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Find People in Mac's iPhoto '11 Using the Faces Feature

How awesome would it be to locate photos on your Mac based on who's in them? Your wish is Apple's command. The magical Faces feature is based on facial detection and recognition technologies. The feature is off by a few whiskers here and there: iPhoto may fail to recognize a face or falsely match a name with a face. But you can't help but walk away impressed.

When you first open iPhoto, the program scans your library in the background to find facial matches. It also scans faces when you import new photos.

Here's how to connect names to faces in this view:

  1. Click Faces in the Source list.

    The photos that are identified by iPhoto appear on a corkboard.

  2. Click the label below the face, and type the person's name.

  3. Click Show More Faces to find what Apple thinks are more photos of the person you just named.

  4. Click each photo to confirm that Apple got it right or to indicate otherwise.

    You can drag across the images to confirm more than one picture at a time.

    iPhoto gets smarter as you go along and correctly IDs more pictures.

In the Faces view, every person whose face you've identified appears on the corkboard. If you double-click a face, you see all the underlying photos of that person that have been identified in your photo library.

You can change the snapshot that appears on the corkboard for a given person. Mouse over the mug that represents all the images of a given face by skimming your mouse pointer over a snapshot, and press the spacebar when the image you want is on top.

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Identifying faces in other ways

You have a couple of ways to identify new faces. After you click Faces in the Source list to get to the Corkboard view, click the Find Faces button at the lower-right corner of the window. iPhoto shows snapshots that it thinks it has identified properly. Click the check mark if Apple correctly identified the person. Click the X if Apple is wrong and then type the actual name.

A second way to add new faces is to click the Info (i) button on the toolbar. Doing so summons the Information pane. Examine the picture. If you see an Unnamed label below a face, just type the person's actual name — again, if known. If no label appears, click Add a Face in the Information pane.

Drag the box that appears over an undetected face, grabbing the corners to make the box larger or smaller as needed. The position and size of the box determine the way the thumbnail images look on the Faces corkboard. Click to name the person. As you type, iPhoto suggests names from your Contacts app or, for example, your Facebook account, assuming that you've established a link to the latter.

Fixing matches gone awry

Faces sometimes misjudges who's in your photos. Here a few common mistakes you may come to, um … recognize:

  • The photo bomber: iPhoto sometimes shows a face of someone who's in the background of a crowded scene, such as a picnic or a ballgame.

  • The 2D celebrity: iPhoto can mistake the face of a picture within a picture for a real person if, for example, someone you know is posing in front of a movie poster.

  • The dark, sideways glance: Perhaps the image is poorly lit or blurry. Maybe the angle is off or the mug shot is too small.

  • The hipster turned preppy: Maybe you had a beard and glasses in one picture and were clean-shaven and wearing contact lenses in another.

  • The time machine: Maybe you have a picture of your kid when she was 2 years old, but now, a few years later, she looks completely different.

If you're concerned that iPhoto may mismatch other names, you can remove a name from a face:

  1. Double-click a snapshot, and click the Confirm Additional Faces button.

  2. Select the photo you want to change so that the green label — in this case, Ed — becomes red and says Not Ed.

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