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!