How to take photos of particular people out of your Photos library

You may have moved on, but they’re still lingering among your images.

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Let’s face it: sometimes you may need to cut someone out of your life—not just in the walking-around world, but in the digital one. Because of the efficiency and ability to collect and store images and videos indefinitely, you can have constant unwanted visual reminders of an ex or exes pervading your media library, or of family members and friends who are no longer in your life. If you’ve lost someone dear, you may also want to remove their images from your Photos library and retain them elsewhere.

This is certainly in part because of Apple’s (and other companies’) desire to help us relive wonderful moments from our past, which can include celebrating past birthdays of people now dead or inviting us to enjoy memories with people from whom we are now sundered.

Photos makes it relatively easy to excise people from our life with one important proviso: you had to tag the photos by hand or use Photos face-identifying option to pull them up there.

To be sure, these options also let you find collections of photos you can add to an album, making it easier to find pictures of someone in the future. You can also export the contents of that album and then remove the images from your Photos library if you want to retain pictures of that person’s visage offline.

To use the People album in macOS, follow these steps:

  1. In Photos, click the People album.

  2. Double-click the album for that person.

  3. Review any images that Photos wants you to look at, if that prompt appears at the top, in the interests of having better matches.

  4. Click Show More. That label is at the top of the view if there’s no slideshow, and below if it there is one.

  5. Choose Edit > Select All (Command-A) and then choose Image > Delete X Images (or press the Delete key).

  6. Confirm image deletion and they’re removed.

(To save to an album, Control-click and select Add To > New Album or an existing album.)

To use the People album iOS and iPadOS, follow these steps:

  1. In Photos, tap the Albums button at the bottom of the screen.

  2. Tap the person you want to remove.

  3. Tap Show More.

  4. Tap Select.

  5. You can tap individual images or press and drag to select many images at once.

  6. Tap the trash can icon.

  7. Confirm deletion and they’re removed.

mac911 remove people photos IDG

Dean is a good friend, but for the purposes of demonstration, he’s got to go!

(To save to an album, tap the Share button and then swipe up until you can see and tap Add to Album. You can then select a new album or an existing one.)

You can also search against a partial or full name, which sweeps in both identified entries in the People album and any images or movies you have tagged in the title, keywords, or description.

Photos’ search feature remains slow and poor even after years of development, so you may see a variety of results tagged with the same person or name with note beneath the total matched of “title,” “filename,” and so forth. There’s no way to simply select all of those, so you have to search, select, and repeat in turn.

Whichever item you select from search results, you can select photos and videos individually or use Select All in macOS or Select in iOS and iPadOS plus press and drag. You can then delete or add to an album as you wish.

This Mac 911 article is in response to a question submitted by Macworld reader Vikram.

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