In an age of Google email data mining, "phishing" scams, and sleazy social networks such as Facebook, one can never be too careful with personal data. And as Richard Snowden has proved to the world: just because you are paranoid, doesn’t mean the NSA aren’t after you.
This brings us to a topic of a similar nature involving a "feature" added to Apple’s Mavericks iPhoto application: automatic facial recognition. I discovered this "feature" after I recently upgraded to OS X Mavericks, and created a bootable install image. Exploring new features, I was delighted to find most of the applications and OS features had improved — that is until I ran across facial recognition in iPhoto.
Besides the utility of slowing iPhoto to a crawl, facial recognition didn’t really seem to be that useful of a feature anyway, so I resolved to stop the facial scanning and eliminate the face repository. If this "improvement" to iPhoto bothers you as much as it does me, use the following steps to kick iPhoto’s creepy Big Brother off of your Mac OS X system.
First, be sure to Quit iPhoto if it is running. This is critically important, because we will be doing things that iPhoto will not like if left open. This includes removing all databases with scanned face information. So if you wish to stop facial recognition, but keep the facial recognition database, run only the first and very last command in the listing below.
Next, open Finder. Select the Pictures folder, and control-click iPhoto Library. Select the Open With option and choose Terminal.app.
NOTE: If Terminal.app does not appear in this list, it can be found in the Applications/Utilities folder.
Here is a screenshot of my Finder window in action:
With the Terminal window open, type these commands at each $ prompt:
$ defaults write com.apple.iPhoto PKFaceDetectionEnabled 0
$ cd ./Database/Faces/Detected
$ rm *.apdetected
$ cd ../../apdb
$ rm Faces.db
$ rm BigBlobs.apdb
(The ls commands show the contents of each directory, so you may omit those.)
You may now open iPhoto again — this time it will not scan your personal photos for faces to insert into a database. Enjoy!
Disclaimer: I am not associated or employed by any company producing software or hardware reviewed on this site.