How to turn off unwanted ‘memories’ in Apple Photos, Google Photos, and Facebook

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Apple, Facebook, and Google have constructed memory machines to remind us of our best memories, but like any algorithmic creation, they can produce substandard results. Instead of bringing up memories of moments when we felt like we were living our best lives, they can bring up memories of the low points of our life — a lousy job, a bad commute, a bad breakup, or the death of a loved one.

Apple Photos, Facebook Photos, and Google Photos all have settings for controlling what their “memories” functions can send you. However, these controls over which photographs and posts are algorithmically bubbled up to your screen aren’t always obvious — even after these applications have delivered a gut-punch of a reminder.

Here’s how you can influence, at least in part, which memories appear in each of these apps.

APPLE PHOTOS

If you’re using iOS 14, Apple’s implementation of the Memories function gives you less control than the other two firms’ implementations. That should change after you upgrade to iOS 15 later this year.

ON AN IOS 14 DEVICE: 

1 If Photos shows you a memory you’d rather not remember, long-press the video or photo, then tap the “Suggest Fewer Memories Like This” button underneath the photo… Then hope for the best, because the Memories feature in iOS 14 does not allow you to remove certain people or dates.

2 You can also reach the same menu by going to the “For You” area of Photos (at the bottom of your screen), finding the photo or video you want to skip, and long-pressing it.

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3Open the Settings app, go to “Notifications” > “Photos” > “Memories,” and turn off “Allow Notifications” to block Photos from notifying you of new Memories.

4 Pictures from your Featured Photos memory collection may appear in the Photos widget on your iPhone’s home screen if you’ve added it. Tap and hold it until a menu opens, then scroll down and tap “Remove from Featured Photos.”

ON AN IOS 15 DEVICE.

In the future iOS 15 operating system, you can choose to have a specific individual appear in Memories less frequently or to eliminate them entirely:

1 Tap the Albums button at the bottom of the screen in the Photos app, then People (under “People & Places”). Choose the individual whose memories you’d like to alter.

2Press the three dots in the upper right corner. You’ll see a pop-up menu that enables you to do things like reducing the prominence of that individual or delete them totally from the “People” list.

3 If you touch on “Feature This Person Less,” you’ll be given the option of having that person appear in Memories less frequently or never at all.

4 If you tap “Remove This Person from People,” you’ll be prompted to reset the people album, which will remove all names and favorites from all of your iCloud-connected devices.

ON A MAC

1 To get fewer similar reminders, right-click on the photo and select “Suggest Fewer Memories Like This.”

2 To stop the operating system from telling you when new Memories are created, go to the Photos menu in the top left corner of the screen, select “Preferences…”, and uncheck the box next to “Show Memories Notification” under the “General” tab. If holiday photos irritate you, you can alternatively uncheck the box that says “Show Holiday Events.”

FACEBOOK

After introducing its nostalgia inducer as “On This Day” in 2015, the social network needed a few months to add the ability to filter out people or dates. Since then, the technology has evolved and is currently known as Memories.

To modify your preferences, you can use either the online app or the mobile app.

THE WEBSITE APPLICATION

1 In the left-hand column, click on “Memories” (you may need to click on “See More” to discover it).

2 On the left, select “Hide People” or “Hide Dates.”

MOBILE APP

1Tap the menu icon in the top right corner (Android) or the bottom right corner (iOS) (iOS).

2 Then tap “Memories,” followed by the gear icon.

3 Select “People” or “Dates” from the “Hide Memories” menu.

You may now write in the names of any persons or dates you don’t want in your Memories, whether you’re on a mobile device or a desktop computer. When typing in a name, keep in mind that you may get public pages or profiles of random people before getting the names of friends – at least, that was my experience.

You can’t delete postings from other individuals who have tagged you in them from Memories. (Facebook, consider this paragraph a feature request.)

You can also control how often Facebook alerts you of new Memories using the Memories settings screens: once a day at most, algorithmically chosen highlights, or never.

GOOGLE PHOTOS

In 2019, Google launched the Memories feature to Google Photos, which allows you to hide individuals (and pets) or dates from notifications of past events that appear in its mobile apps. Because it doesn’t send notifications to your screen, the Photos web app doesn’t have those options.

1 Tap the account profile picture in the top right corner of the Google Photos mobile app.

2 On Android, tap “Photos settings” or “Google Photos Settings” (on Apple devices).

3 Select “Memories.”

4 To remove a person or a pet from these flashbacks, tap “Hide humans & pets.” If you’ve already given names to the faces that Google Photos identifies and categorizes, this will be much easier. Even if Google Photos misses a photo of someone for example, if it was taken at an unusual angle or in bad lighting — it can still be found in Memories.

5 The “Hide dates” tool (also found on the “Memories” tab) is significantly more straightforward. Select the day or days you want to be hidden by tapping “Hide Dates.”

To stop Google Photos from notifying you about any or all Memories, follow these steps:

1 On the Memories page, click the “Notifications” link.

2 Look for the “Memories” section on the next page. You can turn off Google Photos from reminding you of on-this-day recollections from prior years or “Themed memories” (like the “They grow up so fast” compilations of photographs of my kid that it knows to push while I’m away from home on business).

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