Photos – Faces Data Update


Following on from my blog post yesterday, I’ve been informed by several people that the Faces UI is not syncronised between any Photos Library regardless if it’s optimised or not. In other words, if you go to the Faces panel of any synchronised Library except for the “Master” library, it looks like there is no Faces data available.

This seems totally nonsensical, so I thought I’d do a bit more digging.

It transpires that although the actual Faces UI presentation and bubbles are not synchronised, the actual Faces data is.

So although you can’t see the assigned faces in bubbles in the Faces panel of the other Library, you can still search for previously assigned faces using the search panel. So your Faces data is still accessible even on the optimised Library (and also iOS).

You can also set up a Smart Album based on an assigned face or a combination of faces and other attributes, and these will be synchronised across both types of Libraries. The full list of assigned Face names is available when setting up the Smart Album on either type of Photos Library.

This is where it starts to go a bit wacky!

If you start assigning face names on a second machine, it will start to create and populate the Faces UI bubbles with the names you assign on that machine. You can use the same names as you’ve used on the “Master” Library, but only those photos of faces that you assign on the second machine will appear in the bubbles. Any photos you’ve added names to on another library will not appear in the bubble results.

However, the face names from all Libraries are consolidated in the search or Smart Album results.

So in the Faces UI bubbles on the first machine you only see faces assigned on that machine.

In the Faces UI bubbles on the second machine you only see faces assigned on that machine.

But search results and Smart Albums for names on both machines will show consolidated results across both machines.

So for now, if you like using the Faces bubbles, I’d recommend only assigning Faces on your Master iCloud Library, but you’ll still be able to access all your faces data in Smart Albums on other Mac Libraries.

On iOS, the Smart Albums and Faces panels are not available although it is still possible to use Search on Photos on iOS to access and search your consolidated Faces information.

Ideally, it would be much simpler if Apple decided to replicate the Faces UI and bubbles across all Libraries. Version 2 perhaps!


Photos – Optimise Mac Storage

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Following on from my recent post re the new 12” Macbook and my first impressions, I forgot to mention that the background sync of my iCloud Photo Library was happening whilst I used it for the initial 24 hours. This may have had an impact on the performance I noticed. I’ll need to play with it for a few more days now that the sync has finished, to see if performance improves.

I’ve switched the Photos library on the 512GB Macbook to “Optimise Mac Storage” – this means I can have my entire 230GB Photo Library with me on the Macbook when travelling. The optimised version of the Photos Library is 132GB on the MacBook, saving me 100GB of storage.

One thing I have noticed is that even though I’ve switched on “Faces” on the main Library, the optimised version of the Library does not contain the “Faces” data and no photos have been updated with the “Faces” information?

The projects created within the main Library have also not migrated across to the optimised library?

Smart Searches and Albums are fine.

The projects is no big deal but I’m surprised that the “Faces” information is not available in the optimised Library. It’s not as though it’s disabled in the optimised Library, “Faces” is available as though I’ve not already started on the other machine.

A version 1 bug or a future enhancement?


MacBook 12″ – First Impressions

macbook-box-hw-silver-201501.jpegWell the new 12″ MacBook arrived yesterday and I spent a couple of hours setting it up. I ordered the 1.2GHz Space Grey with 8GB RAM and 512GB SSD.

It’s really easy to set up new machines these days, and the transfer of data from my MacBook Pro went without a hitch.

I’ve been pretty bullish on the new 12″ MacBook and I’ve been looking to use it primarily as a travel Mac, especially as I’m well served my my Mac Pro back at the studio. When travelling, I’ve been trying to rely solely on my iPhone 6+ and my iPad Air 2. Whilst both are great devices, there are certain tasks I can only do effectively on my Mac, but the overhead of carrying the 15″ MacBook Pro around was a little bit too much. I fully appreciated that there would be a performance hit with the MacBook, but I considered that a worthwhile trade off towards its portability and lightness. I’d previously discounted the current MacBook Airs, as once you’ve used a Retina Display, there’s no going back!

Somewhat ambitiously, I had also hoped that I would be able to use the new 12″ MacBook as both my travel Mac, as well as my ScreenCastsOnline screen recording machine. I usually have a separate machine to record the tutorials. It doesn’t need to be that powerful as all the heavy lifting of editing and encoding is done on the Mac Pro.

I’ve had the 12″ MacBook for less than 24 hrs but here are my initial thoughts…

The screen is gorgeous and gives me enough screen real estate to do the majority of tasks on it easily. I found the original 11” MacBook Air didn’t give me enough vertical space, but the 12” screen of the new MacBook is just dandy. Both ScreenFlow and Final Cut Pro both run fine and allow all the screen elements to be displayed on the MacBook One – exporting and encoding is bound to be significantly slower than my MacBook Pro, but that’s a given.

I’m not a touch typist by any stretch of the imagination, but I’m finding a few unexpected difficulties with the keyboard. The lack of travel does feel strange, but I daresay I’ll get over that in a few days. The main concern is the lack of accuracy, especially when reaching for the left hand shift key. I keep missing and hitting the key next to it. Very frustrating. It seems the keys are bigger than what I’m used to, but probably something I’ll get used to.

As far as performance is concerned, I think it will be fine for travelling, but I’m not confident I’ll be able to use it for my ScreenCastsOnline screen recording machine. I’m currently prep’ing a show using Photos and Time Machine and I’m experiencing some delays that I’m simply not used to on the MacBook Pro. It’s an absolutely unfair comparison I realise, comparing a 1.2 Ghz Intel Core M machine to a 2.6 Ghz Intel Core i7, but the difference is striking in some instances. Using the machine for standard operations I’ll expect to be doing whilst travelling seems fine and perfectly useable, but I’ll probably stick with the MacBook Pro for screen recording. Perhaps I was being a little optimistic in expecting to use the MacBook for screen recording.

The lack of ports have been a non issue as I purchased the USB-C Digital AV Multiport Adapter. This allows me to power the machine, connect my 4K monitor via HDMI as well as an Ethernet cable via an Apple Dongle in the USB 3 port – not the most elegant solution but it works. There are a number of USB-C docks under development via Kickstarter, so I really don’t see it as an issue.

One bugbear is that Apple saw fit to provide a USB-C to USB-C cable and a power adaptor with a USB-C socket. I would much rather they provided a USB-C to standard USB cable to give me more charging options.

It’s a perfect “in front of the TV machine”, hardly even know it’s there.

So initial thoughts are a little mixed after less than 24 hours.

I’ll need to play with it a bit more using a variety of applications and I’ll also need to spend a bit of time with it on the road. I just might give it the benefit of the doubt and use it to record a couple of shows before dismissing it for that task completely.

Will keep you posted.

Welcome to the Future


I’ve had the Apple Watch for a week now, and I’m still finding useful things out each day.

Previously I’d used the Remote App on the Apple Watch to control my Apple TV. Very cool never to ever lose your Apple Remote again.

Anyhow, as I’m working away at my desk, I spotted a Tweet from Matt Gemmell. Matt was using his Apple Watch to control iTunes on his iMac.

How cool!

So I thought I’d give it ago controlling iTunes on my Mac Pro.

Fired up the Remote App on the Apple Watch, got a 4 digit code and within seconds was controlling playback on iTunes. Restricted to stop, start, next and previous track and volume, but hey!

I could even see my album art blurred behind the display on the Apple Watch.


So I’m happily working away listening to some Emerson, Lake and Palmer (don’t judge me), and I get a tap reminding me to get up and move about a bit.


So I wander into the Kitchen to make a coffee – I really should start making habit of getting a glass of water – but anyway, I’m in the Kitchen leaving the Mac Pro playing in the office, and my iPhone next to the Mac Pro.

Whilst waiting for the Coffee to brew, I can hear one of my favourite tracks playing in the distance from the Mac Pro, Trilogy if you must know, and it’s coming up to one of my favourite bits.

Hang on…

I raised my hand and the Remote App is still connected on the Apple Watch.

I gave the Apple Watch display a Force Press – that’s a hard push on the display and an Airplay button appeared.

Tapped the Airplay button and my Sonos system appeared in Airplay, it’s already configured as an Airplay source, and by default will use the Sonos One speaker in the Kitchen.

Tapped the Sonos in Airplay and within seconds, iTunes on the Mac Pro handed off playback over to the Sonos in the Kitchen.

Just in time for me to hear my favourite bit.

All from my Apple Watch.

Another two taps on the Watch when I went back to the office and the music transferred back to the Mac Pro.

Welcome to the future…

Now why doesn’t this work with proximity or location awareness? Come on Apple get your act together.

Back from my trip

Safely back in the UK and in catchup mode following my recent extended holiday to the UAE, India and Napal.

Despite the best of intentions, I wasn’t able to post many photos of the trip. There are various reasons, but they may not hold up due to the fact that others on the trip did so much better than I did!

However, between us we managed to create over 500GB of photos and videos. I’m sure you’ll be seeing some soon – fresh media is always good for demonstrating various apps in the ScreenCastsOnline screencasts. Especially due to the fact that I should be doing the new Photos app and iCloud Photo Library screencasts very soon, once they come out of beta.

The trip did have some unique challenges as far as the tech was concerned.

One of my fellow travellers (and ScreenCastsOnline Magazine contributor) Allison Sheridan has done a great write up of International Travel Through the Lens of Technology as part of her NosillaCast Podcast which describes some of the challenges.

I do get a mention in the piece:

Don McAllister brought a drive called the Western Digital My Passport Wireless. This is a cool device that lets you stick in an SD card and it automatically backs it up, all without a computer. It did work well but it was impossible to verify that it was actually doing the job because there’s no display. We used my Mac to verify it from time to time because it would sometimes lose power, or take so long that we were sure it had failed. It’s a good idea, but I sure wouldn’t erase my memory cards if I were using that device. Don said that he wouldn’t travel on a trip like this with only an iPad again, he has his eye on the new 12″ Macbook for future trips.


Just one slight correction in that you can monitor when the data transfer from the SD card starts and finishes by viewing the flashing white light on the front of the device. Insert the SD card and a flashing white light indicates that data transfer has started. Once it stops flashing, the data transfer has finished and you can eject the card. You can also double check that it’s been successful by using the iOS app to view the content on the MyPassport drive. Saying that, it is pretty slow but if have patience, it seems to do the job just fine. One really neat feature is that incrementally copies your SD Cards into separate folders organised by days – very neat!

However, on such a long trip, I really would seriously consider taking a laptop with me next time, to manage, process and organise my photos and videos “on the go”. Although technically I could have used my iPad Air 2 with the SD Connection kit, even with the 128GB iPad, I soon ran out of space.

The fact I was using an iPhone 6+, a GoPro Hero 4 and a Panasonic LX100 shooting JPG, RAW and 4K video, I suppose that comes as no surprise.

The new MacBook is looking very attractive as a travel based laptop!