How to Fix Face Recognition Issues in the Google Photos App

Key takeaways:

  • Google Photos uses facial recognition to group similar faces together automatically
  • Face recognition issues can occur due to outdated app versions, incorrect settings, or limited training data
  • Fixes include updating the app, clearing cache, toggling settings, manually tagging faces, and uploading more varied photos

Google Photos is an incredibly powerful photo management app that uses facial recognition technology to automatically group photos of the same person together. This makes it easy to find all the photos of a specific friend or family member with just a few taps. However, sometimes the facial recognition feature doesn’t work quite right, leaving you with incorrectly labeled or ungrouped photos. If you’re experiencing issues with face recognition in Google Photos, try these fixes to get things working smoothly again.

Check for App Updates

One of the first things to do when encountering issues with Google Photos is to make sure you have the latest version of the app installed. Google regularly releases updates that include bug fixes and improvements to features like facial recognition.

To update Google Photos on your device:

  • Open the Google Play Store (Android) or App Store (iOS)
  • Search for “Google Photos”
  • If an update is available, tap “Update”

Clear App Cache and Data

Over time, the cache and data stored by the Google Photos app can become corrupted, leading to issues with features like facial recognition. Clearing this data can often resolve such problems.

On Android:

  1. Go to your device’s Settings
  2. Tap “Apps & notifications”
  3. Find and tap “Google Photos”
  4. Tap “Storage & cache”
  5. Tap “Clear storage” and “Clear cache”

On iOS, you’ll need to uninstall and reinstall the Google Photos app to clear its data.

Verify Face Grouping Settings

For facial recognition to work, you need to have the “Face grouping” setting enabled in Google Photos. Here’s how to check:

  1. Open the Google Photos app
  2. Tap your profile picture or initial in the top right
  3. Tap “Photos settings”
  4. Tap “Group similar faces”
  5. Make sure the toggle is turned on

You can also enable “Show pets with people” if you want Google Photos to recognize and group your furry friends as well.

Manually Tag Faces

If Google Photos isn’t automatically recognizing and grouping certain faces, you can give it a helping hand by manually tagging them.

  1. Open a photo with the face you want to tag
  2. Tap the three-dot menu in the top right and select “Tag faces”
  3. Tap on a face and enter their name
  4. Tap the checkmark to save

Manually tagging a few photos of a person helps train the facial recognition algorithm to better identify them in other photos.

Upload More Varied Photos

Google Photos’ facial recognition gets better the more photos you give it to work with. If you’re noticing issues with certain people not being recognized well, try uploading more photos of them in different lighting, angles, and contexts.

For example, if most of your photos of a friend are in dimly-lit bars, the algorithm may struggle to recognize them in bright outdoor shots. Uploading a wider variety of photos helps the AI learn to recognize that person more accurately in different scenarios.

Merge Duplicate Face Groups

Sometimes Google Photos will create multiple face groups for the same person. If you notice this happening, you can easily merge the groups:

  1. Go to the “People” view in Google Photos
  2. Tap on one of the duplicate face groups
  3. Tap the three-dot menu and select “Edit”
  4. Tap “Choose” next to “Merge with another face”
  5. Select the other duplicate face group
  6. Tap “Merge” to combine them

Retrain Face Recognition

If you’re still having trouble getting face recognition to work after trying the above steps, you can try retraining the algorithm from scratch. Note that this will erase all existing face data, so you’ll need to start over with tagging people.

  1. Open Google Photos settings
  2. Tap “Group similar faces”
  3. Toggle off “Face grouping”
  4. Tap “Turn off & delete face groups”
  5. Toggle “Face grouping” back on
  6. Manually tag faces in your most recent photos to start retraining the algorithm


Why isn’t Google Photos recognizing a specific person?

There could be a few reasons:

  • There aren’t enough clear, well-lit photos of their face
  • Most photos of them are in side profile or obscured
  • They’ve changed appearance (e.g. grown a beard, started wearing glasses)

Try uploading more varied, high-quality photos of that person and manually tagging a few to help train the algorithm.

Can I turn off facial recognition entirely?

Yes, you can disable the “Face grouping” feature in Google Photos settings. This will delete all existing face data and stop Google Photos from automatically grouping faces.

Does Google Photos recognize faces in videos?

While Google Photos can detect faces in videos, it currently doesn’t group them or allow you to tag them like you can with photos. The facial recognition features only fully work for still images.

Is Google Photos’ facial recognition technology safe and private?

Google states that face grouping is only visible to you and that they don’t use facial recognition to identify people in your photos. Face data is kept private to your account. However, if you have concerns, you can always disable the feature in settings.

With these tips and a bit of patience, you should be able to get Google Photos’ facial recognition working smoothly and accurately. Happy organizing!