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I started using google photos awhile ago to archive my vacation photos. Sometimes I want to change the order of the photos and would simply rename them BUT I also found google photos actually displays photos by the date taken, not the name. This is NOT the file creation of modified date but rather something embedded in the metadata.

I store my photos in windows and found I can change the photo date and everything sorts just fine except... Sometimes I want to include some photos from my phone and they have no date in that metadata field. If I just manually plug in the date that's fine except the timezone is now wrong and I need to take that into account when I change the date. I can change the timezone in google photos directly, but then it's out of sync with the original. Phew...

So my question is, how does google photos arrive at the timezone? I've been using the exif python module to examine the metadata and according to the description there are a number of gps metadata fields but none of those are in my photos taken with a Nikon 5600 which has lots of other metadata. I did see some pics have GPS version metadata but nothing that looks like positioning info. Do I need to change some other field name?

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It seems to be a common annoyance with how Google Photos handles photos without GPS data from which it can derive timezone information.
Here are some posts on this issue:

A suggested solution is to manually set the GPSTimeStamp and GPSDateStamp fields for photos that don't have that information:

Basically, for all the non-gps tagged photos, you can add a GPS time that's UTC.
Assuming your photos are taken in localtime and DateTimeOriginal is in localtime.
Copy DateTimeOriginal to GPSDateTime
exiftool.exe -overwrite_original "-GPSDateTime<DateTimeOriginal" *.jpg

Shift GPSDateTime by however many hours to get to UTC. E.g. currently in NYC, we're -4 from UTC, so we add 4 hours to get to UTC.
exiftool.exe -overwrite_original "-GPSDateTime+=4" *.jpg

Copy GPSDateTime to GPSTimeStamp and GPSDateStamp. Google photos seems to only read GPSTimeStamp and GPSDateStamp and not GPSDateTime
exiftool.exe -overwrite_original "-GPSTimeStamp<GPSDateTime" "-GPSDateStamp<GPSDateTime" *.jpg

Another solution is provided in the github repository. It uses browser scripting to edit the date and time for the photos in Google after they are manually re-arranged:

how it works

  • script iterates over photos of currently open album and executes following steps
  • "Edit date & time" option is selected
  • timezone setting is being checked
  • date/time included in photo filename is being compared with values from the dialog
  • an update is performed in case if timezone/date/time is incorrect
  • changes (if any) are being saved
  • script stops is case of error or when end of album is reached

I have not tried out any of these methods myself, so can't guarantee they (still) work. The first method seems more robust at first sight.

Always have a backup of your photos before attempting batch editing.

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