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Smart uses for smart albums in Photos for OS X

Lesa Snider | May 25, 2015
While it may be satisfying for the OCD within you to manually organize your digital mementos into albums in Photos, you can automate the process using smart albums. These albums self-populate based on criteria you set, so when Photos detects an image that matches your criteria, it's automatically added to the smart album (just like iTunes' smart playlists).

While it may be satisfying for the OCD within you to manually organize your digital mementos into albums in Photos, you can automate the process using smart albums. These albums self-populate based on criteria you set, so when Photos detects an image that matches your criteria, it's automatically added to the smart album (just like iTunes' smart playlists).

Smart albums are insanely handy. For example, you can create one that collects all the pictures you take that include a certain keyword, say, comicon, that fall within a certain date range and that are tagged as favorites. Or how about an album that gathers all the pictures of your kids that also includes the keyword vacation? In this column, you'll learn how to make smart albums and discover a few ideas on how to use them.

Creating a smart album

To create a smart album, choose File> New Smart Album or press Command-Option-N once you've launched Photos on your Mac (you can't create smart albums in Photos for iOS). In the sheet that appears, use the menus to pick criteria. Click "+" to add another row of criteria (to remove a row, click "-"). After adding a second row, use the Match menu to tell Photos to include pictures that match any of the criteria or all of it. Think of any as or; for example, "If a face tag in the photo is Kirk or Spock or Bones, then include it in this smart album." The other Match choice is all, which gathers only the items that match all the criteria.

Finding favorites in other albums

Tagging pictures and videos as a favorite causes Photos to tuck them into the Favorites album (which is also a smart album). Unfortunately, after a few months of happy-go-lucky favoriting, the album gets bloated, so it's no longer useful for finding stuff quickly. One solution is to track down favorites in specific albums. To do it, create a smart album that includes the criteria "Photo," "is," "favorite," and then add another row that includes "Album," "is." Then, pick the album name from the third menu, and then set the Match menu to all.

Finding favorites by date

Another way to tame a gigantic Favorites album is to locate favorites based on a certain time period (alas, you can't sort the Favorites album chronologically). Create a smart album that includes the criteria "Photo," "is," "favorite," add another row with "Date," use the second and third menus to drill down to the date range you want, and then set the Match menu to all.

Finding metadata

If you shoot with multiple cameras, you can create separate smart albums for each model. Create a smart album with the criteria "Camera Model," "is," "Canon 5D Mark III" (or whatever). Add another row to limit the album to a specific lens, date range, album (or several), favorites, and so on, and then set the Match menu to all.

 

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