I need to move about 550 photos from iPhoto on an old eMac to a new iPad Air. The eMac won't be used anymore after everything is transferred. I already tried the following approaches, but they didn’t quite have the expected result:

  • Sync photos from iPhoto to iPad using iTunes (because the eMac is too old to run the required version of iTunes for the iPad, I used another Mac as an intermediate on which I set up iPhoto). This creates an album like “Pictures from Mac” that can't be removed, any of these photos must be duplicated before they can be edited.
    This is not really what's wanted: the idea is to “move” the photos permanently to the iPad, not “make them available on the iPad for viewing”, which is what iTunes sync really seems to do.
  • Used the app GoodReader to get the files from the eMac via AFP, then added them from GoodReader to the Photos app. This does what's wanted: the pictures can be edited on the iPad without having to be duplicated (and they can be deleted as well).
    But all the photos appeared as if they were taken today, rather than on their original date (even though the export from iPhoto to the folder which I accessed through AFP preserved the timestamp of the photos in the “modification timestamp” of the files)

How can I “move” (not “sync”) the photos to the iPad, while preserving the timestamp of the photos?

Some technical info: the eMac is a 1GHz PowerPC G4 one, running OS X 10.5.8 with iTunes 10.6.3 and iPhoto 5.0.4. Software Update reports everything is up-to-date.

  • Is the eMac running 10.6? Please let us know the version of OS and what version of iTunes. Your best bet might be getting the photos into iPhoto on the emac so let us know what version of that you have available with an edit to the post.
    – bmike
    Commented Jan 18, 2015 at 14:27
  • Anyone have experience with phototransferapp.com or photosync-app.com? It seems these might be useful, but I can't find info on whether they can do what I expect; make the photos editable on the iPad, while preserving the timestamp in the transfer.
    – Rinzwind
    Commented Jan 18, 2015 at 16:25

2 Answers 2


I wound up giving PhotoSync a try. This had better (compared to GoodReader), if not entirely satisfying, results: I was able to transfer the photos (after exporting the photos from iPhoto on the eMac and copying them to an intermediate, newer Mac), and found that most had the correct date. But about 150 did not, these appeared as if taken today. I deleted them again for now. I suspect these failed because they don't have any EXIF dates set.

Next time I meet up with the eMac/iPad owner, I will try transferring the remaining 150 photos again after forcibly setting their EXIF date to the same date as the file's modification date. There's an answer on the Photography SE which details how to do that using the command line utility “exiftool”. I'll try to remember to report back here on whether this works. I’d still appreciate any answer explaining a more straightforward approach.

Edit: transferring the remaining 150 photos after forcing their EXIF dates was succesful. I'll summarize my approach for anyone wanting to follow it:

  • On the iPad, get PhotoSync from the App Store.
  • On an intermediate Mac, get the PhotoSync companion app from the Mac App Store.
  • On the intermediate Mac, install “exiftool” (I used MacPorts to do this).
  • In iPhoto on the eMac, use the “Export” option in the menu. Make sure to set the options to “Original”. Transfer the exported files to the intermediate Mac. Make sure to use a means of transfer that preserves the file modification dates.
  • Use the following Terminal command on the intermediate Mac to fix files without any EXIF dates by setting the EXIF “ModifyDate” to the file modification date:

    exiftool -overwrite_original_in_place -preserve '-FileModifyDate>ModifyDate' -if 'not $DateTimeOriginal' -if 'not $ModifyDate' -if 'not $CreateDate' *

  • Open PhotoSync on the iPad, and use the PhotoSync companion app on the intermediate Mac to transfer the files using the “Send” command in the menu.

Note that a drawback of this approach is that it doesn't preserve the organization of the photos into albums that was done on the eMac, but that was not an issue in my case.

Instead of PhotoSync, you may be able to use AirDrop to transfer the files, but I was not able to try this as I didn’t have access to a Mac which supports AirDrop to iOS devices.

Before fixing any files with exiftool, you may want to move the ones that need fixing to a separate subdirectory: exiftool -Directory=needs_fixing -if 'not $DateTimeOriginal' -if 'not $ModifyDate' -if 'not $CreateDate' *


Buy a USB-drive compatible with both machines (may require an adapter or two).

Export the photos you want to copy, from the eMac to the USB-drive as JPEG files.

Attach the USB-drive to the iPad and tell Photos to import from the drive.

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