future. You can save in the Applications list of Finder, perhaps, or on the desktop.

The new ‘iPhotos Lite’ app is ready for use and you can quit Automator. Run the new app like any other app, then click and drag photos anywhere you need to, or click the “Choose” button to open the photos in Preview.

The app window is resizable, as are the thumbnail images which you can make bigger using the “pinch to expand” gesture if your Mac has a trackpad, or by holding down Option (Alt) and scrolling the mouse wheel. Hit Space to Quick Look any images, and hit Space again to return to thumbnail view.

You can even search in the field at the bottom of the window, which will take advantage of iPhoto’s face recognition feature if you have it activated — searching for John Smith, for example, will return photos of that individual.

Click Cancel to quit the app.

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