I have been dealing with my photo library never getting processed for facial (people) recognition & identification. I'm running a Macbook Pro 2019 (currently Ventura 13.0, Photos 8.0), 6 core Intel processor and Radeon Pro GPU - lots of processing power available to do the job. All my photos are on my local SSD, not external. This has been occurring both in Monterrey as well as when I upgraded to Ventura. Apple keeps most of the photos process undocumented so it's a major pain to figure out what's happening...or why nothing is happening.

I know the "photoanalysisd" process/engine is the primary analysis tool for all this kind of work. Regardless of what I do, it never generates any significant CPU time (more than a few seconds over a weekend) as shown by Activity Monitor.

I've tried lots of suggestions like:

  • Repairing my Photos library;
  • Resetting the faces database by deleting all the people in the "People" folder in Photos;
  • Disconnecting from iCloud Photos so everything is local;
  • Disabling all user-level background processes;
  • Seeding a couple of hundred photos with manual face tagging;
  • Rebooting the system with nothing else running, starting photos and then closing the app, confirming photoanalysisd was launched, letting it sit over the weekend, and ensuring the Mac never went to sleep while being plugged into power (this seems to help a lot of people);
  • Going "scorched earth" - Exporting all photos, deleting the old library and re-importing them to build a brand-new library;
  • Opening a support case with Apple and working it all the way up to level 4 support;
  • and lots of other attempts.

Bottom line, photoanalysisd hasn't accumulated any significant processing time, and no faces are even being detected, much less being identified or curated.

So how can I trigger face detection?


1 Answer 1


(tldr: Unplug your dang external monitor!)

Finally, I decided to get as low as a level that Apple will allow in monitoring the photoanalysisd processing that was happening:

From a terminal command prompt:

"ps -ef | grep photoanalysisd" to get the PID of the photoanalysisd process (it's the 2nd number)

"log stream --level debug -p pid# > photos.log" (pid# is the number from the step above)

After letting that run for a few hours, I dug into that photos.log file and found this little gem:


{name: ThermalPolicy, policyWeight: 5.000, response: {Decision: Absolutely Must Not Proceed, Score: 0.00, Rationale: \[{thermalLevel >= 2}\]}

Wait, what?!? No programs are running, CPU & GPU are at less than 5%, yet it's not running because something is too hot? Heck, even my monitors have been blanked out for the last several hours!

In my personal setup, I've got 2 external monitors - one plugged directly into the mac, and one running off a USB hub. So, for shits & giggles I unplugged both external monitors. BAM! Within 2 minutes, photoanalysisd kicked into high gear. Overnight, it processed all 12,000 photos. Playing around a little more, it turned out I can leave the USB hub's monitor plugged in (while unplugging the directly-connected monitor) and the analysis process will still run. So, it appears that having an external monitor plugged directly into the Mac will trip some kind of thermal detection (GPU work, maybe?), and photoanalysisd won't allow itself to run.

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