Apple Photos: What do you need to do to get People to sync?

Glenn Fleishman
14 December, 2017
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Apple promised that when we identified people in Photos in iOS 10 or macOS 10.12 Sierra, it would sync and merge this special album’s contents across all our linked devices. Oops! Well, it finally made it into iOS 11 and High Sierra, at least.

Macworld reader Gerry was looking forward to this working, but finds that his various devices never sync up, no matter how long he takes or how much he observes the Photos’ apps instructions to wait.

However, Gerry doesn’t use iCloud Photo Library. He says, “If iCloud Photo Library is required, then nuts!” Have some pistachios, because that feature is required. On every device on which iCloud Photo Library is enabled and you’re connected with the same iCloud account, Apple passes various information related to photos and videos.

Images, movies and metadata are synchronised centrally with, so that when you log into you have essentially the same access as if you’re using an iOS device or a Mac. However, Apple considers the People album too private. It uses device-based encryption to pass only scrambled information via iCloud, but you can’t access the People album at

Conceivably, it could sync just the People information without enabling iCloud Photo Library, but then each device wouldn’t have the same set of photos, whether as thumbnails or full-resolution images, upon which to draw. It’s a logical thing that each device has to sync the same set of photos to also sync a set of faces.

People still needs some work, however. Checking just now, I see that over 1500 images on my Mac remain to be scanned with no explanation, even though the Mac is regularly powered on and Photos is in the background.

One Comment

One person was compelled to have their say. We encourage you to do the same..

  1. Hedware says:

    I am with Gerry – my photos and iCloud – never. Apple has never got the cloud in comparison to other companies. Besides the quality of Apple software lately has been buggy and poor. Not to be trusted with precious photos.

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