Why “people tags”?

We’ve always had keyword (descriptive) tagging in Photo Gallery. Heck, we’ve had it in Microsoft photo products since Windows XP. So why add a whole new type of tag to Windows Live Photo Gallery? Because people take lots of pictures of people. Think about the photos that are most special to you. Let me guess— they have people in them, right? So it makes sense for the software you use to organize your photos to help you focus on the people in them. That’s what people tags are all about.

In the beta version, you can see that once you sign in to Windows Live, we add your contacts to the navigation tree. When you click a contact, you see all the photos you’ve tagged of that person, as well as links to photos they’re sharing with you.

people banner

But your contact list is just a start. Someone doesn’t have to be a Messenger or Hotmail contact for you to tag them. You can tag anyone. Just click the Add a new person link, or type in a new name when you’re tagging.

If there’s a face in your photo, Photo Gallery automatically finds it, which makes tagging people faster and easier. From the gallery view, you can see how many untagged people are in your photos, and follow the link to tag them. Photo Gallery can’t find every face, so you can always click Add people tag to add tags yourself.

There are a few ways to add people tags to photos. In gallery mode, you can bulk add by selecting several photos and dragging them to the person you want to tag in the navigation tree. When viewing a single photo, you can apply an individual tag to each found person by clicking the identify link in the info pane. You can also click the face of the person you want to tag.


What’s unique thing about the Photo Gallery tagging system is that, like keywords, people tags are written to the file. So if you copy the photo to another computer or back up all your photos, your tags stay with the file. Because the people tags are attached to your photos, the people you share them with will be able to see your people tags. Of course, we also want to make sure you stay in control of your data, so we’ve added some new settings to let you manage the metadata you publish on photo-sharing sites.

For the developers out there, the people tags are written out as XMP and, yes, you can read them. I expect folks writing publish plug-ins to take advantage of this.

— John Thornton, Program Manager

Comments (20)

  1. mollyfud says:

    Love the People tagging. Any chance it could learn faces and auto tag the photos? Also would love to see you update your Flickr publisher to allow the People Tags to be used as Tags in Flickr and/or have an option to have the People Tags turned into Keyword tags.



  2. easson says:

    I have probably 90% of my photos that have people in them already tagged using PhotoShop, just using "regular" (non-people) tags.  So, suppose I want to start using your special people tags, and I don’t want to re-do all that work.  How can I do this?

  3. jaxim says:

    It would be nice if you could group the people tags into groups, which I currently do with the non-people tags.

    For example:

    Before this version, I placed my people tags into subcategories. "People/Family/Smiths/Kelly Smith"

    "People/Friends/Jones/Jeffrey Jones"

    It would be nice if you could do this with the new people tag.

    Here are a few other suggestions for the new people tags:

    1) Allow the ability to know the relationships of people. For example, "Kelly Smith" is the grandmother of "Sally Franklin".

    2) Be able to easily do a search for "Kelly Smith" AND "Sally Franklin", but NOT "Jeffrey Jones"

    3) If the software doesn’t detect a face but there is one, allow the user to draw a rectangle where the face is. Actually this would be useful for other tags and general comments: i.e. the way Flickr does it

  4. abruenin says:

    People tagging is great. But the people should also be written into the IPTC people fields for interoperability.

  5. johnthor says:


    Face detection is an interesting feature idea and we appreciate the suggestion.  Regarding using People tags as tags on Flickr – this could be done using our new extensible publish framework and the Flickr API’s.


    We know this is a pain point and I appreciate you calling it out.  In the beta there is a way to do this but it’s pretty manual.  You can click on the descriptive tag, select all the photos and drag and drop them to the correct person tag.  While this works, I know it’s not the feature you’re asking for.  I’ll log a bug on this.


    Regarding grouping tags.  The tags can be grouped in messenger categories.  Currently the only way to make categories and move folks around is inside of messenger.   It’s a known issue and I have a bug tracking this.

    Regarding 1 & 2 – great suggestions.  Thanks for the thoughts.  Regarding #3 – the beta already has this.  In the info pane click “Add people tag” and you will be in manual mode.

    Thank you all for using the beta and supplying feedback.

    -John Thornton (Windows Live Program Manager)

  6. exilis says:

    I’m not sure about the way messenger categories are used.  From my quick playing around it seems to be all or nothing.  What I’d like to be able to do, is tag my pictures (using normal names rather than their messenger names) and attach that to specific messenger contacts, without them all being listed.  Out of everyone on my messenger list, I am only likely to want to tag a very small fraction so more flexibility here would be much appreciated.

  7. bthoem says:

    Fully support "jaxim" on this topic:

    – Hierarchical name tags (+ ability to convert/ inherit already built such)

    – Relationships

    – Ability to manually identify/ "draw" a face when WLPG misses.

    Bjørn Tore

  8. vasudev says:

    @bthoem, you do have ability to add a people tag manually, draw a square when WLPG misses by clicking on ‘Add People tag’ (Info menu)

  9. coldacid says:

    Like exilis, I want to see the real names of people, not their Live Messenger names (and the ability to say that so-and-so is actually named so-and-so if their name isn’t actually set on their profile).

    As well, I want to see my actual name rather than "chris" for photos with me in them. I don’t know why it’s using the name part of my e-mail address (or a lower-case version of my user account on the computer, whichever), but it doesn’t seem right at all.

    Also, I gotta support jaxim’s hierarchical name tagging. Live Messenger’s grouping is minimal at best, and I know a lot of people who don’t use Live Messenger, more than a few of which don’t even have an email address. Simply relying on Live Messenger’s categories is pretty poor for those of us in this situation.

    Lastly, I’d love to be able to have names split into given and family names. I’m so used to looking through lists of names by surname that I read "First Last" lists still thinking it’s sorted by surname rather than given name. It’s not that important, but it would certainly help.

  10. humanzz says:

    People tags is a great feature however I’d like to know more details about how the tags are written:

    * When a WL Contact is chosen as a tag, what is written exactly? (first name, last name) or nickname or what exactly?

    * My own tag. If I’m not signed in, it shows (first last names) but if I’m signed in it shows – I’m not really sure because they’re the same – my display name or the email part preceeding the @sign.

    I’d also like to be able to change a people tag that was created manually to a WL Contact tag if I get to add that person.

  11. coldacid says:

    @humanzz It seems to automatically change people tags if you add someone to your WL Contact list with the same name as a person you’ve tagged that isn’t associated with anything in said list.

    I went and added to Live Contacts a number of people from my Toastmasters club, even though they don’t use Live Messenger (or any IM program) and Live Photo Gallery mapped the people tags for them from the "Other People" group to the group I made for Toastmasters. So as long as you don’t know multiple people with the same name, it should work automatically.

  12. coldacid says:

    I just tagged a random pic as me, and logged out of Live, to find that what you see between the parentheses is what you get on pictures. Where it got "chris" for me rather than "Chris" or "Chris Charabaruk" or "coldacid" I don’t know, and I’d love to be able to change it and have WLPG automatically adopt the pics I’ve tagged with my actual name the way it has for other people I’ve added to Live Contacts.

  13. SeanMcLeod says:

    Any reason that the new People tags aren’t indexed by Windows Search? I’ve been using the regular tags for tagging people and locations and often make use of Windows Search for finding/filtering photos outside of Live Photo Gallery.

    For others interested in the actual XMP meta-data that is bein stored for the new People tags including the rectangular regions of the faces take a look at the following blog entry.



  14. consumer4beta@hotmail.com says:

    Somehow the apps don’t feel like part of the OS. The removed icons with a supposed-to-be-clean-streamlined-but-ended-up-being-bland look isn’t nice.

  15. jesusbl@hotmail.com says:

    support file formats jpg-xr hd-photo or windows media photo and svg

    – change color skin

  16. Swiiney says:


      great idea to add photo tagging. But some features are missing for me:

       – auto-tagging: not easy but automatically recognize a specific person in a picture based on previous manual recognition could be really great.

       – use people tagging to configure the screensaver. I have used normal tagging to put people in it in previous version. So I am able to show only pictures containing my children or maybe some specific friends. If I transfer all the people tags from regular to the new field, I would like to be able to do the filtering also.


  17. bthoem says:

    Seems like no other programs, including Picasa 3 and Xnview, can read the People tags introduced in WLPG beta.

  18. softpen says:

    I would like to use same tag multiple times in a picture. Likely there wouldn’t be same person multiple times in a given picture but for tagging and organizing purposes.


    An ability to group multiple tags into one – particularly useful when you do not know who they are and they only appear once or twice in 20,000 pictures.





    and so on.

    On another note, my picture folder is on a network shared folder.

    Everytime I open photo gallery from diff computer, it begins to process again and again. Is there any way to prevent duplicate scanning and updating ?

  19. Matthew says:

    This is cool, still wrapping my head around the possabilities. Are you planning to add facial recognition (or at least suggestion). So that after I add a few images of "Mary" new photos of Mary will be recognized?

    Can you post on how we can search for these photos outside of WLPG? I have been looking at the metadata and can’t figure out how to get Vista to use PersonDisplayName:Mary to surface her images.

  20. GaryJS says:

    This is a great step! I’ll hold off tagging my thousands of photos until you boffins manage to learn faces and auto tag them.. Surely it’s got to come? This would be a killer feature!!

    I also hope that I can categorise the people (family / friends) etc…