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Review of iLife '11: A Nearly Perfect Software Suite

About.com Rating 4 Star Rating

By Tom Nelson and Mary F. O'Connor

Review of iLife '11 – iLife '11 is a Practically Perfect Software Suite for Your Mac

iLife '11

The Bottom Line

iLife '11 offers outstanding value. Even if you only need a couple of the applications, it's still a great deal.

iPhoto is a consumer-oriented photo editor that makes it easy to manage and share a large collection of photos. It has basic image editing tools for adjusting contrast and color saturation, zapping red eye, cropping, and jazzing up images with special effects. You can use iMovie to whip your home movies into shape, as well as add audio and special effects. iDVD simplifies the process of creating DVDs of your photos and movies. iWeb is basic web design software suitable for creating simple web sites.


  • Outstanding value.
  • All five applications in this software suite are well designed and easy to use.
  • New Places slideshow theme in iPhoto lets you view your photos by their physical locations.
  • New audio tools in iMovie make it easier to edit audio; improved instant replay feature.
  • New piano and guitar lessons available for GarageBand.


  • No updates to iWeb.
  • No updates to iDVD.
  • Other updates are incremental rather than innovative.
  • Updates to iPhoto focus on viewing and sharing photos more than editing them.
  • No full-screen option in iMovie.


  • Requires Snow Leopard (Mac OS 10.6.3 or later)
  • Requires minimum 1 GB of RAM and 5 GB hard drive space
  • Requires a Mac with an Intel Core Duo processor or better

Guide Review - Review of iLife '11: A Nearly Perfect Software Suite

Apple iLife '11 is about as perfect as a software suite can be. It combines five professional-quality multimedia applications at a price that's less than you would normally pay for many individual applications. The good news is iLife costs $20 less than it used to; the bad news is that's probably because Apple didn't update iWeb or iDVD. The updates to the other programs are incremental rather than innovative, but they're worth the cost of upgrading.

The stars of iLife are iPhoto, iMovie, and GarageBand. iPhoto offers a few minor updates from the previous version, including more options for sharing images with friends and family, new slideshow themes, a tabbed interface in the editor, the ability to create letterpress cards, and the option to view the workspace in full-screen mode. It can import photos from a scanner, and photos or video clips from a digital camera or camcorder. It supports basic image editing, including adjusting brightness, contrast, and black and white levels, eliminating red eye, and straightening off-kilter images. You can use iPhoto to organize photos into albums by subject, date, location, or other criteria, as well as assemble them into a variety of slide shows or share them via email or on a web site, including Facebook.

iMovie is a non-destructive video editor, which means you can experiment without losing the original video. It may appear a bit daunting at first, but it's one of the most user-friendly video editors available, particularly for novices. One of the new features lets you create your own movie trailers, although that sounds better than it actually is; you can also make a movie look like a news event. New audio editing tools let you tweak the audio as well as add special effects, and new online options let you share your movies quickly and easily.

GarageBand turns your Mac into your own personal recording studio. In addition to recording music, you can also use GarageBand to record a podcast for your web site, or to add sound effects or music to a home movie or podcast. GarageBand also offers a number of tools for learning to play a piano or guitar, and keeps track of your progress. In addition to the built-in lessons, you can also purchase celebrity-guided lessons that teach you to play some of each artist's songs.

You can use iDVD to burn DVDs of any digital media, as well as create custom photo slideshows and video albums for friends and family. The package bundles a collection of themes, including titles, buttons, and menus. You can also import music and other audio files from GarageBand and iTunes.

iWeb is the weakest part of the package. While it lets you create and customize web sites with drag-and-drop simplicity, its features and options are fairly limited. Unless all you want to do is create a very simple personal site, you're better off with an HTML editor or WYSIWYG program that offers more features and flexibility, even if it does have a steeper learning curve.

Disclosure: A review copy was provided by the publisher. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.

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