Find That Photo

It is said that “the best camera is the one you have with you.” These days we carry our smart phones, with their amazing cameras, with us most of the time. It’s so easy to snap a picture anywhere, at any time, that we end up with a huge number of photos on our phones.

Have you ever struggled to find a particular photo that you just know is there? There is an easy way to find almost any picture in your photo library.

Photo Search

The Photos app has a built-in search feature that makes it very easy to find photos from a specific date, at a certain place, with people you know, and even those that contain certain objects or scenes. The results might surprise you.

To use the search feature, start the Photos app and tap the Search button at the bottom of the screen:

You will see a screen with a search box at the top, and then some categories of searches such as Moments, People, Places, Categories, etc. To see the photos in one of the categories, just tap it.

To search for something specific, type it into the search box. When you do, you’ll see a list of suggested search terms that are similar to what you typed, followed by the photos that match your search and then some other groups of related photos.


To find photos from a specific date, just type the date into the search box. You can use the numeric date or the longer text version:

You can also just type a month name to see all photos from that month regardless of year, or type just a year. You can use words to express a date such as last week or last Friday, and you can even type a season, such as summer.


Since photos are tagged with their location, it’s easy to search for the name of a place. Here again, you can be very specific or quite broad in your search. For example, you can search for all the photos taken in a certain state, such as Indiana, or those in a city, say Oslo:

… or a specific country:

You can also use the name for well-known places:

You can search for a street name, body of water, and even a well-publicized event you attended, such as a concert.

Objects & Things

The Photos app can do some pretty amazing things when you’re looking for a specific object or subject. It uses advanced photo recognition techniques to identify items in your photos and then allows you to search for them.

For example, you could search for animals, such as a bird:

..or an object, say a boat:

You can even snap pictures of particularly good bottles of wine you want to remember, and then search for wine bottle:

The Photos app can find thousands of different items: water, ocean, mountains, food, cars, and so many more. It’s not always perfect, but I think you’ll be amazed and what it can find.

Combining Searches

You can combine several different search terms to get very specific about what you’re looking for. To do this, type the first term and then tap it in the list, followed by each additional search term. For example, to search for boats from a trip to Florida in 2018, start by typing Florida into the search box, then tap Florida in the list that pops up:

Next, type 2018 in the search box, and tap 2018 in the list:

Finally, type Boat in the search box and tap Boat in the list:

You now see only the photos that were taken in Florida, in 2018, and that contain a boat.


As you take pictures, the Photos app looks for faces and groups those together that it believes are the same person, but it doesn’t know who they are. You can name these people and then search using that name.

To start, in the Photos app tap the Albums button at the bottom of the screen, and then scroll down until you see a section called People & Places, then tap the People album.

In this album you will see thumbnails for different faces. Tap each one and then tap Add Name at the top of the screen. Once you’ve named someone you’ll be able to search for them in the same way I discuss above.

Note: The names you assign are private to you and are not shared with Apple or anyone else.

Apple has a good tutorial here that gives more details about how to set this up and how to add more people to your album.

Never Lose a Photo

I hope these tips help you find those elusive vacation photos or even that awesome bottle of wine you enjoyed years ago. As always, let me know if you have questions.


If you find these articles useful and know of others that might as well, use the buttons below to share this article using social media or email.


Apple’s Photos Support Page

Apple’s “People in Photos” Page

Cover photo by from Pexels

9 thoughts on “Find That Photo

Add yours

    1. I remove blurry and duplicates, but otherwise keep them all on my phone. I use ‘iCloud Photos’ with the ‘Optimize Storage’ option, which keeps very small versions on the phone and then downloads the full photo when needed. This way I don’t fill up my phone’s storage. I do pay Apple 0.99 a month for extra iCloud storage space.


      1. If you go into Settings -> Photos and make sure “Optimize iPhone Storage” is turned on. This will help make sure that your iPhone (or iPad) will only keep smaller versions to save space (it will download on-demand when you want to view a photo). It won’t help with iCloud storage, since that is where the full-sized photos are kept. Let me know if I’m not explaining this well.

        Liked by 1 person

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