IPhoto picture storage process

I am a returning iPhoto user that has pictures on PC and downloaded from various sources. I like iPhoto but want to be able to go to the source pictures outside of the iPhoto application. With the pictures imported from most other sources, this is not problem as I store them on disc in iMac first then import them into the iPhoto library. However, if I download directly from digital camera, the only access seems to be through the iPhoto application. Are the pictures only stored in the iPhoto library or are they also stored in some other location?

Simply go to iPhoto Menu -> Preferences -> Advanced and uncheck 'Copy Files to the iPhoto Library on Import'.
Now iPhoto will not copy the files, but rather simply reference them on your HD. It will create an alias to the Original file, a thumbnail and, if you modify the pics, a Modified version.
However, you need to be aware of a number of potential pitfalls using this system.
1. Import and deleting pics are more complex procedures
2. You cannot move or rename the files on your system or iPhoto will lose track of them
3. Most importantly, migrating to a new disk or computer can be much more complex.
Always allowing for personal preference, I've yet to see a good reason to run iPhoto in referenced mode unless you're using two photo organisers.
As for integrating with Windows: here's the basic truth: iPhoto does not offer that feature.

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    Message was edited by: den.thed
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