A given image in my library may have up to 20 different version. Some of these are nondestructive (same master image, different sets of edits) Some of these are destructive (round trip through photoshop or NIK, or multiple resolutions for different devices.)

I export a bunch of images in various resolutions and croppings and adjustments to external files.

In looking at some of these external files, I realize that I'd really like to have titles in them. (Previously they were keyworded.)

I do NOT want to have to find each image in on my library add the title, re-export.

For files that have multiple exports, I do NOT want edit the master's metadata, find all the exported copies, reexport the new version with metadata.

Is there a way to:

  • Have a master image
  • From it derive multiple versions
  • Remember the export parameters of all those multiple versions, including destination directory.
  • Change metadata in master copy.
  • Propagate that change to all derived images.

Here https://www.impulseadventure.com/photo/flow-catalog-versions.html is a good discussion of the various associated with versions.

Case in point in another question here: Using copied pictures for website

Workflow would have been

Master -> cropped and lower res for social media.

Latter file tagged "Facebook" or in a folder labeled facebook-business.

Find the image by scanning the facebook business folder, and the version tracker finds you the parent image.


What software have you found in the past? What are the "error prone steps" you're trying to avoid? – xiota 2 days ago

At present to do what I want I would need to:

  • Keyword a master image.
  • Export master image in various ways.
  • Import derived image(s) back into catalog program
  • Manually copy keywords from master or derivative image to the new image.
  • Manually insure that copied image has same relevant exif data (Date created in particular) that the master does.
  • Associate each derived image with master image somehow.
  • Manually edit the usage field to say how it is derived.

I don't do this. Net result: It's often faster to take a new picture than to find an existing one in my catalog.

On several occasions I have 'lost' images. I have a derived image and cannot find the master image for it.

  • \$\begingroup\$ I don't think any RAW developer / catalog software updates the metadata in exported files (e.g. JPEG and TIFFs), unfortunately. I think you would have to re-export to include any added metadata. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Apr 7, 2018 at 6:22
  • \$\begingroup\$ The idea is to find a package that isn't really exporting. You maintain your library of images within a small number of directories. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Apr 8, 2018 at 19:35
  • \$\begingroup\$ Well, if it's just for you, then that could work. Just be aware that your JPEGs and TIFFs probably won't be updated with new keywords added to the RAW image they were originally exported from. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Apr 9, 2018 at 16:09
  • \$\begingroup\$ Is your question specific to Aperture? If so, consider putting that in the title. Adobe Bridge has tools for building metadata templates for updates and exports. More info can be found in documentation for that software. \$\endgroup\$
    – Aaron
    Commented Apr 20, 2018 at 13:26
  • \$\begingroup\$ @AK No. I'm asking because I haven't found any software that does this without a raft of manual error prone steps. Aperture is mentioned only as an example. I will rewrite to make clearer. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Apr 21, 2018 at 20:35

1 Answer 1


At present to do what I want I would need to ... I don't do this.

For any software to work, it has to be used as intended. Many of the tasks you note are handled by some programs, when they are used the way they were designed to be used. However, there is no software I know of that will reliably locate arbitrarily named and located files; identify the original; and propagate metadata across duplicates.

Cataloging Software

After you start using a program that catalogs files and changes, it may help you to manage files and track changes as long as you use it the way it was intended.

Different programs use different schemes or databases to track changes and duplicates. For instance, in addition to maintaining a database, DigiKam marks and recognizes duplicates with _v# appended to the filename. Tracking is likely to fail when files are arbitrarily manipulated by external tools.

Useful Utilities

There is software that can assist you with some of the tasks you describe. If desired, you can tie them together by writing scripts.

  • findimagedupes to locate images that are visually similar and likely to be associated with each other.

  • exiftool to extract and compare EXIF data (date, time, various camera settings, etc) to increase confidence that certain files are really associated with each other.

  • jpegjudge to compare the "quality" of JPEG images to determine which is more likely to be the original, when a clear original, such as a raw file, does not exist.

  • exiftool to copy metadata.

    for i in *_v[0-9].* ; do
       exiftool -TagsFromFile "${i%_v[0-9].*}".{raf,cr2} "$i" \
          || exiftool -TagsFromFile "${i%_v[0-9].*}".jpg "$i"

Additionally, scripts are useful to automate tasks such as rotating images or stitching 360 panoramas.

Keep files organized

To avoid worsening the problem, follow a consistent naming scheme in which associated files are kept together. The exact scheme does not matter as long as it allows you to differentiate originals and locate desired images.

Dump your old files into a centralized location and re-organize them under the new scheme as-needed. Images you do not revisit have demonstrated themselves to be unimportant.

Some recommendations:

  • Keep associated images together (in the same folder).
  • Keep track of the date (and time with subseconds/index).
  • Keep track of the location.
  • Keep track of the subject.
  • Keep track of originals and derivatives.
  • Keep track of photographers and cameras.
  • Automate (some) tasks with scripts.

20180704 (Chicago, IL) Lincoln Park Zoo/FujiFilm X-E2/20180704-122532.000 Great Apes_v0.raf

Although tools, such as exiftool, can be used to create the basic folder structure and rename files when they are copied from the memory card, there is no way around manually typing some of the information because computers currently lack the ability to read your mind.

EXTL_RENAME_STR='-FileName\<\${DateTimeOriginal}%-c.%le \
EXTL_FLAGS_STD="-v -P -q -fast2 -fileOrder FileName"
EXTL_DATE_FMT="-d %Y%m%d/%Y%m%d-%H%M%S"
EXTS="jpg mov mpo cr2 raf dng jps mp4"

for ext in ${EXTS} ; do
   EXTL_EXTS="${EXTL_EXTS} -ext ${ext}"

  • \$\begingroup\$ You are correct in that no program does it now. But it's not unreasonable to do. Details can be found here: softwarerecs.stackexchange.com/questions/47756/…. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jun 4, 2018 at 15:18
  • \$\begingroup\$ I want a system that allows your three criteria, except that they are tracked from ingestion into the system, and only across a subset of the entire storage space. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jun 4, 2018 at 15:20
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ The post of requirements was written by you. It is not reasonable to expect software to perform tasks when you plan to not use them the way they are intended to be used. Given your expansive, idiosyncratic list of requirements, you should consider writing your own program or script. \$\endgroup\$
    – xiota
    Commented Aug 3, 2018 at 5:46

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