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All Devices iOS's Photos' "People" Facial Recognition UI is absolutely terrible and frustrating.


macrumors 604
Original poster
Mar 17, 2004
The good: iOS's facial recognition is IMHO "pretty good". And with all ML models, it gets better as you identify more people, too.

The bad: When it makes a mistake, the UI makes it a massive pain to correct. In my case, there's a large volume of mistakes, and it's just absolutely impossible for me to make corrections at a high speed.

My case, specifically, I recognize is rare, but it highlights how bad this UI is. My wife is an identical triplet. As a result, iOS frequently mistags them. I have historically just ignored the "People" tab and I recently decided I want to actually get it corrected. This shouldn't be a big deal; I should be able to go in and fix the tags, right?

If you pull up a photo normally (i.e. not through the "People" album), then swipe/pull up on it, you see underneath the photo a list (in the form of thumbnails) of all people tagged in it. If it doesn't recognize the person, the thumbnail will be their face in this photo. If you tap that image, you can then tag them.

However, if the tagging is wrong, you can't correct it. If "Joe" is tagged as "Bob", and you see "Bob"'s thumbnail, and tap it, it will bring up a menu to rename Bob, not to change the tag to Joe. If you try to change "Bob" to "Joe", it will merge all of Bob and Joe's photos into the same person! It's easy to fix an unknown tag; but in fact, there's absolutely no way to fix a wrong tag from this screen.

Worse, you can't even see which tag goes to which person. In the case of my wife, a photo of my wife and her sister might be correctly tagged as my wife and her sister, but I can't see which face is which tag, so I don't actually know if they are tagged correctly (which may affect the ML model in the future).

Okay, so if we look at Apple's documentation, how do we fix this? Well, we're supposed to go to the People album. If we go to the People album, and pull up "Bob", then press "Select" (very unintuitive), we can scroll until we find the mistagged photos (this might be a lot of scrolling! And with "select" checked swipes can accidentally select photos). This is also the only place to check for mistagged faces since you can now select "Show Faces". But once you find the mistagged photos, you still can't correct the tagging. You can select the photo and click the "Share" button (unintuitive!) and then click "Not This Person".

Now, the photo is removed from the album. And now you can't find it. So now you have to go back to your main library, and manually find the now-untagged photo, and then you can tag it correctly.

This whole process becomes basically impossible when dealing with a large volume of photos. If a photo of my wife's sister is incorrectly tagged as her, I can't remove the tag from the actual photo. I have to instead go to my wife's "People" album, manually scroll through thousands of photos until I find it while the "Select" action is on (avoiding accidental selections), and then pick it and hit "Not This Person", then find the photo and re-tag it as her sister.

And I suspect there's several photos where she's double-tagged (it's hard to tell with Apple's bad UI). For example, there's a photo with myself, my wife, and my wife's sister. The photo is tagged...myself and my wife. It either doesn't detect the third face, or it's tagged my wife twice and doesn't show me that it has done so (since you can't tell what tag goes to what face). And there's absolutely NO way to untag her.

This is one of the worst UI situations I've seen from Apple. It's a complete nightmare to untag incorrect photos or tell if two people's tags are mixed up. I get that, in my situations, mistakes happen more than most people, but still, it shouldn't be THIS hard to fix mistags. You have to constantly switch between different views to get it done. If it was Facebook's tagging system I could literally just click on the face that's tagged and change the tag.

Anyone else experienced frustration with this? I typically expect better from Apple.

Side note: It's nearly impossible to search for stuff relating to identical twins and triplets and the Photos / face tagging because all the results are flooded by "Can FaceID be fooled by twins?!" articles.
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macrumors member
Oct 30, 2014
I agree as well. To make things worse, as of last Sunday my daughters (they're not twins, nor lookalikes) were automatically merged in one there People albums, the album of the second daughter disappeared. Spent the time and effort to remove one daughter from the wrong People album, to then find out that all this time was lost again as soon as I tagged the removed daughter with her own name. Well, not lost immediately (they remained in different people albums) but after moving away from the Peoples album and coming back. I saw the second folder for a fraction of a second before the it disappeared. Checking the remaining daughter's folder again included the other daughter as well...

I did this a second time, and a third time making 1000% sure there was no picture of the second daughter left in the first daughter's album, but to no avail... :-( By this time, it also stated at the bottom of the pictures that the peoples album was indexing and required the iPad to be locked, charging and connected to WiFi... I did it a 4th time and I left it with just the pictures of the first daughter in her own folder. Will give it a couple of days, hopefully things relearn correctly and all is good again. This is the first time I've experienced it since iOS has a People album... Up until last weekend Photos in iCloud worked flawlessly for me.


macrumors 68000
Nov 3, 2004
I really do wish you could turn this off. I have zero intention of ever allowing iCloud Photos on any of my devices, yet I have to go in and tell Photos to ignore people it finds, since it runs whenever I plug the phone in.


macrumors newbie
Jan 22, 2007
Ugh yes, I thought it was just me that was having this issue! Once a year ago I accidentally tagged a friend of mine with the same first name is me, as me, and the next day I must’ve renamed him to me and it merged both of our photos. Three times now I read on the entire people album, being especially careful not to do this, but somehow it has happened every single time. Google photos has a much better UI for tagging people, and showing you know people that need to be tagged, in my opinion. I wish Apple would put some effort into improving their UI for face tagging, but it hasn’t improved in years.

I even tried to create a smart album of unnamed faces on macOS so it’s faster to redo the people album but I can’t seem to get that working. To the original poster, have you figured out a solution to this problem or did you give up on face tagging all together?
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