HOW TO: Enable Google Photos’ New People Naming And Merge Features

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Yesterday Google started rolling out an updated version of their Google Photos app with a few new features including Chromecast support, sharing to WhatsApp, and some bug fixes. One of the biggest new features expands on the “Group Similar Faces” function that was introduced back in May. In Search, you can now label and merge people groupings for easier and more precise searching. The problem is, it’s currently only available in the U.S.. But don’t fret, similar to when the “Group Similar Faces” function was first introduced, we’ve got a workaround for you on how you can enable the feature if you don’t live stateside.

The workaround is rather easy, all you need is a VPN client on your mobile phone.

  1. Connect with a VPN (TunnelBear seems to be popular, I use Private Internet Access) to a U.S. based server.
  2. Open the updated Photos app (you should be on version or higher) – I installed it before connecting to the VPN.
  3. Click on the search button.
  4. Under the People section, you’ll have a tile grid of grouped people (if you have this feature turned on).
  5. Click on the person you want to label, and in the next screen click on the “Who is this?” link to add a private label to search by name.
  6. Disconnect VPN. You won’t need it again to use the feature, it was only needed to turn it on.

Once the “Who is this?” link shows up, you’re good to go! Once you start labelling groups, you can merge two groups if you give them the same name.


I used first and last name for my groupings, for example Bob Smith or June Franklin, and when doing a search based on first name alone, for example “Bob and June,” the search results showed only images of Bob and June. It’s pretty slick!

Let us know if this workaround worked for you in the comments below, or on Google+, Twitter, or Facebook.

Last Updated on November 27, 2018.


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