If you are anything like us you take thousands of photos every year. The sad thing is that for many these photos are rarely looked at, and then when they are the sheer number of photos can mean that we quickly give up browsing. What we need is a way to sort through our massive photo libraries to help us find the photos we want to look at - and even to share with friends and family.

This is where Photos, Apple's photo management and editing app comes in. Photos can be found on Macs, iPhones and iPads. It has some excellent features for managing your photo library, as well as tools for editing and tools for creating slideshows and other ways to enjoy your photos.

This is part of a series of articles in which we will run through the fundamentals of using Photos on the Mac. Elsewhere we cover how to get your photos on to your Mac, the different ways you can view your photos on the Mac, and how you can edit your photos so that they look like a professional took them, but here we will look at the various tools for organising your photos on the Mac.

If you want to jump straight to any of the above articles you can do so by clicking the links below:

In this article we will share some of our tips to help you make your photo library more accessible so it's easy to find and share your photos. For example, if you regularly 'Favourite' your best photos you won't always have thousands to flick through, and if you create Albums with the best photos from special occasions you will be able to enjoy broswing through them in the future, or even share them with friends now.

You may also like the option to create Smart Albums and have Photos automatically add images that match certain rules to them. Or perhaps you will utilise the Shared Albums feature that means you can create albums that your friends and families can comment on and even add to. Read on for the best ways to organise your photos on your Mac.

How to Favourite photos

There is one very simple way to organise your photos so that you aren’t always confronted by thousands of photographs every time you open your library. If you regularly Favourite the photos you like then you can choose a view that only shows your favourite photos.

It’s easy to favourite photos on your Mac and we recommend you do regularly as it will help you manage your library.

Select the image you like and click on the heart icon in the bar at the top of the window.

Alternatively, hoover over the image thumbnail and you will see a heart appear in the bottom left corner of the image, click on it to Favourite that image.

Favourite photo

If you regularly favourite your best photos (you can easily favourite photos on your iPhone too) you will have fewer photos to browse through when trying to create albums or when working out what to share on Facebook or Instagram.

To see only your Favourite photos click on your Favourite album in the sidebar on the left.

Use the People feature to help you find faces

Click on the People album, listed in the left sidebar under albums, to see a grid of the faces Photos has identified. Double-click on on face to see the photographs associated with it. To name a face, hover over it and click 'Add Name'.

People is good at identifying faces, but it's a long way from perfect and there will be many faces in your photos not shown here. To add one, click on 'Add People' and then choose someone from the grid that's displayed. (Pro tip: you can select multiple people by Command-clicking. They will then all be added to the People album.)

Faces in Photos

If you have lots of versions of the same person in the People album, you can Cmd-click them, then Ctrl- or right-click on one image and select Merge x People, where x is the number of faces you've clicked. All the photos identified in the different versions of the face will then be grouped and identified as the same person.

To set favourite People, Cmd-click the ones you want and drag them into the favourites section at the top of the album.To hide someone in the People album, right-click and select Hide this Person.

You can set a 'key' face (the one that's displayed on the from of a person's album) by double-clicking on the person, right-clicking on the the photo you want to use and selecting Make Key Photo.

To tell Photos that a person it's identified in a photo isn't in that photo, right-click on the photo and select 'xxx is not in this photo' where 'xxx' is the person's name. To tell Photos a person is in a photo when it hasn't recognised that, right-click on the photo, select Get Info and click the '+' next to the faces that have been identified. Drag the circle that appears on the photo over the face and start typing the person's name. When the dropdown list of names appears, select the one you want.

How to create an album

Photos is pretty good at sorting our photos into groups for you based on locations and dates. If you look at your photos in the Months view, for example, you can see photos grouped into days and locations. But Photos isn’t as good as you are when it comes to sorting through the photos you took on your trip to Disneyland or at your daughter’s birthday party.

If you want to gather a group of photos together to share on Facebook, or to make a slideshow from (as per the instructions above) follow these steps:

  1. Either click on Albums in the column on the left and then click on the + that appears when Albums is selected. Choose Album. Alternatively click on File > New Album.
  2. An Untitled Album will appear. You can give the album a name.
  3. Assuming you hadn’t already selected any images the album will be empty - you could select the images first and then create the album, in which case those images would automatically populate the album. To add images to your album you need to click on Photos in the column on the left, or alternatively go to Favourites, Face, Places, or another album. Basically the view that will make it easiest for you to locate the photos you want to add to the album.
  4. Having chosen your view you can drag photos and videos you want in your album from there into the newly created album in the sidebar (or any album you have created).

Add photos to Albums

How to add photos to an existing album

It’s easy to add photos to an album you have already created.

If you want to select a group of photos to add to an album drag a marquee over them with the mouse or trackpad, or press the Command key as you select different images. Alternatively just select the one image you want to add.

You can now add the new photos into the album by dragging them from the photo view onto the name of the album in the column on the left.

Alternatively you could select a group of photos, right click, and choose Add To and find the name of your Album there.

How to create a Smart Album

One benefit of using Photos on the Mac is that you can create Smart Albums. These albums are updated automatically based on criteria you choose.

If you wanted to make an automatically updated album that featured the latest pictures of your son you could do the following:

  1. Click on File > New Smart Album.
  2. Under Match the following condition choose: Person, Includes, [Name of person].
  3. To add further criteria click on + you could add criteria for Data Added for example. Or you could restrict the photos that are pulled into the Smart Album to a particular album, like Favourites (so that it only pulls in your preferred photos).
  4. Once you have your Smart Album open click on the drop down beside Showing. You can choose from All Items, or narrow it down by Favourites, Photos, Videos or even by keyword.

Smart Album options Photos Mac

We are disappointed that this Smart Album doesn’t appear on our iPhone or iPad Photos library, nor do those devices have the ability to create a Smart Album.

How to share photos from Photos on the Mac

Now that you have finessed your album for the viewing public it’s time to share it. One way to do this is by creating a Shared Album, which we will run through below. But first we will look at some other ways to share photos.

You can quickly share an album of photos via Mail, Messages, AirDrop just by clicking on the Share icon in the menu at the top of the window. Alternatively right click on the image or images and choose Share.

You an also add an album to a Shared Album which can be viewed by anyone you invite (more on Shared Albums next).

How to share from Photos on the Mac to Facebook

You may be wondering how to share your photos from Photos on your Mac to Facebook or Instagram. This is something that was easy in previous versions of Photos and also from your iPhone and iPad but a few years ago, with the arrival of macOS Mojave, the option to share to Facebook or similar disappeared from the Share tabs on the Mac.

Now the only way to upload photos from your Mac to Facebook is via Facebook.

  1. To upload photos to Facebook you need to start by creating a folder of the photos you want to upload (we create a folder on our desktop and drag the photos into it - this won’t remove them from Photos).
  2. Open Facebook, create a post and choose Photo/Video.
  3. A finder window will open allowing you to navigate to the folder that contains the photos you want to upload.
  4. Select the photos and click on Choose.

How to create a Shared Album

We recommend Shared Albums as a simple way to share photos with friends and family.

You can create a Shared Album and share it with friends and family. Not only can they see the photos in the album, they can also comment, like, and even add photos themselves.

This is the closest you can get to a shared family album. (We long for the day when Family Sharing will mean your photo albums are also shared automatically).

  1. To create a Shared Album hover over Shared Albums in the side-bar and click on the +.Shared Albums Photos
  2. Add your Shared Album Name, invite people (click on the + and add people from your Contacts) and add some notes.
  3. Now, you could click on Add Photos in the bar at the top of the window, but this only gives you a view of All Photos or Favourites. We recommend clicking on Photos in the side-bar and choosing an album of photos you want to add to your Shared Album.

Note that you will have to wait a few minutes while the photos are copied to the Shared Album.

Now that the album is being shared your subscriber can add photos to the album too. They can also add comments and thumbs up photos.

You could turn this album into a Public Website, which would mean that anyone with the URL would be able to view it on iCloud.com.

How to change the order of your albums

The albums you create should appear in the order you created them - so the most recently created album should be on top. You can change the order though so that the albums are sorted sot hat the oldest is on top, or so that they appear in alphabetical order.

Just right-click on My Albums and choose Sort, then pick By Name, By Oldest First, By Newest First.

It’s also possible to move Albums around - so you could move your favourite four albums to the top. To do so, click the album name in the side-bar on the left and drag it up. You will see a green line appear and when that is where you want to slot the album in let it go.

Move Albums around in Photos

Unfortunately it doesn’t seem to be possible to get the Albums to appear in the same order on the iPhone. We’ll have to wait for Apple to introduce a feature like the ability to Pin an album to the top, similar to the yea you can Pin Notes.

How to find particular photos

Creating albums will make your Photos library easier to navigate, but you don’t have to create photos in order to navigate through your library.

Apple has made searching for photos easy because Photos is able to recognise objects in photos. So, if you want to find the picture you took of a peacock you can type peacock into the Search field and Photos will show you any photos of peacocks (and in our case a few taken at Peacock Street). Similarly you could search for cake and see all your photos that include cakes. In fact you can drill down to Wedding Cake, Birthday Cake, and even Hot Cake.

If you have identified people in your photos you can also search for a person’s name and the result will include identified photos of them.

Search in Photos

If you want to jump straight to any of our other articles relating to Photos on the Mac you can do so by clicking the links below: