April 21, 2018

iPhoto Course (6): Finding People and Faces in iPhoto ’11

You’ve got to believe in magic! Not that it is hard to believe, but who knew that a simple software could be so powerful that it can recognize people through their faces. I show you in this tutorial how easy it is to find people using Faces in iPhoto.

It’s safe to say that iPhoto sort of laid the groundwork for digital photograph applications by establishing a higher level of standard when it comes to tools and features. One of the innovative functionalities of iPhoto is the “Faces” which is akin to the so-called Facial Recognition System.

While ordinary individuals see this technology a bit creepy or disturbing at the outset, the benefits of utilizing Faces outweighs one’s uneasiness or apprehension. Mostly true if you are keeping hundreds of photos under your care, what more if you have thousands of images in your collection, right? Since iPhoto loves to provide its users fun as well as unchallenging ways to organize photos, the Faces feature was introduced since the ’09 version. iPhoto works by finding faces in every photograph such that each individual’s uniqueness is somehow identified and thereafter recollected every time the person is distinguished in succeeding photos.

The Basics about Faces in iPhoto

Each time you add a photo with a person or people in iPhoto, you’ll notice that you”ll find squares with “unnamed” caption over their faces, an indication that iPhoto was able to detect a face/person but could not positively identify it. On your part, you can put in their names on the space for caption so that iPhoto will store this information into its system.

faces in iPhoto

If you’re doing this for the first time, iPhoto will simply let you type-in the names but as you go along naming people, iPhoto will be able to detect familiar faces and will make suggestions based on the distinctive features of every person you have already added to iPhoto’s memory.

Soon enough you’ll be able to encounter instances when iPhoto will ask you to confirm its suggestion on the caption such as “Is this _______?”

You may then select the check (check sign) or x depending on the answer.

In addition, iPhoto also links your friends or contacts from Facebook, Flickr and e-mail. With that you’ll find that names pop-up as you type-in a name on the caption.

Using Corkboard

Another way to start working with Faces is by going to the “Faces” section from the Source list on the left-side menu.

Notice that in the “corkboard” mode, faces you’ve already noted are individually grouped and you can browse the contents of each set either by a quick thumbnail preview (by hovering and moving your mouse pointer) or  double-click so you’ll be able to view all photos in which the person was tagged.

TIP: As you hover the mouse over a set of photos, you can hold the “option” key on the keyboard so you’ll get a glimpse of the whole photo and not just a close-up view of the face.

Working with Multiple Photos

Now, going through multiple photos just to name each face can be very tiring if not time consuming.

The great thing about using the corkboard is that by selecting a person’s photo set and clicking on info you’ll see other unconfirmed matches available for that particular face. Hit that small arrow button and voila! iPhoto will display all faces that it deems to be matching the person.

Just simply click “confirm” or “reject” on each matched suggestion.

Missing Faces

As mentioned earlier, iPhoto automatically scans for faces each time you import photos. However, there are instances when you fail to see the “unnamed” caption over the face of a person, this means that iPhoto is unable to detect a face.


If you wish to name a face that is undetected you can ask iPhoto to make a rescan by clicking on Photo from the menu and then click on “Detect Missing Faces”. Wait for a while and you’ll find more unnamed faces detected. The idea is that when you call for a rescanning, iPhoto will be using a more lenient criteria for detecting faces.

Manually Adding Faces

After you’ve ran a rescan and see that still some faces remain undetected, you may add them manually by selecting on Info from the menu on the lower right of iPhoto window.

On the right panel, you’ll see “Faces” and the number of unnamed faces in the photo you’re working on. Click “Add a face…” and a square with the caption “click to name” will appear on the photo.

From there you can move and scale the size of the square before putting the name of the person in the picture.

Editing Names

To complete your photo organization iPhoto allows users to Add/Edit complete names as well as e-mail addresses of the people from your database.

You can do this on the corkboard by selecting a face one at a time and while on the info mode direct your attention on the left side panel. If you haven’t entered any information on this person yet, you can fill-out the full name and e-mail on the space provided.

That wraps up our discussion on Faces. Watch out for more handy iPhoto tips in the future!

Get iPhoto from the Mac App Store
iPhoto - Apple



About Monja

Monja is a Multimediadesigner and Mac enthusiast since she discovered the beauty of Mac Computers - she never looked back to her Windows Laptop.


  1. Nice site and contribution, Rhoda. I’ve been bouncing back and forth between iPhoto and Picasa. Hope your advice will keep me in the fold.

  2. This is so cool but this is sure costly. Steve Jobs did a great job develop the i-series. 🙂
    Annie recently posted..Personal Injury Lawyer Seattle wa

  3. hi annie,
    that´s true, my mum always says that everything with and “i” is expensive LOL! but now you can get iPhoto as a single program over the mac app store – see here:

    saves a lot of costs!

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