I just noticed that my iPhoto lost all of the "Faces" data (reason unknown). It must have happened fairly recently. I sync the entire library with my iPad, and the faces are still on the iPad. And I definitely have Time Machine backups of the library on the computer (though I don't want to just restore to an earlier state because I've added photos since).

How would you guys recommend I go about restoring this data? If I have to, I can restore an earlier version of the whole library and open the library data file (it's just XML, right?) and manually copy data to the current file. I'm just curious what people here would recommend, if you're more familiar with the library format and all.

2 Answers 2


Try giving this a shot. Find your iPhoto library in your Pictures folder (unless you've moved it).

Right click on it, and hit Show Package Contents. In the resulting folder, look for two files named face_blob.db and face.db. These are the two files that probably got corrupted in your case.

Now, I'd browse your Time Machine backups and look for the last date when you had faces. Copy those two files from the past, and replace the current files (make a backup of those just in case).

That should do the trick.

  • Worked perfectly, thanks! The file was in /iPhoto Library/Database/apdb/Faces.db and I only needed to restore to a week ago. Everything's there and I just needed to re-scan the faces from the past week. Thanks!
    – David
    Commented Mar 25, 2012 at 20:55
  • No problem, glad you got it working. Commented Mar 25, 2012 at 21:02

The same thing happened to me, thousands and thousands of face-tagged photos in iPhoto completely lost that info after the latest OSX update (May 11).

Luckily I had Time Machine backups from before that - the files/folders that need recovering are:

Faces.db (in Pictures/iPhoto Library/Database/apdb)

Faces folder (in Pictures/iPhoto Library/Database)

Notably in the latter folder, I noticed that the folder FaceNames had almost zero entries in the current copy but older versions had a few hundred (corresponding with around the number of faces I would have guessed I tagged). I recovered from the most recent copy that had the most entries.

Upon restart, all Face tagging was back!

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