The image viewer nomacs offers a quick way to add image notes via Exif.Image.ImageDescription metadata.

After having edited the form for my-image.jpg, I can see this property in nomacs and Thunar (Linux Xfce file explorer).

But exiftool will not show it:

exiftool my-image.jpg

The following has also been tried after having read this post:

exiftool -EXIF:ImageDescription my-image.jpg
exiftool -Exif:ImageDescription my-image.jpg

I need a way to process the image notes via CLI and would like to use exiftool for this purpose. Hence: what have I missed?

  • Have you try exiftool -a my-image.jpg and the filter the output? Jun 16, 2021 at 19:15
  • @RomeoNinov just tried the -a switch, unfortunately no additional effect (same with -e, -ee, -u).
    – ramo
    Jun 16, 2021 at 19:29
  • This mean for me the software do not store the note in to the image, maybe its a bug. Jun 16, 2021 at 19:54
  • 1
    I did notice that nomacs doesn't actually save the data in the file until you close the program. So even though I hit the save icon a bunch of times, nothing will show up in exiftool until I exit the program.
    – StarGeek
    Jun 16, 2021 at 21:13
  • 1
    @RomeoNinov works, thanks! Of course, this deletes all other metadata, but fine regarding image metadata apparently being buggy as a whole. You can post that as answer, if you want and I will happily accept it.
    – ramo
    Jun 17, 2021 at 7:20

2 Answers 2


Based on the discussion in comments seems like metadata of this image file is corrupted. What you can do is to cleanup the metadata and try again:

exiftool -all= path_to_file

Be aware this will remove all the metadata from the file. If you want to remove only particular metadata you can use command like:

exiftool -EXIF:ImageDescription= path_to_file

To get the exact name you can use command:

exiftool -a path_to_file
  • 1
    This is great. When I have more rep, I will upvote your answer as well
    – ramo
    Jun 17, 2021 at 9:42
  • 1
    Btw: I also have found a method, that tries to preserve existing tags and post this as alternative answer
    – ramo
    Jun 17, 2021 at 9:43
  • 1
    @ramo updoot to ya. =)
    – scottbb
    Jun 17, 2021 at 17:00

(In addition to Romeo Ninov's great answer)

There is an Exiftool FAQ alternative, that tries to repair JPEG file-metadata and preserve existing tags:

exiftool -all= -tagsfromfile @ -all:all -unsafe -icc_profile my-image.jpg

ExifTool may be used to fix metadata problems in JPEG images by deleting all metadata and rebuilding it from scratch. [...]

This command deletes all metadata then copies all writable tags that can be extracted from the original image to the same locations in the updated image. The "Unsafe" tag is a shortcut for unsafe EXIF tags in JPEG images which are not normally copied. JPEG images may also contain an ICC color profile which should be preserved. The "ICC_Profile" tag is also marked as unsafe, but is not part of the EXIF so it isn't covered by the "Unsafe" shortcut and must be specified separately.

After repairing an image like this you should be able to write to it without errors, but note that some metadata from the original image may have been lost in the process.

Note: ExifTool will not modify the JPEG image data, so if the image itself is corrupted (eg. if you get a message saying "Not a valid JPEG"), then ExifTool can not be used to repair the image. Also, ExifTool may not be used like this to repair TIFF-based files or RAW files -- the risk of image corruption is too great because the image is stored in the same IFD as the metadata in these files.

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