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iPhoto 09 for Mac OS X: Working with Faces

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The most important addition to iPhoto '09 is Faces, which can detect faces in photos and, after you've trained it by identifying a person in a number of photos, automatically recognize that person's face in other photos. Adam Engst shows you how to use this addictive tool.
This chapter is from the book

The most important addition to iPhoto '09 is Faces, which can detect faces in photos and, after you've trained it by identifying a person in a number of photos, automatically recognize that person's face in other photos.

Faces is important for two reasons. First, as our digital photo collections grow—I have about 17,000 photos right now, and many people have far more—it becomes ever more difficult to find any given photo. That's not because iPhoto's search tools are bad, but because adding keywords or other metadata takes time many of us don't have. With a little effort spent training Faces, you can reap the benefits of having useful metadata automatically applied to many of your photos.

Second, from a historical standpoint, photos that don't identify at least the people in them (and, ideally, also the place and event at which the photos were taken) are nearly worthless. Just recently, my mother had to ask my grandmother to identify some people in an ancient family photo, since no one had thought to write names on the back. You may know who the people in your photos are, but will your children or grandchildren?

One warning. Many people find training Faces to be addictive, so you may wish to set aside some time to do it when you don't have anything more important to do.

The Faces of Faces

Unlike most of iPhoto's other modes, Faces offers a number of different views, depending on whether you're naming faces, browsing through identified faces, or training iPhoto to recognize a face.

Subsequent pages in this chapter explain these features in more detail.

To name faces:

  • Whenever you're viewing a group of photos (not events!), select a photo and click the Name button at the left side of the toolbar.

    iPhoto magnifies the photo and displays a name lozenge under any faces it has detected (Figure 4.1).

    Figure 4.1

    Figure 4.1 In naming view, iPhoto displays a name lozenge under any faces it has identified.

To browse faces:

  • Click Faces in the source pane to display the Faces corkboard, which shows a snapshot for each person you've named (Figure 4.2).
    Figure 4.2

    Figure 4.2 Click Faces in the source pane to display the Faces corkboard.

  • In the Faces corkboard, double-click a person's snapshot to display all the photos that have been identified as containing that person (Figure 4.3).
    Figure 4.3

    Figure 4.3 Double-click any face in the Faces corkboard to display all of that person's identified photos.

To train Faces:

  • Double-click a snapshot in the Faces corkboard, and, if there are any photos shown below the "So-and-so may also be in the photos below" bar, click the Confirm Name button in the toolbar.

    iPhoto switches from merely displaying the photos to letting you click them to confirm whether or not the person appears in the photos (Figure 4.4).

    Figure 4.4

    Figure 4.4 Clicking the Confirm Name button switches you into training mode.

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