- The Washington Times - Monday, February 6, 2006

Apple Computer introduced the $79 ILife suite of software applications last month along with its new, Intel-based computers. ILife is a touchstone of Mac applications, containing IPhoto, IMovie, IDVD, IWeb and Garage Band — a music-making and podcast-making tool that musicians and others will appreciate.

ILife gives you five applications for about $16 each, or $20 each if you buy the $99 “family pack” that lets you install the programs on up to five computers. Either way, it’s a huge bargain, even if you don’t use all the applications. In fact, if all you use is IWeb and IPhoto, you might well imagine you’ve gotten your money’s worth.

Let’s start with IPhoto, perhaps the flagship component. This program can be used to collect, import and catalog your digital photos. It can also edit and enhance them. IPhoto, now in its sixth iteration, will handle up to 250,000 photos without hiccuping.

Apple employs a “Scroll Guide” to indicate which digital “roll” of photos is on your screen. Click on a selected image to enlarge it for examination, editing and export.

You can also group photos for what Apple calls a “photocast,” an online album housed on the firm’s .Mac service, a $99-per-year Web host/e-mail/storage facility. The albums can be password protected and the photos can be viewed, and downloaded, on other computers via RSS readers or other users’ IPhoto software.

If that sounds a bit esoteric, consider this: You now have a way to not only store certain photos online, but also update and rearrange these online albums easily and quickly. And whoever “subscribes” to that album gets the news as soon as you update the online album.

Other new IPhoto features include the ability to view photos in full-screen mode, compare photos, make technical adjustments to those pictures and create a range of booklets and calendars, which you can have professionally printed and sent to friends and family.

I use IPhoto just about every day, and version 6 is well worth the upgrade. It’s fast — faster still on the new Intel-based IMac — and it offers enough flexibility for just about every task involving photos.

IWeb is equally impressive: There are plenty of templates, and photos can be dragged over from a media window, which capitalizes on IPhoto’s cataloging, to populate Web pages. Again, this is easier than the description may sound: You can end up with professional-looking layouts without hiring a graphic designer.

Of course, there are limits. This is not a program a big corporation would want to use to build its Web site. But for the family user, or one who needs to put up a small Web site for a business or organization, IWeb can be a lifesaver.

I’ll cover other ILife components in a future column. For now, let me suggest that the Mac user who picks up a copy of ILife ‘06 won’t be disappointed. Details at www.apple.com/ilife.

• E-mail MarkKel@aol.com or visit www.kellner.us.

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