Review: Take Control of Photos, 3rd Edition, by Jason Snell

PhotosThe iPhone does a great job of taking pictures, but taking pictures is only the beginning.  Once your pictures and video are in Photos, there is so much you can do to edit, organize, search, and share your photos and videos.  There is no “help” button in the Photos app, but you can learn everything that you need to know about Photos in the new-and-improved third edition of Take Control of Photos by Jason Snell.  I was provided a free review copy of this ebook, and I’m impressed.  If you want to get more out of the Photos app yourself, or if you want a great present idea for someone else who loves to take pictures with an iPhone, this $14.99 ebook is a great resource.  It comes in three formats—PDF, EPUB, and Mobipocket (Kindle)—so it can be read on nearly any device.  I read my copy in a PDF app (PDF Expert) on my iPad, and that worked great.


The Photos app can be used on the iPhone, iPad, and Mac.  This book covers all three platforms.  Most features can be used on all three devices, but when a feature is only available on one platform or works differently on that platform, Jason explains the differences, such as in the section of the book discussing Portrait Mode Photos:


This book is full of pictures that make it very easy to see what Jason is describing.  That means that you see a lot of pictures of Jason’s family and friends in this book, and it also means that what he showing off in the book is very similar to what you will see as you work with your own photo library because his example photos seem typical of a real photo library.

This book covers the basics including the Photos interface, the ways in which you can organize your library, tips for using search, and lots of advice for editing photos, such as an explanation of what all of the different light adjustments can do.


There are detailed sections on sharing photos.  Relatively new additions to the Photos app covered in this book include shared photo libraries, live search in Photos, and duplicate detection.

Jason Snell has been writing a “Take Control” book about Photos since 2015, when he first wrote a book about using Photos on the Mac.  In 2018, he released the first edition of the current version of this book, which covers the Mac, iPhone, and iPad, and that first version was about 150 pages.  The second edition was almost 175 pages, and this edition is just over 200 pages.  Page count is only a crude metric; more relevant is the number of years that Jason has been writing these books.  The latest version of this book reveals his deep understanding of how the Photos app works, and he is able to explain everything in a way that is easy for anyone to understand.

If you consider yourself a more advanced user of the Photos app, then I don’t think that this book is for you.  There are other resources that provide detailed editing tips on certain types of pictures, such as getting the best looking picture at sunset or in the snow or making the most of HDR photography, and this book doesn’t go deep on topics like that.  Also, this book only discusses using Photos in conjunction with Shortcuts app once, when Jason describes (and shares) a shortcut for resizing photos to make them easier to share.  But to be fair, Photos itself is a basic app.  Once you start getting into more sophisticated projects, you are more likely to use specialized apps like Photoshop or Pixelmator, not Photos.

On the other hand, for any beginning or intermediate level owner of an iPhone, iPad, and/or Mac who has an interest in doing more with Photos, this is an excellent resource.  You already know if that describes you, and that is also why I can see this being a nice gift for Christmas or another occasion if you know of someone who has an interest in doing more with the Photos app and would appreciate a well-written guide that has lots of information in one place.

If you are still not sure if this book is right for you, fortunately, you don’t have to guess.  The publisher provides this link where you can download sample pages from across the entire book, and it is a generous sample: 49 pages, including the full index.  Flipping through those dozens of pages will give you a good sense of whether this book is right for you.

Click here to get Take Control of Photos by Jason Snell ($14.99)

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