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Arranging Photos by Faces and Places in iPhoto

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What do you do when you want to see photos of specific people or look at photos taken at the cabin you rent every winter? Thankfully, you can put iPhoto to work finding all the people and all the places in your photos. Dion Scoppettuolo shows you how in this chapter from Apple Pro Training Series: iPhoto.

Note: This excerpt does not include the lesson files. The lesson files are available with purchase of the book.

This chapter is from the book

This chapter is from the book

In Lesson 3, you learned that rating, flagging, and assigning keywords to photos can make it easier to locate the photos you want to share. But what do you do when you want to see photos of specific people or look at photos taken at the cabin you rent every winter? Star ratings and flags don’t help much in those cases. Keywording could be useful, but I admit, it can be a bit time consuming. Thankfully, you can put iPhoto to work finding all the people and all the places in your photos.

Finding People in Your Photos

When you organize photos in your library, the most useful information is knowing who is in them. iPhoto can help immensely because it not only detects people’s faces in your pictures (sorry Bowser and Fluffy, pets not included), it can also recognize those same faces throughout your library.

Using Faces View

You start using the Faces feature by putting names to faces that iPhoto detects. Once iPhoto has names to associate with faces, it then can suggest other photos those people might be in.

  1. In the Source list, select Faces.

    The first time you select Faces, the Find corkboard is shown with a few people from your library displayed as starting points. iPhoto found these faces in your library but has no idea who they are. It’s up to you to add their names.

  2. Click the “unnamed” label below the boy’s picture.

  3. Type Damon, and click the small girl’s picture.

  4. Type Mia, and click the last picture, the woman.

  5. Type Mom, and press Tab to confirm the final name.

iPhoto could continue finding faces for you to name if you clicked the Show More Faces button; but for our purposes, three people are enough to learn this feature.

Confirming and Rejecting Suggestions

When you have placed a name to a face, iPhoto can continue to search your library and suggest other photos featuring that person.

  1. Click the Continue To Faces button.


    The Faces view shows a snapshot for each person you’ve named on a corkboard background. The snapshot represents a group of all the confirmed photos of that person in your library—right now, just one photo for each person. So next you can find more.

  2. On the corkboard, double-click the snapshot of Damon to view all the photos that have been confirmed to include him.

    iPhoto has found only one photo so far, the one you named. A message indicates that other Damon photos may exist.

  3. In the lower right of the window, click Confirm Additional Faces to show pictures that may include Damon.

    iPhoto displays photos it thinks include Damon, zoomed in to his face. It’s up to you to confirm or reject the identification.

  4. Click the first photo below the unconfirmed faces banner to confirm it as Damon. A green title bar indicates that this photo has been confirmed.

    If you have more than one photo to confirm, you can speed up the process by dragging a selection rectangle around all of the photos.

  5. Drag to select the remaining unconfirmed photos on the top row.

  6. Click Done.

    Using the confirmed photos as additional reference, iPhoto now has a better idea what Damon looks like. A message informs you that iPhoto has found still more photos that may include Damon.

  7. Click Confirm Additional Faces.

  8. Select the pictures that include Damon.

    A few photos, however, are not Damon but a girl. The girl has a resemblance because she’s his sister, but you’ll want to reject these photos.

  9. Double-click any photos that are not Damon, to reject the identification of these photos. When you do, a red title bar indicates it is not Damon.

  10. Click Done, then in the Source list, select Events.

With all of Damon’s photos located, you could proceed to the next snapshot on the Faces corkboard and have iPhoto locate photos of other people. Face-recognition technology is still in its infancy, so be prepared to find some suggestions that seem way off and even some instances when a face can’t be found at all. The iPhoto recognition skills are remarkable but not infallible.

Putting Names to Faces

iPhoto does a pretty good job of finding and identifying faces. When you view a photo with the Info pane open, iPhoto will often suggest the name of someone in the photo. If it can’t identify a face, it will ask you to do so.

  1. In the Source list, select Events, and then double-click The Krupps Family event.

  2. Scroll to find the photo of the family at the picnic table, and double-click the photo to display it in the viewing area.

  3. Click the Info button.

    In the Info pane, information about the faces found is shown on the photo.

    iPhoto identifies Damon in the photo and wonders about Mom but can’t figure out who the other faces belong to. You can confirm that it is indeed Mom and name the other people found in the photo.

  4. Click the checkmark on Mom’s nametag to confirm her identification.

  5. Click the unnamed tag for the small girl, and type Mia.

  6. Click the unnamed tag for the man in the photo, and type Dad.

  7. Click the Info button to close the Info pane, and then in the Source list, select Events to return to the Events view.

You can continue going through photos like this to confirm and name additional people that iPhoto finds. The end results are the same as using the Confirm Additional Faces button in the Faces confirmation window.

Adding Missed Faces

In some photos, people may be turned away from the camera or wearing a hat and glasses. As a result, iPhoto cannot recognize them or even recognize that a face is in the photo. Still, you may want to identify those photos as including a particular person. iPhoto allows you to identify and name a face even when iPhoto can’t.

  1. Return to view The Krupps Family event.

  2. Scroll to find the photo of Mia hiding behind a mask, and double-click the photo to display it in the viewing area.

  3. Click the Info button.

    The Info pane opens but no face is detected, as in the previous photo.

    It’s obvious why iPhoto doesn’t find the girl’s face, but this is still a fun photo you would want to find when looking for photos of Mia. You can help iPhoto solve the mystery of who is in this picture.

  4. In the Info pane, click “Add a face.”


    A rectangular outline appears on the photo. You can resize and reposition this rectangle to frame the face.

  5. Drag any of the handles at the corners of the rectangle to increase the size of the rectangle to fully outline the girl’s face.

  6. Drag in the center of the rectangle to center it over the face.

  7. Add Mia’s name to the nametag, and then select her from the list.

The payoff for all this naming is that you can find photos of your family members in an instant—no more searching for hours to dig up one picture you know you kept somewhere. You can even make the searching easier by combining Faces with Smart Albums.

Creating a Faces Smart Album

After you have applied names to Faces, you can create Smart Albums based on the people identified in your photos.

  1. In the Source list, select Faces.

  2. Command-click Mia’s and Damon’s snapshots.

  3. Drag the two snapshots to an empty area of the Source list.

    A Smart Album is automatically created with the name “Damon or Mia.” The Smart Album will find all the photos featuring either child, or you can choose to edit the Smart Album’s conditions as you did in Lesson 3.

  4. Choose File > Edit Smart Album.

    The Smart Album conditions open showing the search for two faces: Damon’s and Mia’s. At the top of the dialog, a condition is set to match any of those two conditions.

  5. Set the pop up menu from “any” to “all,” and then click OK.


    The Smart Album updates to show only those photos that include both Damon and Mia, not Damon or Mia. That being the case, you’ll edit the name of the Smart Album to reflect the change.

  6. Click the name of the Smart Album, and type Damon and Mia.

In the future whenever you add new photos that include Damon and Mia, they automatically will be added to this smart album.

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