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Question: Photos Missing from Search and Smart Album Results

I recently converted from iPhoto to Photos and the transition seemed to go smoothly enough. However, I've noticed that, when searching for certain pictures using either the search function or smart albums, some pictures don't seem to be included in those queries even though they are definitely in the photo library.


For example, we've gone on a few trips to Disney World. The ones from this year show up fine in both search and smart albums using any keyword, location information, etc, but the ones from 2007 only show up in search under the 'Disney World 2007' album that I created and can't be found using location information, keywords, people, etc. I checked to ensure that the location information is identical to those pictures taken this year. In addition, all faces and keywords have been updated to be consistent with photos taken this year as well.


I just tried to the Repair Tool and it doesn't seem to have done anything.


Any thoughts?

iMac Pro (2017), macOS High Sierra (10.13.3), Photos Version 3.0 (3251.12.190)

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Mar 16, 2018 5:26 AM in response to hildebr287 In response to hildebr287

You may want to check, if you have duplicate keywords.

The Keyword Manager will give you an alphabetically sorted list of all keywords, when you click the "Edit Keywords" button at the bottom of the panel.

If there are duplicate keywords, remove the duplicate items and ensure that the photos will only use the one, unique version of the keywords, that you are keeping.


The keyword search in Photo 3.0 is more reliable, if you are using the filter instead of the search field. All keywords you add to the keyword favorites will show in the filter, and you can apply the filter to any album you are viewing.

For example: I clicked the "Showing" filter for the Photos album, then checked the keywords "Bird" and "Lighthouse". Now I am only seeing the photos with both the keywords "Lighthouse" and "Bird".

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Mar 16, 2018 5:26 AM

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Mar 16, 2018 5:41 AM in response to hildebr287 In response to hildebr287

Hi Leonie, thank you for the extremely quick response.


So I checked and do not have any exact duplicate keywords. I have a few that are similar, (i.e., Disney World 2018 vs. Disney World 2007) but no exact duplicates.


Your keyword search suggestion is fine, but what about searching on the existing metadata already there. I don't currently have a keyword for just 'Disney World'. I would like to be able to search or create a smart album that keys off of location (e.g., Epcot) since all of the location information is accurate. Again, this works for current pictures, but not for ones taken back in 2007. Same thing goes for faces/people.


Seems like just a glitch in the search functionality...

Mar 16, 2018 5:41 AM

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Mar 16, 2018 7:09 AM in response to hildebr287 In response to hildebr287

To search for locations you are supposed to use the Places album and click on the map and zoom in on the location. That will show all photos taken in the vicinity.



There is no constraint "Place is ..." for the smart album. You can try to search with "Text contains", but that would give erratic results, because the places names are generated by searching the GPS coordinates in Apple's location database. Slight variations in the GPS position can result in different places names. You will get better results, if you add the places name you want to use to the title or the description of a photo.

When I zoom in on the Map I can find the photos taken at Disneyland Park, but not by typing in the location name into the search field.

The search will find the photo however, when I search for "sleeping beauty castle", because I added that text to the title. But the search does not find "Disneyland Park", even if the Mac is showing this.


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Mar 16, 2018 7:09 AM

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Mar 16, 2018 8:42 AM in response to léonie In response to léonie

Yes, and I have tried the places album. Unfortunately, it also does not seem to be picking up these pictures.


As a test, I went into the info portion of a pictures from both 2007 and 2018 and edited the location to use the exact same place from the search once you start to type in a place. Both pictures have the pin placed in the exact same spot and the description is the same. However, when I go to search, only the one from 2018 shows up.

Mar 16, 2018 8:42 AM

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Mar 16, 2018 8:59 AM in response to hildebr287 In response to hildebr287

Yes, and I have tried the places album. Unfortunately, it also does not seem to be picking up these pictures.


The scan for faces and places and categories may not yet be complete after the High Sierra upgrade. Are you using iCloud Photo Library?


Do you have "Summarize Photos" enabled in the Photos > Preferences > General? Then not all photos may be showing when using the Photos View.

Mar 16, 2018 8:59 AM

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Mar 16, 2018 9:12 AM in response to léonie In response to léonie

If I go under the 'People' section, it doesn't indicate at the bottom of the page that the system is still searching through pictures for faces. I've saw that message before when I first got the computer and did the conversion.


I'm not entirely sure if I have 'summarize photos' enabled (I'm not at my desk at home) but I can say that the photos (the 2007 versions) are definitely in the Photos View.


So I can see the Photos in Photos View, all the metadata that I want to search on appears to be populated properly, but again, smart albums and the search don't appear to work.

Mar 16, 2018 9:12 AM

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Mar 16, 2018 9:26 AM in response to hildebr287 In response to hildebr287

Several users reported that the search is broken on macOS 10.13.x, when using the search field. I am hoping, that we will soon see a bug fix.

But I find it surprising, that the Places album does not show all photos and that the smart albums do not show all matching photos either. These search methods are working for me well in High Sierra and others reported as well, that smart albums can be used as a work-around.

You may want to test with a new library, if searching by the location is working better in a new library,

Mar 16, 2018 9:26 AM

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Mar 16, 2018 10:07 AM in response to hildebr287 In response to hildebr287

See this article Photos for macOS Sierra: What are albums?

Smart Albums: These albums gather and display photos automatically based on criteria you specify. For example, you could create a Smart Album and set it to include any photos taken in 2014 that are also a favorite; Photos then adds photos that meet those criteria to your Smart Album. Whenever you import new photos, Photos continues to add the ones that meet the criteria to your Smart Album.

And read this also Create Smart Albums to group photos automatically in Photos on Mac - Apple Support

Mar 16, 2018 10:07 AM

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Mar 17, 2018 9:34 AM in response to léonie In response to léonie

Leonie, I did some more digging and it appears that the photos are in the places album. They somehow got tagged to a slightly different location within Epcot that wasn’t being picked up in either the search or smart album, even though the location said ‘Epcot’. Thanks again!


Any tips on better organizing / labeling this metadata?

Mar 17, 2018 9:34 AM

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Mar 17, 2018 10:57 AM in response to hildebr287 In response to hildebr287

Leonie, I did some more digging and it appears that the photos are in the places album.

That is reassuring! Then the Places albums works.


They somehow got tagged to a slightly different location within Epcot that wasn’t being picked up in either the search or smart album, even though the location said ‘Epcot’. Thanks again!

That is what is making searching for places so difficult. We cannot define our own places, like we cold in Aperture or iPhoto. There we could name a place and define a radius fro the distance to the center of the place. In Photos we have to make do with the predefined places names, and there is no list, where we could look up, what the places are, that Photos knows about. I would assign keywords with the name of the place to all photos taken at a place that is important to you.

Mar 17, 2018 10:57 AM

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Question: Photos Missing from Search and Smart Album Results