A Keynote/Photo Book
iPhoto/Aperture books are great. I love photo books. I make a photo book for every big trip that we take. I've seen the discussions about improving the print quality of the books, but what I really wanted was a way to get better control of the layout of the iPhoto books.

I originally wrote this article about iPhoto, but the same applies to Aperture-created books. Although Aperture books are much more flexible than iPhoto books, you still can't do a lot of things that you might want to do.

I should say here that what I'm about to outline is not for the faint of heart. Most people are probably quite happy with the available iPhoto book layouts. If you choose to follow my lead and head off of the beaten path you do so on your own.


iPhoto Book Layouts
The only thing that I don't like about iPhoto books are their lack of layout options. Sure, each book style has several options for number of photos per page and many page designs have customizable text– but none of these layouts have the exact layout that I may want to best present a collection of images.

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The Travel theme has some nice options, some with creative text options (I particularly like the option for 2 photos per page), but you're still limited as to what you can do. Want more than 7 photos per page? Sorry. Want text with six pictures? Sorry again.

Enter Keynote
Eventually it occurred to me to try using a tool that I'm already intimately familiar with: Keynote. The new version of Keynote that is a part of Apple's iWork is an extremely capable and flexible layout tool. You can choose the slide size to correspond nicely to the size of any of the book formats available through iPhoto. Just pick a book size (large hardcover is 11" by 8.5") and a target resolution (the iPhoto book default resolution appears to be 200dpi) and you've got your Keynote slide size (2200 x 1700 for my example).

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You can use one of Keynote's included themes or make your own. If you make your own (which I did) I would recommend delving deeply into the
Keynote package to get some of those great backgrounds. Note that each of those .kth files is also a package so you'll have to Control-Click them to view the package contents. Icon view with large icons can be helpful here. I copied every image that I liked into a new folder in ~/Pictures/

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Take those backgrounds and set them as slide backgrounds. Use Inspector -> Slide Inspector -> Appearance -> Background (I had trouble finding this myself).

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The great thing about Keynote is that you have nearly complete control over image layout and can use all of Mac OS X's amazing typographic capabilities.

Speaking of amazing typographic controls, you can use Mac OS X glyphs as vector-based clipart. This means that you can scale and rotate to your heart's content and don't have to worry about jaggies.

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So, with your pictures from iPhoto (remember the media browser is built into Keynote), some nice and free vector clipart, and a collection of nice backgrounds in hand you are all set to make your presentation/book.

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Tying it Together
I'm not going to pretend to even suggest to you how you should lay out your presentation/book– so I'll assume that you did your Keynote magic and are ready to convert from presentation to book. If you've made it this far, you're done with the difficult part. Just choose File -> Export… and save your slides as TIFFs (or JPEGs if you're drive space conscious).

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Now you have a collection of pictures that you can import into iPhoto. Create a new iPhoto book based on your newly exported slides. Make sure you choose the same size book that you used for your math earlier. Personally, I like the Travel book. It's actually my favorite book style from iPhoto. Choose a 1 picture layout and make it full page.

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Buy Your Book
That wasn't too bad, was it?