Memory is a tricky thing. Some of us are amazing when you connect names to faces, while others (and here I raise my hand) always had problems remembering names, especially when you meet someone in a context. For example, imagine an embarrassment when someone you know from work suddenly pops up at a friend's party, and you spend the next hour trying to remember their name.
As a result, I always seek a way to be able to put a name with a face. Although there are some mobile apps that claim they can help with that, I have not found any decent ones for my Android phone. (The only app that really worked for me, Evernote Hello, was killed back in 201
Google's image collection app automatically gathers your photos together in a variety of categories – including one called People. The people page offers a representative photo for each person shown in your collection; select one, and you will see all the photos with that person.
What makes the Folk page even more useful is that each image on the page can be labeled with a name. So if you see someone at a party and just can't remember their name, you can find a corner, grab your phone, go to the Photo People page and swipe down until you see their photo – and their name.
But it doesn't work unless you first notice the individuals in your collection. It's simple, but it can be time consuming, depending on how many people appear in your photos.
- On the main Google Photos page, click in the search box at the top.
- If you have a reasonable number of photos with people in them, you should see a horizontal strip of small pictures. Click the arrow to the right of the strip.
- This will take you to the folkside page. You see rows of square photos showing different individuals. This is because Google Photos collects what they consider to be photos of the same person and selects a representative photo.
- Select the person you want to identify. You see all the photos that Photos have determined contain that person. Look for a link titled "Add a Name" on that page (at the top left of the web version, at the top of the mobile app).
- Select the link and start typing. Your contact list comes up so you can choose the person's name if they are already in your list. If not, just enter the name.
- Now that you go back to the People page, the person's face will be marked by their name.
Of course, images are sometimes incorrect. In that case, you can delete a photo from someone's page.
- On the individual, place the cursor over the photo you want to delete. You see a check box in the top left corner of the image; select it.
- When you have finished selecting photos, click on the three points in the upper right corner.
- Select "Delete Photo".
You can also remove all that you are not interested in looking at – an example that picks up bad memories – from the People page completely.
- In both the web and mobile versions, click on the three points in the upper right corner of the People page.
- Select "Show & hide faces" (web) or "Hide and show people" (mobile).
- Select one of the people you want to release from the Folk page. An eye icon with a line through it will appear over the photo, and when you return to the folkside, that person will not be there.
- Would you like them back? Go back to that page and select the person. The icon will disappear, and the person will return to your People page.
Unfortunately, Google Photos lacks some features that would be practical to have. For example, you cannot add any pictures to any People page – you have to hope that the images AI will recognize and add all your photos to that person. (Something that can be very frustrating.) Watch an extra link that sometimes appears on a person's page labeled "The same or different person?" In that case, you can tell pictures like yes (or no), it's really a photo of that person.
Again, it will take time to identify and tag a whole bunch of friends and associates (especially if you have to look up their names). And since this is Google, it is a sure bet to say that it will eventually change the app's functionality (for better or worse) or entirely the sunset. I know of several people who spent hours organizing and IDing their photos in the popular Picasa photo app just because the owner Google will pull the rattan out of them in 2016.
But if you have trouble remembering names and are desperate For something that can help, give pictures a try.
Vox Media has affiliate partnerships. These do not affect editorial content, but Vox Media can earn commissions for products purchased through affiliate links. For more information, see our Ethics Policy .