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!

2 Answers 2


ExifTool is a perl script that will give you great power in altering Exif data in images: http://www.sno.phy.queensu.ca/~phil/exiftool/

It's also available through homebrew (http://brew.sh):

$ brew install exiftool

If you are at all okay with working in the terminal it is fairly easy to use (and very powerful if you are dealing with lots of images). There are instructions on the main exifTool page specifically for time/date shifting.

  • Neat, looks like a good tool, thanks (I'm fairly comfortable with the terminal). Do you have any insight as to how I could scrape the date information from the iPhoto library via the terminal? I guess I could make some sort of a script to loop over the images once I get that
    – Sean
    Jul 31, 2014 at 19:48
  • BTW in iPhoto, when you set the dates, did you select the "Modify Original Files" box (Photos -> Adjust Date and Time...)
    – sdmeyers
    Jul 31, 2014 at 19:56
  • 1
    I did! Which is why I was surprised that dates weren't there. A bit of googling tells me that option only modifies EXIF dates if they're already present, it doesn't create them. Unfortunate.
    – Sean
    Jul 31, 2014 at 19:59

I've been facing the same problem FOR YEARS : how to organize thousand of pics (and avoiding doing it each time i upgrade/export/publish/change to a new soft)

I tried : - Pure finder organization - Organizer (part of Photoshop Elmts) - iPhoto

I finally came to the conclusion that only a software able to manage keywords (and write them in the XML file description) can definitly fix the pb. iPhoto is definitly not the right software for a serious DB photo management as it is acting as a black box.

After days ans days of research I found two eligible softwares (according to my criterias) : Lightroom and Photo Supreme. I already use DxO Optics Pro for Raw to Jpeg developpment therefore LR would be redundant. So I tried Photo Supreme : not very friendly on the first approach (need to read the whole online help), but once you master it, believe me, your photographer life is changing! It wites all the keywords in the file, does not import the photos (you keep the control) and is very stable... It is definitly worth the $100.

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