macOS: Search Photos on macOS for Whatever You’re Looking For

search photos on macOS

Some of us take tons and tons of photos. This means we have plenty of visual memories, but it can also mean a real headache when we want to find a particular picture. I’d noticed the search bar in Photos for macOS, but figured all it did was search titles and descriptions. But Apple added powerful machine learning to Photos in macOS Sierra that lets you search for keywords and attributes.

search photos on macOS
If you take tons of pictures, you’d probably like to know how you can search Photos on macOS (Image Credit: 3dman_eu)

How Can I Search Photos on macOS?

To start searching in the Photos app, just click in the search bar in the top right corner of the app and start typing. If you want to find pictures of your dog, for example, just type “dog.”

Photos on macOS, identifying the search bar
To search photos on macOS, start in the search bar

Below what you’re typing, potential categories will appear. You can click one of them to go to that selection of photos.

Search photos on macOS
Begin typing what you want to search for

Here’s what Photos found when I searched for pictures of dogs. I certainly have more pictures than this of my dog, but it’s amazing that the app is able to identify any of them at all. Bear in mind, Photos will search file names, but none of these images have “dog” in the file name. Photos figured it out all on its own.

The search results when I search Photos on macOS for "Dog"
The search results when I search Photos on macOS for “Dog”

What Else Can I Search For?

In addition to searching for categories of pictures, you can also search for particular faces, places, and other things. You can use quite a few different search terms, but I’ve found that items, descriptions, objects, places, and people are the best terms to use. The app is much smarter than you might think, so play around with it and see what you can find. The one “gotcha” here is that Photos only searches within your photo library; it won’t find images that are saved elsewhere on your Mac. This also won’t work in a Spotlight search; the feature is limited to use within the Photos app itself.

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