Review: Photos for Mac and iOS: The Missing Manual

Maria O. Arguello reviews

Photos for Mac and iOS: The Missing Manual by Lesa Snider
O’Reilly Media, Inc
ISBN: 978-1-491-91799-2
312 pages, including a 12-page index
US $29.99
All levels
October, 2015
Rating: Excellent


Photos for the Mac and iOS were a complete puzzle to me. I replaced iPhoto for Photos when I updated to Yosemite OS X 10.10 as it is part of the operating system. I usually like to try new things, and after all, the Keynote Demo I watched showed some neat features, like its speed and sleek design, that I was eager to try. Much to my surprise it was a completely different interface from iPhoto and I was disappointed to see that it didn’t allow the use of third party apps for tweaking my photos. I muddled through as best I could until I was offered the opportunity to review Photos for the Mac and iOS: The Missing Manual. I hoped this would be the solution to my muddling through frustrations so that I could finally enjoy using Photos.

Lesa Snider has the ability to make complicated topics easy to follow and apply. She is thorough and is a good fit for The Missing Manuals series of books. This was the most enjoyable book I have ever reviewed and I have reviewed several, including another by Snider. She not only offers clear, easy to follow instructions for navigating Photos for the Mac and iOS but she goes beyond by giving helpful key shortcuts on every page. The beautiful colored graphics throughout the book make it uniquely beautiful.

The first third part of the book deals with the basics for getting started with Photos, such as importing pictures and videos, viewing and organizing your images, finding pictures, etc. About 50 pages are dedicated to improving your pictures. The latter was appreciated because I was able to understand what each of the editing tools does instead of guessing. It’s not exactly Adobe Photoshop Lightroom, which sells for $150, but for a free app with a Mac, you can’t beat it.

I decided to look into using folders, which was completely new to me. My Photos Library has over 8,000 photos and a little album organization was called for as there were too many I’d created on a whim. The author covers how to create folders, use folders, and add and remove items from folders. I spent time organizing and creating folders and now it’s a pleasure and a time saver to look for albums and photos.

When I came to the section for Slideshows and Movies, I felt very comfortable since I have created many slideshows in iPhoto. The book completes covering the app with a chapter on Printing Your Photos, Sharing and Exporting, and Creating Custom Books, Calendars, and Cards.

I have an iPad, an iPhone, and an iPod touch; knowing the differences between Photos for the Mac and how it behaves in iOS makes this book an excellent reference for anyone using Photos.

Conclusion: As I followed along it was quickly apparent that I will now have a much more favorable experience with Photos. The book is an excellent reference that explains just about anything anyone would want to know about the first version of Photos. The book strikes a good balance between providing enough basic information for beginners and providing detailed information for the advanced users.

Update: As of this writing Apple released El Capitan for the Mac and has added the use of third party apps and extensions for editing photos in Photos. This is truly welcomed. The iCloud storage prices have also been upgraded from 20 gigabytes for $0.99 to 50 gigabytes for $0.99 a month, plus 500 gigabytes for $9.99 a month and 1 terabyte for $19.99 a month. All plans still get 5 gigabytes free.

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  1. Mac Carter October 18, 2015

    Nice review, Maria! I had not heard that this book had been released. I’m looking forward to getting it. I have one general topic I suggest is really important regarding Photos that I did not see addressed. It involves Apple iCloud Photo Library.

    I suspect a lot of Apple users who take a photos are going to start using (and likely paying for) Apple’s new iCloud Photo Library service so that any and all photos they take show up on and sync across every Apple device they own.

    However, there is a somewhat hidden factor that greatly impacted the effectiveness of this cloud storage service. To use it, you really must be connected to the internet via high speed WiFi, Ethernet or a big Cellular Data plan. Without this connection, the ability to view & share photos from your iPhone or iPad are either impossible or impractical.

    For example, I was traveling in Japan the last few weeks. Nice trip and I took a LOT of photos. I uploaded my photos every day via Wifi to my iCloud Photo Library (about 200 shots/day). That part worked fine. It’s a great way to backup the photos stored on the SD card in my camera.

    However, since I was not willing to pay Verizion’s prohibitive international data plan fees, I was unable to view or share any of my 20,000+ photos with the folks who were traveling with us. I could see the tiny thumbnail version on my iPhone / iPad, but when you click on one, it is a very fuzzy picture. I also found that trying to view/share photos while on WiFi was frustratingly impractical — it took 2-3 minutes to download each and every photo.

    This requirement to be on a high speed data service is not mentioned at all on Apple’s website for the “Photos” app. I thought I’d mention this issue to you because most articles and books coming out on Photos also do not discuss this issue. I’ve talked to a senior adviser at Apple about it and he acknowledged the issue. I have not found any solution yet.

  2. Lesa Snider October 19, 2015

    Greetings! This book does cover iCloud Photo Library extensively