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Machine learning helps you organize your photos, and it’s really weird

Birthday party: Get out your iPhone. Vacation with friends: Snap some memorable photos. Your parents’ anniversary: Document the special occasion. Looking good today: Grab some selfies. Your iOS Photos collection probably has more people in it than a high school yearbook. It’s time to bring some order to the madness.

We’re all capturing more digital photos than ever. It’s an incredible feeling to know we can keep track of all the celebrations and important moments in our lives, but the challenge is how to find the photos we want to see later on.

Apple’s iOS Photos app is smarter than ever. It can recognize people and group them together. It just needs a little help from you to make searching easy.

Add names to people in Photos

“The Photos app uses advanced computer vision to scan all of your photos and recognize the people, scenes, and objects in them,” says Apple. The only minor issue is that you need to tell Photos who’s who, so let’s start by putting names to faces. Please note, I’m using the latest version of iOS 12 and the most recent update for the Photos app.

Open the Photos app. Tap on a photo that has a person in it, and then swipe up from the bottom of the screen. You will see a round circle with the person’s face in it. If more than one person is in the image, then you will see multiple faces.

Tap on the person’s face in the circle. At the top of the next screen, tap Add Name. Start typing. You may see the person’s name pop up from your contacts list. Tap on it to associate the photo with a contact if you like. You will get a confirmation that you’ve named that person.

Photos will try to match existing images in your collection and associate them with the people you’ve named. In my experience, it’s very accurate in finding faces and grouping them with the correct person.

Tagging names in Photos can be done piecemeal, which makes it less of a chore if you have a ton of images in your collection. You could also just sit down for a few minutes and tag all your favorites in one go.


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Explore the People album in Photos

As you name people, Photos will gather their pictures together into a special album. Open the Photos app and tap Albums. Look for the People album under People & Places and tap on it.

You may see a message telling you how many photos the app has scanned, or a note that the app is “finding people.” You may be instructed to plug your iOS device into an outlet and lock the screen to complete the scan. Otherwise, you will see a collection of people’s face with their associated names. Tap on a face to see all the images connected with that person.


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Search for people in Photos

You can use the search function in Photos to quickly find images of people you’ve tagged. Tap on the magnifying glass to pull up a list of people and categories.

You might already see the person you’re looking for right under the search bar. If not, try this next step: Type in a name to pull up associated images. You can even type in one name (tap on the name so it appears in gray in the search bar) and then add another name to find photos that have multiple people in them.

Between the People album and the search ability, you should now be able to save yourself from endlessly scrolling through your image collection in order to rediscover photos with your friends and family in them.

Adding names to faces to Photos is a simple task, it just takes a few taps to make it happen. What you’ll get is a more manageable way to browse and search your archive, so you can find those photos of your parents toasting their anniversary or that perfect shot of your spouse walking along the beach. And, of course, you’ll be able to conveniently view all your selfies, too.

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