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

Locate photos in Mac's iPhoto '11 by searching for particular people using the Faces feature. After locating an image in iPhoto, you can view, edit, or share it as needed. The magical Faces feature is based on facial detection and recognition technologies. Although iPhoto may fail to recognize a face altogether or falsely match a name to a face, 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 will also scan faces when you import new photos.

After you click Faces in the source list, the photos that are identified by iPhoto appear on a corkboard. Click the label below a face and type the person's name. Click Show More Faces to find what Apple thinks are more photos with the person you have just named.

Click each photo to confirm that Apple got it right or to indicate otherwise. iPhoto gets smarter as you go along and correctly IDs more pictures. You can drag across the images to confirm more than one picture at a time.

Every person whose face you've correctly identified appears on the corkboard. If you double-click a face, you'll 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 then press the spacebar when the image you want is on top.

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

On the surface, that "if known" bit seems a tad silly. You'd think you'd know all the people who are in your photos, for goodness sakes. But iPhoto will sometimes show a face of someone who is in the background of a crowded scene, like at a picnic or at a ballgame. And sometimes the face of a picture within a picture will be shown, for instance, if someone you know is posing in front of a movie poster.

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 in 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 will look on the Faces corkboard. Click to name the person.

As you type, iPhoto will suggest names from your Contacts or, for example, your Facebook account, assuming that you've established a link to the latter.

It's all well and good for you to help Apple by naming a person in a picture that iPhoto is having trouble identifying. But consider why iPhoto may be having trouble. Perhaps the image is poorly lit or blurry. Maybe the angle is off or the mug shot is too small.

Maybe you had a beard in one picture and were clean-shaven in another. And 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. Double-click a snapshot and click the Confirm Additional Faces button. 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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