Are there any apps for OS X that can edit photos metadata (such as keywords, etc.) without all the bells and whistles of full stack photo management apps (such as Lightroom, iPhoto, etc.) with the option of embedding it in the file rather than keeping it in a separate place?

Some more info:

  • I want to retain my own folder structure with photos and don’t prefer programs organizing them in their own way and their own place.
  • I want to hard code all the metadata in the photos themselves so they are easily portable.
  • I want to be able to edit metadata in a batch when necessary
  • No command line tools, GUI apps only (thanks, @IconDaemon)

3 Answers 3


The quintessential photo editor that uses folder structure is Photo Mechanic from Camera Bits - it's a professional workhorse designed for triaging 10,000 photos in a weekend and priced accordingly.

It stores all metadata in the images using industry-standard and cross-platform metadata fields and formats. It's highly automated and highly optimized for speed in rendering images to screen and rapidly moving through images for bulk tagging and classification.

Automator lets you make droplets to bulk edit photos, so you might start with that and move up if you find yourself spending more time or money on making a tool than it would cost to buy a tool.

For an example of the power of automation on OS X - check out this workflow. It explains how to use scripts and photo metadata fields that Finder and OS X support out of the box:

  • Thanks, Photo Mechanic seems to be exactly what I needed. It’s unbelievable how it’s so low under Google’s radar comparing to other apps and having in mind it exists from 1998! Commented Oct 18, 2015 at 20:24
  • @SinišaŠašić Yes - it's a niche product, but my professional photographer friends all swear by Photo Mechanic and swear at most other software for tagging. Yes, they photoshop or lightroom with the select images, but that's after they are all tagged, rated and the select best are identified.
    – bmike
    Commented Oct 18, 2015 at 22:20

A few years ago, I pointed a photographer friend to ExifTool, a free, command-line based metadata editor. It looked pretty powerful and it did what she wanted. I haven't used it myself, so YMMV.

  • Thanks, I forgot to mention it: no command line, GUI apps only. I’ll edit my question. Commented Oct 18, 2015 at 20:19
  • This serves my purpose of checking specific values with a online such as: cat _MG_0412.CR3 | exiftool - | grep 'Distance' Commented Nov 30, 2023 at 15:17

Another possibility is Fotostation https://www.fotostation.com/product-mac/

It purports to be good at metadata, and also at searching. 2 week trial available.

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