The iLife series, #1: The simplest ways to use iDVD

iLife is one of the most useful utilities available on the Mac. The combination of GarageBand, iPhoto, iMovie, iDVD and iWeb lets people record and archive their attempts at creating art or memories, with minimal effort and maximum convenience. Though iTunes has been cut out of the “iLife” label in the past two releases, its role is not to be underestimated either.


In a nutshell, GarageBand, iPhoto and iMovie are useful for organizing and rudimentarily editing your collections of music, photos and video respectively. GarageBand also lets you create your own music using either your own instruments or the computer keyboard, but that is matter for another post.

Once you come up with a suitable collection of videos, music and photos or a mishmash of all these, you’ll be looking for a way to present it attractively. This is where iDVD and iWeb come in.

iWeb is a basic WYSIWYG (What-You-See-Is-What-You-Get) web page creation software, that lets you design a website to share your creations with your loved ones or the world at large. Similarly, iDVD is a program that lets users create professional-looking DVDs out of their media collections – from slideshows to audio to movie clips.

iDVD Help

Once you launch iDVD, you are faced with four options, as shown in the screenshot below:

iDVD screen

If all you want to do is to burn a DVD, click on the “OneStep DVD” option. This lets you burn DVDs from digital video cameras with one single click, once you connect the camera to the PC via a cable.

To create a DVD from any movie file, use the “OneStep DVD from Movie” option that you will get from the “File” menu.

The easiest way to compile a DVD from diverse types and sources of media is using the “Magic iDVD” option. This lets you pick a theme and add media to your disk on one single screen.

Magic iDVD screen

The “theme” is the screen which first appears when you load the DVD, and you can use this to create folders and submenus, each of which can contain movies or slideshows.
Adding images, slideshows(from iPhoto folders) or video is a simple drag-and-drop affair, mainly thanks to the media sidebar, which automatically links to the “smart folders” on your Mac.

Media sidebar

You can add audio to slideshows with a single click as well, by dragging the audio file on top of the slideshow. Merely dragging audio files to the “Drop Photos here” boxes won’t work, so stay careful about that one.
When you successfully add audio to a slideshow, you will see this icon on the little window:


Once you have added all the content you want to add to your DVD, it is technically ready to burn. Hit the “Burn” button on the bottom right of your screen, insert a blank DVD, and follow the instructions from there on.
If you want to customize further, you can hit the “Create project” button that is there right next to the “burn” button. There, you will be able to reorder your photos and slideshows, set content to play automatically once the disk is inserted, and do much more.

The beauty of iDVD – as with all Mac software – is that it is highly intuitive. Keep clicking around and reading the small print, and sit back to survey the results of your first iDVD project. The help menu available on iDVD will also offer iDVD Help options to guide you through any trouble you may be having.

This weekend, I’ll be walking you through the functionality of iDVD themes – where to get more themes, how to customize and use themes, and so on. Stay tuned!