Map your photos with iPhoto ’09


Map your photos with iPhoto ’09
Mac Tip #380, 15 April 2009

iPhoto ’09 takes all the hard work out of finding photos — if they have GPS co-ordinates embedded, as iPhone photos mostly do. Here’s how it works.

Sausage Tree in Honolulu.

Sausage Tree in Honolulu.


I saw this amazing tree called a “Sausage Tree” when I was in Honolulu. I took a photo. Here, let me show you … [opens iPhoto] … ummm … [scrolls] … it was … [scrolls more, and more, and more] … Oh, here it is.

Sound familiar? Looking for photos you want to show people? That kind of endless searching scenario is over, thanks to GPS-enabled cameras and cameraphones, and iPhoto ’09.

Note: there are many screenshots for this post; a gallery is included here. Click any image to see a larger version.

Import photos

When you first set up iPhoto ’09 it asks if you will allow it to look up photo locations. Choose Yes to make use of iPhoto ’09′s powerful new mapping features.

Import photos in the usual way into iPhoto. The iPhone usually includes GPS data in the photos, but not all ‘regular’ cameras do yet. You can add GPS data yourself though.1

View Extended Photo Info

To see the GPS co-ordinates for a selected photo choose View Extended Photo Info from the Photos menu. As with previous versions of iPhoto (explained in GPS tells iPhone and iPhoto roughly where they are) this shows useful information, but it can’t be clicked or copied.

iPhoto ’09 has powerful mapping

Connect to the Internet. View thumbnails of photos in iPhoto and hover over one that has GPS co-ordinates embedded. A small i is displayed in the bottom right corner. Click the i and the photo ‘flips’ to display a pin in a map.

Use the controls immediately below the map to zoom in or out, and view as terrain, satellite or hybrid. The screenshot shows a satellite view of Wellington’s Queen’s Wharf, beside the helicopter terminal. That is almost exactly where I stood to take the photo I’d selected.

Browse by location

In the left-hand Library column of iPhoto ’09 is a new Places item. Click on that to view your photos by where they were taken.

Use the View buttons below the photos to view them as a list (of thumbnails) or as pins on a map. Click a map pin to see the photo. Double click on the map to zoom in.

The new mapping features in iPhoto ’09 are absolutely riveting. They are an utterly sensible integration of mapping and imaging in a way that would not have been even possible only a couple of years ago.

1 Here’s how Maria Langer adds GPS coordinates to her photos:

A while back, I decided I wanted to include the GPS coordinates in the EXIF data for my photos. Because my cameras (a Nikon D80 and a Nikon CoolPix something-or-other) don’t have built-in GPS features or communicate via bluetooth (or any other method) with a GPS, I have to manually attach the GPS coordinates to the photos.

I say manually, but I do this with software that automates the process. (I’m not a complete idiot.)

Read Maria’s full instructions at: My Geotagging Workflow.

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8 Comments

    • Jonathan said:

      Or cheaper if you buy it in the USA. It cost me about US $90 plus shipping.

  1. Jonathan said:

    I’ve been using an ATP Photo Finder Pro for about 8 months (my serial number on the thing is in the low-100′s), and it works great, as long as it’s not too cold and the batteries are changed often (after every 16-20 hours of use). I just insert my SD card into the device and it automatically writes the GPS data to the images without use of a computer, so that when I upload to iPhoto, the photos are already very accurately tagged, with nothing further required for them to show up exactly where I took them. It’s just a matter of synching the camera clock with the GPS clock so the device knows where each photo was taken.

  2. Miraz Jordan said:

    I’m so glad you found this Post useful Murphy Mac. Thanks for the feedback.

    Have fun with the GPS stuff.

  3. Murphy Mac said:

    Couldn’t see that GPS stuff had to be turned on in iPhoto until I read your post – didni’t know why my iPhone photos weren’t mapping. Thanks for the help !

  4. Maria said:

    Thanks for the link. Glad you found the article useful. There are SO MANY ways to do this…I think we could put together quite a cookbook if we gathered together everyone’s recipe for attaching GPS locations to photos and using them with maps.

  5. Miraz Jordan said:

    Thanks for the feedback Jo.

    i hadn’t thought of geocachers, but I guess you guys would love this kind of thing. :-)

  6. Jo Fothergill said:

    I read this then went to Maria’s site and read her information.

    I have a Nokia 6121c – no GPS but the photo EXIF records the time the photos were taken. I also have a Garmin GPS60 handheld GPSr that I use for geocaching.

    Strangely I had just got back from geocaching and had taken a couple of photos so decided to see if I could use the phone & GPSr & software to geotag my photos.

    I downloaded “Loadmytracks” and “GPSPhotoLinker” both free programs for the Mac.

    “Load my tracks” connects via USB to the GPSr and downloads any tracks and saves them as gpx files. “GPSPhotoLinker” connects the two – remarkably well.

    iPhoto isn’t recognising the geotags but if I use my standalone flickr uploader the geotags are visible in Flickr.

    thanks for the very good idea!

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