Photos on Mac

Here's how you sync friends and family's faces in the Photos app across your iPhone, iPad, and Mac.

Apple's smart learning integrated system in iOS and macOS works fantastically in the Photos app. It identifies landscapes, animals, colors, and people's faces. It's quite incredible how well the facial recognition software works. Even if someone is in costume, the software is able to determine who it is.

You can add faces to your People album, where you can easily find them when you're looking for just the right pictures for your photo collage. In iOS 10 and macOS Sierra, you'll have to use a workaround to get your people to sync across devices, but in iOS 11 and macOS High Sierra, the process becomes automagic.

How to sync faces between devices in macOS High Sierra and iOS 11

Apple has finally solved the face syncing problem in iOS 11 and macOS High Sierra. No longer will you have to go through 20 steps for each face in order to sync between Macs. No longer will you have to perform keyword searches to find those faces on your iPhone. Thanks to a robust update to iCloud Photo Library. People albums will be synced across your iPhone, iPad, and Mac automagically.

So you literally don't have to do anything. All of your faces will begin syncing automatically when your device is plugged into power and the Photos app is not in use (Mac) or your device is locked (iPhone and iPad).

Sit back and enjoy the ride.

How to sync faces between devices in macOS Sierra and iOS 10

In older versions of Photos on Mac, iPhone, and iPad, syncing between devices has been a problem. It's not an actual feature of iCloud Photo Library or any other iCloud syncing. You have to manually create Smart albums and sync keywords in order to be able to view specific people on your various devices. It's a complicated workaround, but it does the trick.

  1. Launch the Photos app on your Mac.
  2. Click on People in the Albums section in your sidebar.

    Launch Photos, then select People

  3. Select a person that you want to sync across your devices.
  4. Click on Show All in order to see all photos identified as that person.

    Select a person, then select Show All

  5. Select all photos in the person's album.
  6. With the photos still selected, click on Window in the App menu in the Menu bar of your Mac.
  7. Select Keyword Manager.

    Select all photos, then select Window, then select Keyword Manager

  8. Select Edit Keywords.
  9. Click the Add (+) button in the bottom left corner of the Keyword Manager window.

    Select Manage Keywords, then select Add

  10. Select the newly created Untitled keyword.
  11. Click on Rename.
  12. Enter the person's name.
  13. Click OK.

    Select Untitiled, then rename it, then select OK

  14. Click on the person's name now listed in the Quick Group section.

    All of the photos that were selected will be tagged with the keyword.

  15. Click on the Add tool at the top right side of the Photos window.

    Select the new keyword to sync, Then, select the photo Add tool

  16. Select Smart Album in the drop down menu.
  17. Name the Smart Album after the person.

    Select Smart Album, Enter an album name

  18. Select Keyword in the first section of the conditional rules.
  19. Select Is in the second section of the conditional rules.
  20. Select the Name in the third section of the conditional rule.
  21. Click on OK.

    Select Keyword, Is, and the keyword

The photos, filtered by the person's name as a keyword, will appear in the Albums section in the sidebar of your Photos app on all other Mac computers. You can repeat these steps with every face you want to sync across your devices.

Smart Albums are not supported in iOS 10. In order to find the faces you've added on your Mac, search for the keyword you created for the name.

  1. Launch the Photos app on your iPhone or iPad.
  2. Tap the Search icon in the upper right side of the screen. It looks like a magnifying glass.
  3. Type in the first few letters of the name of the person you are looking for.
  4. Tap the search result for the keyword of the name.

    Launch the Photos app, then tap Search, then enter the keyword search

    Note: In my experience, if you type in the person's entire name, the keyword search disappears. Just type in the first few letters.

It's not perfect, but it will do until you can update your operating systems to macOS High Sierra and iOS 11.

How to remove faces from your People album in macOS High Sierra and iOS 11

Oh, it's so easy to do. Since everything syncs across all devices, you only have to do it once per face on one device.

  1. Launch the Photos app on your iPhone, iPad, or Mac.
  2. Select People from the Albums section.
  3. Select a person.
  4. Scroll down to the bottom of the album and select Remove from People Album.

This will sync across all of your devices and the person will be hidden in your People section.

How to un-sync people between devices in macOS Sierra and iOS 10

If you decide that you don't want to have a particular person's face saved as a Smart Album or keyword in Photos anymore, you can un-sync their pictures by removing albums and keywords.

  1. Open the Photos app on your Mac.
  2. Right or Control + Click on the Smart Album of the person's name you created.
  3. Select Delete Smart Album.
  4. Select Delete to confirm that you want to delete the Smart Album.

    Right or Control + Click on the Smart Album, then select Delete

  5. Select Keyword Manager.
  6. Select Edit Keywords.
  7. Select the Keyword name you want to remove.
  8. Click the Remove (-) button in the bottom left corner of the Keyword Manager window.
  9. Click OK to confirm that you want to remove the keyword.
  10. Click OK to close the Keyword Manager window.

    Select the keyword, click on the Remove button, click OK

If you want to remove a person from the People section of the Photos app on Mac, Command + click on a face. The face will automatically become hidden.

Any questions?

Do you have any questions about syncing faces across your iPhone, iPad, and Mac in macOS Sierra and iOS 10 or macOS High Sierra and iOS 11? Put them in the comments and we'll help you out.