Is it possible to view/dump metadata found in images using Terminal with built-in command line tools? I'm looking for something like exiftool, but native to macOS Mojave. Does such a command/tool exist?

  • 2
    Just curious, why not just use exiftool? Apr 7, 2019 at 0:29

1 Answer 1


The metadata in the filesystem is exposed from mdls but I don’t recall ever seeing exit data being parsed as that is embedded in the binary portion of the file and not stored as filesystem metadata on APFS or HFS.

Go get exif tool as a stand alone download https://www.sno.phy.queensu.ca/~phil/exiftool/ or you can use https://brew.sh to get exiftool and script extracting the data you want, subsequently saving it as metadata for mdls or spotlight.

There might be a (un)documented way to parse the database files within Photos, but since those are private, I expect they change from version to version or are going to be some work to extract. Maybe an excellent tool like Power Photos could help there parsing the data from Photos libraries: https://www.fatcatsoftware.com/powerphotos/

  • 1
    You do not need to use brew, just download the installer from ExifTool by Phil Harvey. Apr 7, 2019 at 1:25
  • Cool. I forget to check since I keyed a little too strongly on the command line aspect. Thanks @user3439894
    – bmike
    Apr 7, 2019 at 1:48

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