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How to Create Greeting Cards With iPhoto

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It’s that time of year again: shopping for the whole family, decorating the house, and trying to get Christmas cards out at the last minute. In this tutorial, I’ll show you a painless way to create greeting cards -- using iPhoto -- to add that personal touch to your seasonal greetings.


The Case for iPhoto

There is a plethora of options available to make greeting cards on the Mac, from independent developers or old standbys like Hallmark, but a fine (and free) option resides within iPhoto. Furthermore, it even offers both options to print-your-own or have Apple print the cards and deliver them to your door. Let’s jump in to the process.


1. Pick Your Best Photos

The first step toward creating a wonderful card is picking the photos or images for it. If you regularly upload your camera or iPhone images to iPhoto, you can use sift through the Photos or Events tabs making selections for the card by clicking on the first image, and then using Command click to select more.

Another alternative is flagging the photos by clicking the flag icon in the upper left of each image, which will collect the images into the Flagged area on the left sidebar. Either way, once you've selected your photos, it's time to choose a card layout.

To select photos for your card, you can click the first and then hold Command while clicking to make the other selections.
To select photos for your card, you can click the first and then hold Command while clicking to make the other selections.

2. Choose a Layout

Once you've selected the photos for your card, it's time to pick a layout. With your chosen photos or album highlighted click File > New Card. The card selection menu will appear where you can choose both the type of card you want and its theme. The prices for the various card types are also listed on the design selection page (in the bottom-right corner); flat cards are $0.99, folded cards are $1.49, and letterpress cards are $2.99--not including shipping and taxes.

After highlighting your photos or selecting an album, click File > New Card to start the card creation process.
After highlighting your photos or selecting an album, click File > New Card to start the card creation process.

You can use the category drop-down menu at the top to narrow down your search for a design. Choose Holiday, for instance, to get seasonal cards. If you like the design of a card but not the color palette, each card can be changed by clicking the colored squares to the bottom right of the card design screen.

There are plenty of options in iPhoto, but choose from the Folded or Flat designs if you plan to print the card yourself.
There are plenty of options in iPhoto, but choose from the Folded or Flat designs if you plan to print the card yourself.

When you find a design you like, click the blue Create button at the bottom of iPhoto to move to the next screen, where you can tweak the photos and input your content.

Tip: Don't worry if one of the card designs suits your fancy, but doesn't use all of the photos you selected. Most designs have multiple layout options with differing amounts of photos.

3. Perfecting Your Project

After choosing the design, the card will be added under the Projects area on the left sidebar of iPhoto. The design you select will be laid out in a side-scrolling view showing the front and inside sections of the card.

You can click to select (and edit, if necessary) each component of the card. To change a card's photo arrangement, click once on a section of the card (inside or outside) and then click the Layout button in the bottom-right. While editing the arrangement, take notice of the checkbox at the bottom of the Options pane that selects whether or not to include the Apple logo on the back of the card.

Most card designs have multiple layouts so if you like the look of one theme, but want more image placeholders, just click the Layout button after you choose your desired theme.
Most card designs have multiple layouts so if you like the look of one theme, but want more image placeholders, just click the Layout button after you choose your desired theme.

Fine-tuning each image is as easy as clicking to select the image--indicated when a blue border surrounds the image--and using the Options button in the lower right to modify it with a filter. If you want more editing abilities, the Edit Photo button under the filters will give you the typical iPhoto toolset.

Even in the card view, you can still access the iPhoto editing options by clicking the Edit Photo button with the photo selected.
Even in the card view, you can still access the iPhoto editing options by clicking the Edit Photo button with the photo selected.

Sometimes, iPhoto will frame a photo in the project poorly. Click-and-drag left or right to center the photo in each frame of the layout. With a photo selected, you can also use the zoom slider bar that appears above the photo to move the viewpoint in or out. To move a photo elsewhere in the layout, click, hold, and drag it to a different frame in the card.


4. Just Add Text

Locate the text boxes in the card and double-click on them to insert your own text. In the options pane on the right side, you can edit the font. There are options for color, sizing, typeface, alignment, and you can even change the kerning and spacing with the slider bars at the bottom of the options panel. If you don't see a font you listed that you want to use, uncheck the Show Suggested Fonts to see the full list.

There are plenty of options to modify the text, but if you don't see a font you normally use, uncheck Show suggested fonts to see your full list of fonts.
There are plenty of options to modify the text, but if you don't see a font you normally use, uncheck Show suggested fonts to see your full list of fonts.
Tip: If you need some holiday-themed header text, bounce over to the holiday area of DaFont.com to download a snowy text.

5. Print or Buy

When you're satisfied with your card, you have two options: print your own or purchase the cards from Apple. If printing your own, select File > Print from the menu and set up the document for your printer. To have Apple ship them to your door, just click the Buy Card button under the card viewer. iPhoto will check your card for incomplete areas and then take you to the shopping cart to checkout. The shipping is pretty reasonable at about $7-$10 to ship 25-50 cards.

The cost for a standard folded card comes out to about $2.50 per card (depending on shipping and tax).
The cost for a standard folded card comes out to about $2.50 per card (depending on shipping and tax).

The processing and shipping takes about seven days, but expedited shipping is available for an extra fee. The cards do come with envelopes so they should just need addressing and stamps.

If you accidentally leave something out, iPhoto will try to notify you before you order your cards.
If you accidentally leave something out, iPhoto will try to notify you before you order your cards.

Simple Salutations

With this tutorial, you should be able to quickly turn your photos into charming greeting cards. It's just a matter of choosing from your photo library, arranging them on the page, and adding your text. Get cracking; the holidays will be here before you know it.

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