1. Computer Skills

How to Create a Custom Photo Book Using iPhoto

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Read Time: 7 min

Photography, for me, began with a secondhand Zenit camera and a roll of stuff called film that had to be developed before I could see the image I’d just framed. Fast-forward to recent history and now photographs are captured digitally and viewed instantaneously.

Perhaps it’s the ease with which I can rattle off hundreds, if not thousands, of photos that means I rarely look at them after I’ve taken them. In this tutorial I will show you how to produce a custom book highlighting the best of your photography.

Getting Started

For this tutorial you will need:

  • Your best photographs
  • A Mac running OS X
  • iPhoto

For the purposes of this tutorial, I will be using the latest version of iPhoto running on OS X 10.9 Mavericks.

If you are running an earlier version of OS X, the outline and principles of the tutorial will be the same with the exception of some of the detail in the iPhoto app itself.

Tip: This tutorial assumes that you already use iPhoto to manage your photographs. If you do not, you should import your chosen photographs to iPhoto first.


iPhoto is one app, in Apple’s iLife suite of productivity and creation apps, that allows to not only to manage but to be creative with your photography.

In this tutorial, I will be using iPhoto to show you how I create my own custom photo book that features my choice of photographs.

Step 1. Create Your Photobook

Creating a new book project in iPhotoCreating a new book project in iPhotoCreating a new book project in iPhoto
Creating a new book project in iPhoto

Open the iPhoto app and Navigate to File > New Book to create the basis of your customised book.

Step 2. Choose the Style

Selecting the style of the book projectSelecting the style of the book projectSelecting the style of the book project
Selecting the style of the book project

You will then be presented with a carousel of book styles. Click the left and right arrows to rotate the carousel, alternatively use the drop down menu at the top. The available styles are:

  • Picture Book
  • Journal
  • Photo Essay
  • Modern Lines
  • Family Album
  • Line Border
  • Crayon
  • Watercolour
  • Contemporary
  • Formal
  • Texture Border
  • Simple Border
  • Snapshots
  • Folio
  • Tropical Travel
  • Asian Travel
  • Old Word Travel, and
  • Travel

You may see that the book style examples already use some of your photos to give you a sense of how the finished article may look. Don’t worry, though, as these photo suggestions can be changed later on.

Step 3. Choose the Binding

Choose the book bindingChoose the book bindingChoose the book binding
The book binding defaults to Hardcover. You may change it to Softcover or wire-bound, if you prefer

At the top of the window, defaulting to Hardcover, you can select from the following book binding types:

  • Hardcover
  • Softcover
  • Wire-bound

Step 4. Choose the Size and Colour Swatch

Choosing the size of bookChoosing the size of bookChoosing the size of book
Choosing the size of the book project

Either side of the example book you will be able to select the following dimensions:

  • Large, 280x220mm
  • Extra Large, 330x250mm

When you have found a style that you like, click the Create button to create a book of twenty pages.

Tip: Before creating a book select an Event, first, and all of the photos in that event will be used for your book.

Step 4. Add Pages

Adding a new page to the book projectAdding a new page to the book projectAdding a new page to the book project
Adding a new page to the book project

At the bottom righthand side of the iPhoto window there are four options, the first being to add a page.

If you require more pages than the pre-defined book, simply click the Add Page icon to add another page to the right of the page currently selected.

Step 5. Reorder Pages

Reorder pagesReorder pagesReorder pages
You can reorder the pages by dragging them into place

If you decide that you like photos, from one page, to appear elsewhere in your book, it is possible to click and drag any chosen page to a new position.

iPhoto will renumber and reorder the pages once you have dropped your page where you want it.

Step 6. Define the Layout

Customising the layout of a given pageCustomising the layout of a given pageCustomising the layout of a given page
Customising the layout of a given page

The default book includes pages with a number of different photos on each page. If you first selected an event and your book has been populated with photos, this is a suggestion only.

Select any page with a single-click and click the Layout icon to show the options for that page. You can choose a page template suitable for a single photo or any number of photos up to 16.

Other options available are a Text Page, a Map, a Spread or you may leave the page Blank.

The Text Page allows you to input any narrative that you’d like to compliment the photography in your book.

The Map will automatically pinpoint any points of interest from the location information included in your photos.

Tip: To add points on the map, edit your photos to ensure that they have appropriate location information stored with them. This is normally done automatically for photos taken with an iPhone, but you may need to add the information if the photo was taken with a DSLR.

The Spread option allows you to spread a photo across the double-page spread of the book.

The Blank option allows for a clear page.

Whichever Layout option you choose, there will be a number of templates available from which to choose in order to customise your book. A number of colours is also available for backgrounds, where used.

Step 7. Select Options

Customising the layout of a given pageCustomising the layout of a given pageCustomising the layout of a given page
Choosing border options and photo effects

The Options icon allows you to define the Border and Effect for specific photos.

This is handy if you wish to add a caption for each or you wish to change the photo to Black and White, Sepia or Antique.

Step 8. Select Your Photos

Selecting from a pool of photosSelecting from a pool of photosSelecting from a pool of photos
Selecting from a pool of photos

The Photos icon allows you to review the pool of photos that you have available for your book. You may not be using them all, indeed you may not wish to, but it’s a useful place to review them.

If you wish to add more photos from other Events or Albums, you may do so by seeking out the photography that you wish to use and dragging it to the name of your book project in the lefthand navigation pane of iPhoto.

Step 9. Add the Finishing Touches

Removing the Apple logoRemoving the Apple logoRemoving the Apple logo
Removing the Apple logo

You can select any photo on any page, click on it and zoom in or out. When zoomed-in, the photo can be moved around in order to effect the best result of cropping the image.

Be sure to check that all photos appear how you want them before ordering your book.

By default, all books are printed with an Apple logo  at the back. If you wish to remove this, navigate to Options > Book Settings and then deselect the tick in the Include Apple logo at end of book option.

Buy Your Book

Buying your book is easyBuying your book is easyBuying your book is easy
Buying your book is easy

When you are ready to purchase the book that you have created, click on the Buy Book icon in the centre of bottom section of the iPhoto window.

A summary of the details of your book, and the pricing, will be shown. You may change the quantity, if required. This is useful if you have created a book as a present for family or friends.

When you wish to commit to your purchased, click on the blue Checkout button. You’ll need to confirm the payment method associated with your Apple ID before your project is uploaded to Apple.

You’ll be able to watch a progress bar of your book being uploaded and you will receive a confirmation of your order via email.


Delivery is normally pretty quick. In my experience, my orders have been despatched in anything up to five business days with delivery being a few days after that.

All of my deliveries have been made by UPS and all have arrived in perfect condition. It may be that Apple uses a different carrier in your locality, though, so I can not guarantee it will be UPS.


In this tutorial I have shown you how to create, from scratch, a book of photos using Apple’s iPhoto application. I have shown you how to customise your photos and customise the pages and the layout of your book before placing an order for the delivery of the finished, printed result.

Books created with iPhoto make an excellent present for friends and family, alike.

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