I've recently started a process of scanning old photo albums. I had settled into a nice workflow scanning a few images at a time and using iPhoto to add descriptions and change the dates, thinking that checking the "modify original files" box as I did so would in fact modify the original files. Not so.

I uploaded my first album to Flickr (using the iPhoto share feature, too) and was disappointed that the hundreds of photos from the 90s all have a date of July 30, 2014. Checking the files, there's no EXIF information at all, and the date created/modified are of course still July 30, 2014.

So I have three questions and I suppose I'd be satisfied with an answer to any of them:

  • Is there any way to copy iPhoto date information down to the original file? I don't really want to put tens of hours of work into something not usable outside of iPhoto. I'd prefer this because I'm used to iPhoto now and use it for my modern pictures too
  • Is there a way to at least preserve the iPhoto date when sharing to flickr? I was surprised that the built-in share function didn't do so
  • Has anyone had any success doing a similar project with software other than iPhoto?

Thank you!


5 Answers 5


The same exact thing happened to me (I had a 90s folder too!).

In order to get it to work, I had to import the photos to iPhoto, then export them to the desktop, then re-import them into iPhoto. And THEN they worked.

Once you upload them to Flickr, if you change the date in iPhoto, the date won't sync, though it syncs up tags in Flickr.

However, it's very time consuming, you'll find yourself frustrated when you have to export them multiple times (I've noticed different scanners apply dates differently), and I've spent more time on dates than actually scanning photos.


If I read the iPhoto instructions correctly, you can select all photos, choose Export from the Archive menu, and make sure to tick the checkboxes for inclusion of metadata.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks! That's one step closer -- that tags the files with the descriptions I've typed in, but the date is still missing. \$\endgroup\$
    – Sean
    Commented Jul 31, 2014 at 23:28

EXIFTool is perfect for this - the below is one of the copying examples

" exiftool -tagsfromfile %d%f.CR2 -r -ext JPG dir "

   This example will recursively rewrite all JPG images in dir with information 
   copied from the corresponding CR2 images in the same directories.

In your case it won't be a CR2 file as your source. Instead it will be a JPG file and it will be in a different directory.

Here is the link for that example, plus many other examples http://www.sno.phy.queensu.ca/~phil/exiftool/exiftool_pod.html#copying_examples

  • \$\begingroup\$ If it's not in the file, ExifTool too won't get it out. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Aug 1, 2014 at 5:27
  • \$\begingroup\$ @JeroenKransen - I see that I misread the question, I thought he meant iPhoto Albums that he was uploading to Flickr. I now realize he is starting with older physical photo albums. \$\endgroup\$
    – B Shaw
    Commented Aug 1, 2014 at 12:14

Googling around, it looks like there are three ways you could go about this. The problem, essentially, is that since your scanned images have no EXIF to begin with, iPhoto is simply reading the file's created date, and using that, and that will not be overwritten by whatever you enter into iPhoto. You have to find some way to force EXIF metadata creation, and then get the correct date to be written into EXIF metadata for each image file.

Method 1: Photos -> Adjust Date Time in iPhoto

The easiest way to "fix" the date is probably from within iPhoto itself, but you can't take advantage of the entered dates. You have to re-enter them.

  1. Select the images in iPhoto.

  2. Select the menu command Photos -> Adjust Date and Time.

  3. Enter the date time you want.

  4. Click Adjust.

See: http://www.scanyourentirelife.com/iphoto-change-date-time-photo-taken-digital-camera-scanned-photo/

Method 2: Phoshare export

You could also use the open source tool Phoshare to force the iPhoto data into EXIF fields, but it looks like it only works on jpegs.

Method 3: exiftool

And you could use exiftool from the command line to batch overwrite the DateTimeOriginal EXIF field with the values you want. Basically, install exiftool, then using the Terminal, navigate with the cd command to the folder with the scanned files, and then run the exiftool command on the files you want to change the date on with the correct arguments. Something like:

exiftool -DateTimeOriginal="<date_you_want>" <list of files>

To keep the correct date, select the photos and drag to the finder. After that if you want smaller photos, you can use a separate app. M.C


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