How to get Faces to sync between multiple computers on Photos for OS X

Your Faces album won't sync across your computers — but there's another way to see that collection across your devices.

I like being able to see images of certain family members at a glance — it's helpful for building birthday cards, for instance, or finding great blackmail photos — and it's why I've always loved the Faces feature.

But with Photos for OS X, your tagged Faces won't sync between your Macs — they live, siloed, on the machine where you first tagged them.

This is silly, and something I hope Apple fixes in the next Photos for OS X update. Until they does so, however, you're not completely out of organizational luck: There's a sneaky work-around to get those tagged photos to sync to your other computers.

How to sync specific Faces to your other Macs using Photos for OS X

Even though the Faces album won't sync currently, Apple does support cross-Mac syncing for Smart Albums. To get around the lack of Faces sync option, we're going to use Smart Albums and keyword tagging to create individual Faces albums.

  1. Open Photos for OS X.
  2. In the Albums tab, open the Faces album.
  3. Select the Face you want to sync across your Macs.

    How to get Faces to sync between multiple computers on Photos for OS X
  4. Highlight all the photos in that Face sub-album.
  5. Go to Window > Keyword Manager (or press Command-K on your keyboard).
  6. Click on Edit Keywords.
  7. Click on the plus (+) button to add a new keyword; type in the name of the person you wish to create an album for and press OK.

    How to get Faces to sync between multiple computers on Photos for OS X
  8. In the Keyword Manager, click on that person's name. All your highlighted photos will now get that keyword.
  9. Close the Keyword Manager and click the plus (+) button in the toolbar.
  10. Select Smart Album from the list.
  11. Name the smart album "Faces: [name of person]" and select the following conditions: Keyword is [name]. Press OK.

    How to get Faces to sync between multiple computers on Photos for OS X
  12. When you go back to the Albums tab, you should see your smart album appear; it will then sync to all your other iCloud Photo Library-supported Macs.

You can repeat this sequence for any other faces you'd like to add; adding every face in your collection might take some time, but it's a nice shortcut for the faces you might want to access most often.

Additionally, any time you add new photos to your Faces collection, just remember to repeat steps 5 and 9 within the Faces sub-album to get them to sync across computers.

What about the iPhone and iPad?

Unfortunately, this work-around will only show up on your computers; the iPhone and iPad currently don't support smart albums. If you really want to see your Faces on iOS, however, you can follow these additional steps.

  1. Once you've created your Smart Album, highlight all the photos within it.
  2. Press the plus (+) button and select Album.

  3. Name the album "iPhone Faces: [name]"

That album will then sync to your iOS devices; if you add any new photos, however, you'll have to update it manually by deleting all photos in the album and re-adding them from your Smart Album.