Editing EXIF data in photos

I’ve been doing a bit of research about the ability to edit a photo’s EXIF data, and I came across four pieces of software, three of them for the PC and one for the Mac.

The first one, recommended by people in various forums, is PowerEXIF Editor, made by a company called Opanda. Everyone seems to say it’s a really powerful editor, but I find it overpriced given its features. What I’m most interested in at this point is being able to batch edit the EXIF data in my photos. I have thousands of photos I’ve got to edit, and being able to select entire sets and change the date and other info directly would be a huge help. Well, the Standard version of PowerEXIF doesn’t do this, even at $49.99, which is a fairly high price for the application’s limited scope. No, I’d have to get their Professional version, at $89.99, in order to do batch EXIF editing. I find that ridiculous. At that price, I might as well add another $100 and spring for Aperture, where I get a professional photo management application that not only edits EXIF data but allows me to work with my images in pretty wonderful ways. I wouldn’t recommend PowerEXIF at their current prices. I think they should price the Standard version at $19.99, and the Professional version at $39.99. Then I’d be tempted to purchase it.

Luckily, I found Exifer. It’s coded by a single person, Friedemann Schmidt, and it comes recommended by LifeHacker as well. It’s “postcardware”, which means you’ll “need” to send a postcard to the author if you like the software. It’s a cool concept that used to be popular in the 90’s and now it’s sort of retro-cool. For those of you unfamiliar with the concept, yes, this means it’s free. It also does batch-editing of photos, so I highly recommend you give it a try.

The third piece of software is called EXIF Pilot, and it’s shareware ($19.99). While it’s got a cleaner interface than Exifer, it won’t let you edit photos in batch-mode until you pay up. It will, however, let you edit the EXIF data of individual photos, so that’s something to keep in mind. Still, $19.99 is a reasonable price to pay given the functionality of the software, and if it indeed delivers on the promise of batch EXIF data editing, then it’s well worth it.

The fourth piece of software is Reveal, made for the Mac. It’s free, and it’s meant to be mainly an EXIF data viewer, with “limited editing capabilities”. It also doesn’t do batch editing of photos. What you do is add it to the Dock, then drag photos from iPhoto onto it to display that photo’s info. You can edit each photo individually, but it’s anyone’s guess as to whether that info gets written to the original photo itself, or to a cached iPhoto copy.

Why am I interested in EXIF data editors? Because I manage my photos in iPhoto, which does not edit EXIF data by itself. This is something that I find truly annoying. I need a way to add dates and other EXIF data to my photos. What I currently propose to do is to export the photos from iPhoto, over the network, to my Windows laptop, where I can edit entire sets with EXIF Pilot or Exifer. This all seems very unnecessary, and I should be able to edit the EXIF data directly in iPhoto, but with things being what they are, this is what I have to go through.

➡ Updated 8/16/07: Since I wrote this post, I discovered two more free utilities for photographers, created by Microsoft. They work on Windows XP, and some of their functionality is built into Vista. I’ve also switched to editing my photos entirely on my PC laptop using Adobe Photoshop Lightroom. I do most of the EXIF and IPTC editing in there, because the batch editing functionality is amazing. Sometimes I also use Microsoft Photo Info (one of the utilities) to do some further EXIF editing. But if you’re not a pro or semi-pro photographer, using the two free utilities discussed in this post should work for most of your needs.