I'm running the Photos app on several Macs and have iCloud Photo Library enabled. One of the Macs downloads the originals as well, the others use the Optimize Mac Storage feature. But I can't seem to find out how to sync faces across the devices.

In Apple Support article #HT204486 it states the following:

Photos lets you tag people's faces in your pictures so you can find friends easily. When you use iCloud Photo Library, these faces automatically update on all your devices.

iCloud doesn't automatically update changes to the names associated with Faces or the contents of the Faces photo album in the Photos app. You can tag people's faces with names on multiple Macs, but the face tags and Faces photo albums will remain unique to each computer.

Now I've read this a couple of times but I really can't figure out what this actually means; the first paragraph says "sure, it can be automatically updated on all your devices" but the second paragraph states "but it doesn't update changes".

Simply put: is it, or is it not, possible to have the same faces on all my macs? And if so, what is the best approach for periodically assigning photos to faces/people?

Note that I've seen a similar (one-liner) question, with an appropriate response. But these do not reflect what is stated in the support article.

Update 27 Sep, 2016: now with macOS Sierra and the accompanied Photos app this is still not possible. Meaning the new "People" feature is device specific and is not synched into the cloud. And is therefor useless if you have multiple devices. There is another question for this as well.

Update 20 May, 2017: with Photos v2.0 (3150.4.120), on macOS 10.12.5, the "Faces" feature has been renamed "People". However, it is still not possible to sync people across Macs AND iOS devices.

  • 1
    I don't know about multiple Macs, but I know that Faces data are synced to iOS devices (and thus, to iCloud). Even though the Faces album is not available in iOS Photos, you can search for names and get the corresponding photos. There might be a way to retrieve that data on other Macs as well.
    – user11633
    Jul 28, 2015 at 20:06

2 Answers 2


The key part is where it says: "These items are available only on the Mac where you created them: Faces tiles and Faces data".

Essentially, Apple Photos is the next version of iPhoto, but with much better syncing added. However, they haven't yet added sync for everything. I would like to be able to start a book project at home and finish it at my work computer, but because, like faces, books are not yet synced, this isn't possible.

Hopefully, they will start syncing the rest of the data in the next release or two.


Faces data is indeed synced. See a related question (and answer!) here: How can I expose the faces data from macOS Photos to iOS Photos?

You can search for someone (as tagged from Photos on your Mac) and have it show up, but currently can't tag someone's face from the phone.

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