Resetting People Album in the new Apple Photos – Rick from Baltimore

Special Guest Post by Rick from Baltimore

People album showing favoritesYou probably know that the Photos app on Mac and IOS has a feature where we can name people(s) in individual photos and then those people will be grouped together and added to the default People Album in the app. Sort of like keywording, but using the person’s name instead. In addition to us naming people ourselves, Photos app uses its own algorithms to identify people and that helps quite a bit in moving the naming process along.

For example, Photos app would try and find all the photos that have pictures of Uncle Ralph and then offer to add Uncle Ralph’s name to each and add those photos to the ones I had also named with Uncle Ralph. It’s not perfect but definitely better than having to sort through each of my 15000 photos trying to name all my friends and family members individually.

Prior to the release of High Sierra and IOS 11, it was necessary to name people on each computer or IOS device separately. There was no syncing of peoples names between devices sharing the same iCloud account. But now with Apples latest software updates syncing is available so that if you name someone on your mac, that name syncs over to any other device or Mac using the same iCloud account.

So if you wanted to see all the pictures of Uncle Ralph, you could go to the Peoples album and click on the image of Uncle Ralph, and voila, all the photos where you identified Uncle Ralph appear grouped together on each device you own. Very handy.

In my case, over the past couple years I have been haphazardly naming people in Photos on each of my computers and IOS devices, none of which synced, which left me with 4 separate People albums with a lot of inconsistent naming. Now with the advent of iCloud syncing, what I wanted to do is start over…wipe out all the names of people I had previously entered and then begin again on my iMac, knowing that all those newly identified people would also sync to my MacBook, iPhone, and iPad.

So what’s the problem to be solved?

Everything I read in Apple help or on the internet described how to rename one person at a time. As I have over 15000 photos, that would take me forever to go to each photo, delete any names previously entered by me or by Apple, and then add the names again. Photos app does have a function where you can merge two or more incorrectly named people to reduce the clutter, but even that would take forever trying to find all the inconsistent naming data and then merging them together for each person.

What I needed was a Reset All button that would clear all the names I had previously entered. But after asking around and checking the interwebs, I could not find any way to do that.

Then I got lucky. I was on my iMac and clicked on the People album in the left sidebar. Up popped the usual garbled mess of images and names resulting from all my prior naming efforts. In a fit of frustration, I selected all the photos in the People album, (not all the photos in my main photo library) and hit the Delete button. Much to my surprise, it didn’t delete anything. Instead, it offered to reset all the names in my People album that I had previously entered.

Exactly what I was looking for. After making a backup of my current Photo Library, I clicked delete and all the names I had entered disappeared, and Photos started reindexing all my photos, searching for names to apply. Again, exactly what I wanted. It’s now been 3 days since I reset, and all my devices are still “updating” with the cloud, but slowly but surely I’ve been able to rebuild my People album exactly the way I wanted it, all synced across all my devices. Amen and Hallelujah!

So if you want to start over naming people in your People album, this is the way to do it. One word of caution, it is a fair amount of work to rename everyone all over again, even with the help of Apple’s algorithms so make sure you are willing to put in the effort. For me, ending up with a clean, manageable and searchable People album synced across all my devices was definitely worth the effort.

11 thoughts on “Resetting People Album in the new Apple Photos – Rick from Baltimore

  1. Edgar - October 23, 2017

    I suppose you could also have merged the various versions of “Uncle Ralph”?

  2. Allison Sheridan - October 23, 2017

    Edgar – Rick’s problem was he had more than two of every person so it would have been very labor intensive. Easier to start over if he could.

  3. Rick - October 24, 2017

    Yes. I started merging but I would have had to spend almost as much time doing that as starting from scratch.

  4. Edgar - October 24, 2017

    Gotcha. As a follow up, do you know what the bottom bar is under the first picture of Allison S? I have that on one of mine and have not figured what it’s trying to tell me?

  5. Allison Sheridan - October 25, 2017

    Edgar Is it possible it’s there because it matches the Vcard I have identified as me?

  6. Sharon Dzergoski - October 25, 2017

    Hi. I have upgraded to IOS 11 on my iPhone 7 and my iPad. I have upgraded to High Sierra on my Mac. While my phone and iPad seem to have synced to each other, they have not synced with my Mac. Any clue how to force this? One reason I want my mac to sync with my phone and iPad is that I want the pictures on my mac (back of bride, profile, back of basketball player) to be put into the correct people groupings on my phone and iPad. I would even go so far as to do your solution of deleting all if I thought it would sync everything to my devices. Thanks for any help.

  7. Reimon - November 2, 2017

    since last week this iOS 11 has drive me mad. First, the photos in camera roll somehow not sorted chronologically. been resetting and restoring the phone with no luck.

    And now i notice the person album has messed up too. Somehow my first and second daughters photos are mixed up as one person. Been trying to selecting it one by one and mark “not this person” somehow get messed up again and again. I’m tired.

    I removed them but somehow iOS still recognise them whenever i tried to re-enter their names (and got it mixed up again).
    So here i am, trying to reset all. However, when i select all person and choose remove, it does nothing. It just gives me warning that the action will reset and remove person face information, but nothing happen after that.

    I haven’t upgraded to High Sierra yet. Any idea what should i do. This is the first time since the original iPhone that iOS has failed me badly. Usually there’s always a solution to any of my problem

  8. Rick - November 6, 2017

    Reimon, the feature I discovered about resetting the People album was found using High Sierra, so maybe you have to update first. But it sounds like you got the same dialogue box warning that I did and when I clicked reset it deleted all the thumbnail images in the People album and I was able to start over adding them back in so not sure what’s up with yours. If you can upgrade to High Sierra at some point, that may do it for you.

  9. Rick - November 6, 2017

    Sharon, only thing I can think of is maybe your Mac is signed in to a different iCloud account than your iOS devices?

  10. Rick - November 6, 2017

    Edgar and Allison, I also got the black bar under several images but then it eventually went away. My guess is that it indicated that Photos found additional Faces to confirm for that person but as it went away, didn’t bother to figure out why.

  11. Dan - December 3, 2017

    Rick, thank you so much for this!!! Pictures for me and my wife were merged into our son somehow. I went in and cleared the names, I marked them as not this person, then a day later they were back in under any sons name. Its been super annoying, Photos is now reindexing my images.

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