November 10th 2007 - Big Update!

I just spent the entire evening writing an updated review/tutorial. If your set on using iPhoto, then continue scrolling down, but if you want learn an easier way to write EXIF data photos in the future then, click here.


While the following is intended to help anyone looking to write EXIF data (specificly comment and keyword data) from iPhoto, it may also be of use to those seeking to compress photos in Image Ready without loosing EXIF data. I encourage anyone who doesn't understand the previous sentence to skip this entry as it may induce boredom, confusion, nausea, etc.


Well I just spent close to 24 hours reinventing the way I will manage my photos. It was my joining Flikr that started the whole ordeal... basically, I just wanted to tag my photos. I quickly realized it would be waste of time to only tag online photos so I went about tagging them all in iPhoto. It turns out this was no where near as easy as it sounds.

My Stuff:

-Mac Powerbook G4
-Pentax Optio WP

Software Used
-iPhoto 6.0
-Graphic Converter
-Image Ready

Scripts Used
-ExifTool 6.06
-Set Exif Data

The Old System

After receiving my first mac two years ago I came up with a pretty logical approach to storing my photos. It goes something like this:

1. Import photos into iPhoto
-Delete and Enhance
2. Export edited photo album into a folder
3. Use R-Name to rename photos in the following format YYMMDD-Pic#-AlbumTitle
4. Use Image Ready to reduce batch to JPG Quality 10 (I rarely print my photos and I can't see the difference on the screen)
5. Save both Original and Low Quality batches to external hard drive as backup
6. Delete original photos from iPhoto and import the new Low Quality folder

The Problem

While this system may seem tedious at first, I could do it all in about 5 after the editing and tagging process. It was the desire to add tags to photos that brought my current system to its' knees. Here is what I learned:


1. iPhoto reads limited EXIF Data (I didn't even know this abbreviation 24 hours ago!) and wont write any EXIF Data
2. iPhoto comments and keywords are stored separately from photos (should anything ever happen to your iPhoto library, be prepared to say goodbye to literally weeks spent tagging and commenting on photos)

Hence, exporting photos from iPhoto retains none of the comments or keywords. Pissed, I took a minute to send iPhoto some feed back and then the search began... for some kind of script or program that could write my iPhoto keywords as EXIF data. I'm still astonished I wasn't able to find anything less complex. I ended up having to download a script that would trigger the ExifTool command line (if that's what it's called) to assign iPhoto keywords to EXIF Data. While I would consider myself fairly advanced at using Macs I'm absolutely and completely lost when it comes to using Terminal.

The first obstacle I hit when running the script was that it couldn't call ExifTool. It took me a while to figure out where it was being called and the fact I had to show the script the path to the command. Once I figured this out the script worked flawlessly but of course I could not actually see if the keywords were being inserted because iPhoto doest display that particular EXIF data. So, through some research and plenty of trail and error I eventually figured out how to pull up a JEPG's EXIF data in terminal using ExifTool. Here I could see the script had actually worked.

As I played around with the script I noticed that each time I ran it on the same photo my list of tags for the photo grew exponentially. So I managed to figure out how to overwrite tags rather than append to them. I made a number of additional changes to the script too:

-Inserted my Copy Right and URL information into the Script
-Made iPhoto comments write to both comments and Description EXIF fields (Flikr uses Description EXIF data not Comments)
-Made iPhoto keywords write to EXIF KeyWord field and append to EXIF comment field (because most of my other programs can only read the comments section)

Excited that I had managed to learn how to do all this in the last 24 hours, I went about tagging and exporting a bunch of photo albums. Then another obstacle presented itself...

Image Ready and EXIF Data

When optimizing a photo in Image Ready it strips the JPEG of tones of EXIF data. I did comparisons between between an original photo taken right off my Pentax, an image exported from iPhoto and an image optimized in Image Ready. (A-Original-EXIF / B-iPhoto-EXIF / C-ImageReady-EXIF / D-GraphicConverter-EXIF ) Both the original and iPhoto images retained all EXIF data while Image Ready had significantly less. While it retained keyword and description data I wanted the comment data as well. (However, now I'm begging to question why I feel the comment data is important... I have the exact same data in the Keyword and Description fields.... hmmm.... nonetheless, you lose too much potentially valuable data)

Believing there was some kind of fix in Image Ready for this, I went out to research yet again. Finding nothing, I gave up decided to see if there were other applications that could compress without stripping EXIF. The packaged ACDSee software that came with my Pentax was garbage so I went about using that mysterious Graphic Converter application that came bundled with my Mac. And this was my saving grace! Not only did an image compressed to 50% look great and take up a 1/20th the original space but it retained all EXIF data (after choosing these settings in preferences).

So here's the new process should anyone be looking to do the same thing:
1. Import, Edit, Tag and Comment in iPhoto
2. Run EXIF script to write new info
3. Export photos to folder
4. Batch rename and compress images
5. Save originals and low quality images on external drive
6. Import low quality images back into iphoto

I hope this was helpful to someone. Should you have any questions don't hesitate to ask though I basically divulged all my knowledge on he subject here. Good Luck

November 10th 2007 - Big Update!

I just spent the entire evening writing an updated review/tutorial. If your set on using iPhoto, then continue scrolling down, but if you want learn an easier way to write EXIF data photos in the future then, click here.

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