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Create Your First Apple Photo Book with Motif: A Step-By-Step Guide

A person holding a custom photo book | Motif

It used to take a major commitment, not to mention patience, to create a photo book. You’d start by editing the photos in the software on your computer. Then, you’d upload the photos to an online service, struggle with an awkward interface, re-edit photos, upload them again… When you finally finished, you’d cross our fingers, hoping the book would look the way you wanted it to when it arrived.

With Motif, a simple extension for Photos on macOS, you get to skip most of those steps. Kick back with a cup of coffee while Motif does the heavy lifting for your Apple photo book.

We’ll take you step by step through this super easy process but first, let’s show you why Motif is special.

Meet Motif

Motif runs directly inside Photos on macOS. This means that, for macOS users, all their existing Albums, Smart Albums, Memories and other image collections are directly accessible without having to export or upload them to an online service.

It’s always more fun to create a photo book when you don’t have to struggle.

Getting started with Motif is as simple as going to the Mac App Store and downloading the app. Next, open Photos for macOS. Select an Album or Memory. From the “File” menu, choose “create” and “Motif.”

You’re ready to create a photo book.

The Motif Tool Kit

The first decisions you’ll make when creating a photo book in Motif involve the overall look of your project. Choose a hard or soft cover photo book in a rectangular or modern square shape.

Pick an elegant theme—the number of options is growing all the time. Portfolio White is the default. Scrolling left or right reveals other options.

If you like, you can build the book manually, picking photos and layouts for each page but, if you don’t have the time for that, choose “Autoflow,” and let Motif do the heavy lifting work for you.

The Magic of Autoflow

When you use Autoflow, Motif analyzes every photo in your photo project. It weeds out blurry images, low-quality shots that won’t print well, and duplicates. It also calculates a recommended number of pages, images used, and a price. You can adjust any of those figures, and Motif will analyze again, selecting only the best images.

When you’ve hit the sweet spot of number of pages, photos, and cost, click “Continue” to create a photo book.

Page View Mode

This is your next stop in Motif. From here, you can rearrange photos on the page, add photos, headlines, captions, and much more.

The blue bar at the top of the page view serves as your guide.

  • Cost information instantly updates as you add or remove pages. You’ll never run into sticker shock at checkout.
  • If you want to autoflow the entire book again or change the theme or format, go to settings in the blue bar.
  • If you need help, click the question mark in the blue bar, and you’ll connect to the support section on our website.

Want to zoom in on the page? There’s a slider at the upper left that makes it easy.

Changing the photo book layout in Motif

Your photos automatically flow into attractive layouts our professional designers have created. Do you have a different vision? We give you the creative freedom to change things up with your apple photo book.

  • To resize photos already on the page, hover over the layout until you see a blue divider. Drag the bar, and all the photos dynamically resize at once.
  • Go to the layout picker, located next to the text icon in the lower part of the page view. Clicking reveals an array of possibilities: thin or thick borders, designs with more or fewer photos, pictures filling the entire page or displayed across two pages. Pick your favorite and click “Apply.”

The coolest part about any of Motif’s layout views: they use your actual images rather than gray boxes. There’s no guessing how a design might look with your pictures. You get to actually see it.

Working with photos in Motif

Your image tray is at the bottom of the page view. Photos used in your project are check-marked—if you hover over them, they enlarge. Filter the image tray to show all photos, placed photos, or photos that aren’t placed.

To add a photo to a page, simply drag it out of the image tray.

Once the image is on the page, it’s easy to resize. Hover over the photo until you see the blue divider line and drag it. The other photos on the page adjust, too, so you’re not dealing with overlapping photos or images falling off the page.

Sometimes, you’ll have an artistic disagreement with Motif—it happens, even among friends. Maybe you’re looking for that gorgeous scenic image where the sunset is at its most glorious, or you might remember one particular group shot with an epic photobomb. To swap photos, click on the “similar images” icon and scroll through the outtakes. Drag your preferred photo into the layout.

Editing photos in Motif

Motif makes the basics easy. Click on a photo to change the crop or zoom out. You’ll see the image control palette. Use the slider to zoom in or out. A hand in the middle of the image lets you drag it in the frame until it appears exactly the way you want. Just click outside the image when you’re finished.

That’s only part of the power of the image palette. Select the rotate tool to change the angle—this option is a lifesaver for situations where the camera might have been slightly crooked when you took the picture. You can also use it for cool creative effects.

Working with text in Motif

Want to add captions, headlines, or titles? Click the “text icon” in page view, and a box appears. Type the text or copy and paste it. The default font, color, and weight are based on your theme, but you can change any of that as well as switch the size and alignment.

Project View mode

Think of this as your project Sherpa. This view displays the entire book at once. To get to it, click the icon in the upper right of the page view, just below the blue bar.

To change the order of pages, simply drag and drop to a new location. Project view also lets you quickly jump to pages without scrolling through the entire book.

Have a layout you love and want to replicate? Use the “clone” tool in project view. You can delete pages here, too.