Posted Friday, June 27, 2003

Creating an iChat AV Picture Using iPhoto

Apple's new iChat AV has some great iLife angles. I'll be writing about them in the days to come, but I want to start with a quick tip.

This tip was inspired by a reader who wrote with a question: "What is an easy way to make the 64 x 64 picture for the iChat/Address Book photo box? I know iPhoto will allow for a square cropping but how does one get the resolution down to what it should be?"

This is an easy one, but first, some essential background. iChat AV and Mac OS X's Address Book can store a small photo along with a person's entry. In Address Book, the photo appears on a person's address card; in iChat, it appears in the Buddy List and in message windows. (In iChat, the picture is also called the buddy icon.)

Photos in iChat and Address Book are square and measure 64 pixels wide by 64 pixels tall. And that brings us to the reader's question: if you have a photo in your iPhoto Library that you want to use as an iChat or Address Book picture, how do you prepare it?

Here's how.

Step 1. Duplicate the photo. Because you'll be cropping the photo in the next step, you'll probably want to begin by making a duplicate of the original photo. That way, you'll still have the original, uncropped photo. To duplicate a photo, select it and choose Duplicate from the File menu (or press Command-D).

Step 2. Crop the photo. Double-click the duplicate to open it in iPhoto's edit mode. From the Constrain pop-up menu, choose Square. Drag within the photo to indicate the portion you want to keep, then click the Crop button. (For more details on cropping, see pages 78-79 of The Macintosh iLife.)

Step 3. Export the small version. You've made the photo square; now it's time to make it tiny. Choose Export from the File menu. In the Size portion of the Export dialog box, click the button labeled Scale Images No Larger Than, then type 64 in both boxes. Click the Export button, then give the new picture a name. For convenient access, save it on your desktop.

Step 4. Add the picture to iChat. Open iChat, locate the icon for the photo you just exported, and drag the icon to the picture area alongside your name. You're done.

Stay tuned for more tips on using iChat AV with the iLife programs. And in the meantime, download your free, full-color update to my book: 18 beautiful pages of tips and insights for iTunes 4, the iTunes Music Store, and the new iPod. Go get it.