In the macOS Photos app (and I suppose the same for iOS and iPadOS), when you assign a location to a photo, the location is not actually added to the regular exif metadata of the photo. I suppose it is just stored in the library database.

Unfortunately I did not know that and I tagged in the Photos app many many photos in there. Since I want to backup my photos into a NAS I would like the location to be in the actual file.

how can retroactively:

  • Find all the photos whose location is only in the library and no in the file's metadata
  • Edit the actual file and assign it with the location I already defined in the app?

I tried to come up with a shortcut do doing this, but honestly I was quite disappointed with the little support Photos has for shortcuts.

  • 1
    If you are prepared for command line, I am fairly sure you can use OSXPhotos github.com/RhetTbull/osxphotos to export images from Photos libraries and write exif data into those images. But I never done what you want - so not an "answer".
    – Gilby
    Oct 23, 2023 at 8:13
  • thanks @Gilby. I'll check on that tool Oct 23, 2023 at 16:36
  • Photos never applies changes to the originals, you have to re-export the photo to get changes, including location
    – Ezekiel
    Nov 6, 2023 at 18:04

1 Answer 1


Following advice from @Gilby, I tried OSXPhotos on Github. It does have an option to push metadata into the original file. e.g:

osxphotos push-exif location

This does seem to work rather fine, but there is a caveat. If that photo library is being synchronised to iCloud it might not work as you expect. the Photos app does not expect any changes in the original files, so once it has been pushed into iCloud it will not update it, which is a shame.

So, in short, you can update the original files, but you cannot force the photos app to sync the updated file into iCloud.

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