I thought this would do it:

$ exiftool -XMP:HierarchicalSubject="people|Test" Test.jpg
    1 image files updated

$ exiftool -G -j -n Test.jpg | grep Test
  "SourceFile": "Test.jpg",
  "File:FileName": "Test.jpg",
  "XMP:HierarchicalSubject": "people|Test",
  "XMP:RawFileName": "Test.jpg",

But the keyword doesn't show up in Lightroom after reimporting the metadata into Lightroom. How do I make this work?

I don't believe the image will make a difference, but if it does, I'm using this as the test image.

  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ I am assuming you are talking about Phil Harvey's ExifTool(sno.phy.queensu.ca/~phil/exiftool). If so, have you asked this question on the ExifTool Forum(u88.n24.queensu.ca/exiftool/forum)? I would assume you would get an audience that is much more familiar with this type of coding then a bunch of photographers here :) \$\endgroup\$
    – dpollitt
    Aug 25, 2011 at 0:57
  • \$\begingroup\$ Does this question still provide any value? The member who asked it, mikj, only visited two days, and has not returned since asking. Should we close this? \$\endgroup\$
    – jrista
    Nov 22, 2011 at 17:51

2 Answers 2


This question was re-asked and answered in the ExifTool forum:


It looks like LR may be ignoring the XMP in favour of the IPTC.  There are 2 things you can do:

1) delete all IPTC and use XMP only.  (easy, but not as compatible with other software)

2) use exiftool to also update the IPTC Keywords and IPTCDigest.  Use "-IPTCDigest=new" to update the Photoshop IPTCDigest whenever you change anything in the IPTC (this is mentioned in the Photoshop tag name documentation).

-- Phil [Harvey, author of ExifTool]


I hope my answer will not be marked as adv. by moderators but I suggest you to check out our Daminion to fix your problem with hierarchical keywords. The program is free.

Both Daminion and Lightroom can map tags/keywords to the XMP. So you workflow will be:

  • Import your photos to Daminion

  • Perform any manipulations with keywords and change their hierarchical structure. This way might be more convenient than interacting with command line utility. Btw we use ExifTool to map the tags/keywords to Camera RAW formats directly without sidecar files.

  • Wait a few secs while Daminion automatically syncs your keyword changes back to the XMP

  • Re-Import the files back into Lighroom

Really hope this helps


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