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Ceiva and the Mac

Maybe this is old hat to those in the know, but I’ve just discovered a neat workaround in my annual quest for an iPhoto export plug-in that would upload photos to Ceiva picture frames. For those who don’t know about Ceiva, it’s a digital picture frame with a built-in modem. It regularly calls home to Ceiva HQ and downloads new photos to display on the frame the next day. Anyone with the correct username and password can upload photos to Ceiva’s Web site so they can be downloaded the next day, so the Ceiva is a great way to share digital photos with elderly relatives, and my family has purchased Ceiva frames and service (it requires a subscription) for my grandparents.


As much as my grandparents all love their Ceiva picture frames and adore getting new photos from members of the family, almost everything about Ceiva makes my teeth hurt. The picture frame is tiny compared to any computer screen; it’s annoying to have to pay for what is essentially another Internet account; it’s nowhere near as visually interesting as the Mac OS X screen saver with its Ken Burns Effect; and most frustrating, the Ceiva Web interface, even though it has improved over the years, is one of the clumsiest I’ve seen. The poor interface makes me feel particularly bad, because it means that I don’t upload photos to my grandparents’ frames nearly as often as I’d like.

However, in October 2004, Ceiva added a new service, which, while it’s designed for people with camera-equipped cell phones to send photos to Ceiva picture frames directly from their phones, also makes it far easier for Mac users to email pictures from within iPhoto. The trick is that (after logging in) you must click the Send from Cell link on the main Ceiva page, then turn on a unique CeivaMobile email address for every album into which you wish to send photos. After that, it’s a simple matter of selecting up to 10 photos in iPhoto, clicking the Email button, specifying Medium (640×480) as the photo size, and then sending the email message that iPhoto creates.

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This process may not be quite as elegant as an iPhoto export plug-in could be, but it’s easy once you’ve set up a nickname for the special CeivaMobile address. And even if Ceiva isn’t as cool as .Mac Slides, it doesn’t require a .Mac account to populate, nor does it require a Mac to be left on all the time to display the photos.

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