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Troubleshoot familiar face detection

If you have a Nest Aware subscription and have enabled familiar face detection for your Google Nest camera or Google Nest video doorbell, but it isn’t working correctly, use this article to try and fix the issue.

You can learn more about how familiar face detection works and change settings in our Help Center.

Your camera identified someone incorrectly

Things your camera might misidentify

Nest camera events are designed to be as accurate as possible, but your camera or doorbell may misidentify certain things. Here are some examples:

  • Your camera confuses a picture with a real event. For example, a t-shirt with a picture of a dog on it might trigger an animal detection event.
  • Your camera mistakes a person crawling on the ground as a pet.
  • Your camera has trouble distinguishing between close relatives.

In the following scenarios, try to tweak your camera’s view away from these objects to avoid false person or face alerts.

  • If there’s a mirror, your camera might mistake a person and their reflection as two people.
  • If there’s a TV, your camera might confuse someone on the screen as an actual person inside your home.

 Remove incorrect snapshots from a face profile

If your camera identified someone incorrectly, you should remove incorrect snapshots in the face profile as soon as possible. This will reduce the chance of that person being misidentified again.

Home app

To delete photos:

  1. Open the Google Home app .
  2. Tap Settings  And then Nest Aware And then Familiar face detection.
  3. Select a face profile with photos that you want to delete.
  4. Tap Edit Pencil icon / edit icon, then select any photos that you want to delete together.
  5. Tap Delete .
  6. Confirm that you want to remove the selected photos.

To move photos to the correct face profile:

  1. Open the Google Home app .
  2. Tap Settings  And then Nest Aware And then Familiar face detection.
  3. Select a face profile with photos that you want to move.
  4. Tap Edit Pencil icon / edit icon, then select any photos that you want to move together.
  5. Tap Move .
  6. Search and select a person saved in the familiar face library, or type in a new name to save the photos in a new face profile.
  7. Tap Yes to confirm your choice.

Nest app

  1. Open the Nest app Nest app.
  2. tap Settings Nest settings icon.
  3. Tap Familiar faces.
  4. Tap the face profile you want to review.
  5. You’ll see a grid of snapshots.
    • For Android, tap any incorrect ones to highlight them.
    • For iOS, tap Select, then tap any incorrect ones.

Tap Delete nest cam trash clip   to remove those snapshots.

Your camera created a new profile for a saved face

Sometimes your camera may misidentify a familiar face as a new face and create another profile of the same person. To fix this, merge the profiles.


Home app

  1. Open the Google Home app .
  2. Tap Settings and then Nest Aware and then Familiar face detection.
  3. Start edit mode (two different ways):
    • At the top right corner of the screen, tap Edit. Then, select the faces you want to merge.
    • To select the first face in edit mode, touch and hold a face on the screen. Then, tap the other face you want to merge. Both faces are selected when you do this.
  4. At the top right corner of the screen, tap Merge .

Nest app

  1. Open the Nest app Nest app.
  2. Tap Settings Nest settings icon and then Familiar faces.
  3. Tap Select and then tap the duplicate profile that you want to combine.
  4. If there are many duplicate profiles, tap the others as well and thenMerge .

A familiar face has a missing or incorrect name

If a face profile was saved without a name, or if it was somehow given the wrong name, you can easily add or change their name in the familiar face library. 

Note: When you add or change a name of a person in the familiar face library in the Home app or Nest app, the change is also reflected in the other app.

Home app

  1. Open the Google Home app .
  2. Tap Settings and then Nest Aware and then Familiar face detection
  3. To add or change the name, tap a face and enter a new name.

Nest app

  1. Open the Nest app Nest app.
  2. Tap Settings Nest settings iconand then Familiar faces.
  3. Tap on the familiar face profile you want to name.
  4. Tap Name.
  5. Give the person a new name. You can use their actual name or enter a description like “mail carrier.”

Familiar faces were deleted

If your familiar faces library is missing, your Nest Aware subscription may have expired or you turned familiar faces off for all your cameras. Check the status of your subscription and make sure it's active.

Your camera is detecting people but not faces

 First, make sure that familiar face detection is on for your camera.

Note: If you have more than one Nest camera, you’ll need to turn familiar face detection on for each camera individually.

If that isn’t the issue, make sure your camera is placed where it can get a clear shot of the area you want to monitor. This will help your camera tell the difference between faces.

Tips to help your camera detect faces better

  • Position your camera so it can see faces easily. Familiar face detection works best when the subject is directly approaching the camera. 
    • Place your camera roughly 6-8ft (183-244cm) above ground and place your doorbell about 4ft (122cm) above ground.
    • Place the camera where people would naturally walk towards it, such as facing a path or down a driveway. 
    • For best results, the camera should be placed within 10ft of where people will walk towards it.
  • Check the lighting around your camera. Check your camera’s view at different times during the day to make sure that there’s no glare from the sun or other light sources.
  • Review your familiar faces library on a regular basis during the first few weeks, especially after you add a new person. Promptly fix any face recognition mistakes.

Notifications aren't working

Important: Before you change notification settings it’s important to understand how they work. Here are a few key points about familiar face notifications:

  • When your camera spots a familiar face, the event includes the name (if any) you assigned to the person.
  • When your camera spots an unfamiliar face, it will send an unfamiliar face alert.
  • If your camera spots a familiar face and an unfamiliar face at the same time, it will send an alert about the unfamiliar face.
  • If your camera’s not sure whether it recognizes a face, it will send a person alert instead of a familiar face alert.
  • You might get different alerts for the same person if you have more than one camera and their settings are different.
To learn more about how notifications work for Nest cameras and get instructions on how to change their settings, go to our camera alerts  article.

You can't change settings or the face library

If you can’t manage your camera’s familiar face detection settings or your home’s familiar face library, it could be caused by the following:

  • Your home is in an area where familiar face detection feature isn’t available.1
  • You’ve entered your date of birth into your Google account and are under the age of 13 in the US (or the applicable age in your country).
If you incorrectly entered your date of birth into your Google Account, you learn how to verify your age and re-enable your Google Account in the Google Accounts help center.

(1) Nest’s familiar face detection feature is not available on Nest cameras used in Illinois. Certain state legislation may affect Illinois customers’ use of the feature, so we’ve disabled it as a precaution. If the home where you’re using your camera is in Illinois, you shouldn’t be able to turn on familiar face detection in the Nest app.

Use familiar face detection in compliance with the law. Depending on where you live, you might need to get consent to have your camera help identify people visiting your home.

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