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I've scanned the almost-six-hundred photos in my Dad's family photo albums, but now I need to enter the notes he wrote next to each image, listing people, locations, (approximate) dates, and other information.

I'm sure I can do this with any decent photo organization tool, but I'm worried that I'll enter all the data into some proprietary system and then not be able to get it out. I need to be able to flexibly export the photos and data to a different system (Mac, Windows, the Web, etc; who knows).

I know there's lots of ways to store data inside the image files (IPTC/XMP/EXIF), in sidecar files, or a database. But, are any of them more accepted for import/export with other tools?

(If it matters, I'm on a Mac, and Apple Photos is the tool I'd use if I didn't care about portability.)

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EXIF is mostly for technical details from the camera that created the picture, though there are some items such as GPS coordinates and date/time stamps that are appropriate to add such as in your case. IPTC is an older standard and XMP is the newest, most flexible standard for adding metadata.

A good place to start would be something like Adobe Bridge, which is free but closed source, or Digikam which is FOSS. Both will give you a nice gui to fill out information and will save it into the file following all three of the above standards, so as to be most compatible with future software. Digikam is also a Digital Asset Manager, so in addition to saving data in the file, it will also have a database so you can quickly search for images. Bridge is more like a file browser, allowing you to edit image data easily, but no real searching ability (afaik).

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