Problem with timestamps in Photos

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by MacGvr, Aug 3, 2016.

  1. MacGvr, Aug 3, 2016
    Last edited: Aug 3, 2016

    MacGvr macrumors newbie

    Aug 3, 2016
    I've got a problem with photos & videos that I've imported from my Ipad to my Mac with Photos.

    The problem (with some files) is that Photos shows the correct time & date when they where created (i.e. when the button was pushed).

    But when I check the same files in Finder (in Show package content -> Masters), the date & time shown seems to be when they were imported. For example: A video was filmed on July 2. Photos shows that correctly, but the original file in the Photo library in Finder will show a later date, lets say July 11 - presumably the date when the file was imported.

    And also: if I export an unmodified version of the file from Photos, it will also get the wrong date even if the right date is shown in Photos. The unmodified version will get the (wrong) date visible in Finder.

    I only now realized this, and I've got quite a number of photos & videos that I've imported via Photos and then, from Finder->Masters, I have moved them to other folders. So now I'm afraid some of them have the wrong timestamp.

    Is there an easy solution to this? I have found the program Exiftool that does a great job of actually finding the real creation date & time, and I guess there is a way to correct the timestamps with Exiftool. But it seems to be a bit beyond my computer knowledge.

    So is there an easier solution, and has somebody else encountered this problem (i.e. that Photos shows a different timestamp than the Photo library in Finder, and that the Photos one is actually the correct one)?
  2. dwig macrumors 6502

    Jan 4, 2015
    Key West FL
    None of this is a problem with Photos and its not really a problem with Finder. It is, instead, a problem with your understanding how Finder works and what it is designed to display. BTW, both the dates shown in Photos and the ones shown in Finder are correct; they are the dates of different events and hence will usually be quite different.

    Finder shows information about the file on disk from the OS's point of view. It will show dates for various file actions (e.g. created, modified,...) that apply to the specific copy of the file. Photos ignores the file's OS level date stamps, those shown by Finder, and instead shows the data embedded in the file (read: the metadata) including any date info that was recorded into the file by the camera, provided some intermediate app (one that may have reprocessed the image after it was shot and before it was loaded into Photos) hasn't stripped out the data or otherwise altered it.
  3. MacGvr thread starter macrumors newbie

    Aug 3, 2016
    (Disclaimer: the following comment relates to the "problem files" that I describe in the beginning of the thread.)

    I disagree with you, dwig.

    Yes, I understand that Finder shows a different time than the push-of-the-button event.

    But why can't you make Finder show the push-of-the-button time if you want to? Why do I need to run Exiftool from the terminal to do that (for the problem files)?

    Photos shows the push-of-the-button time of the original file, but Finder is not able to do that.

    And the same thing happens if I export the original unaltered file from Photos: Finder won't be able to show the original creation date, even if it is in the metadata. Isn't that strange?

    I mean, if one - as I did - imports files with Photos, and then copies the original files from the Photos library, one cannot in Finder check the dates when the photos where taken and arrange them according to that.
  4. lvar macrumors newbie

    Oct 2, 2015
    No, it is not strange I think :)
    Finder is not a photo management tool, or DAM software. It is a piece of software simply for managing your files, all of them. It doesn't care about the exif time of creation. It also doesn't show the shutter speed or aperture in a Finder window.

    I understand what you want, but you are wanting to do something that Finder simply is not designed for. That is not Finder's fault.
    If you want to have a manual way of controlling the location of your photos and bypass Photos, you should look at a different piece of software. Bridge, Lightroom, or one of the many others.
    It will save you much time if not anything else. I never use it but the mac photo importer software (standard on mac although I don't know the correct name of the top of my head) may even be something you want.
  5. MacGvr thread starter macrumors newbie

    Aug 3, 2016
    Yes, but I still consider photo dates more important than shutter speed when it comes to arranging my family photos. (And I haven't altered the files that show the "wrong" dates in Finder, I have just imported them.)

    Yes, I know. I've never liked Photos anyway, but I guess it is pre-set to import photos from the Ipad. I'll change that.
  6. jp_noli macrumors newbie


    Aug 4, 2017

    I have a similar question, and you seem to know what you're talking about. I have these family pictures taken on an old digital camera. The time on the camera was wrong at the moments of capture. For example, if the pictures were taken on June 11, 2012, but the time on the camera said Jan 1, 2009, then the picture will be time stamped as Jan 1, 2009. After importing the picture into Photos, I changed the time stamp, using the Image -> Adjust Date and Time Function, to be Jun 11, 2012. After this, the picture show up in the right moment on the timeline (2012), and it's great. If I export the photo save on my hard drive, this "altered" time stamp will hold true. I know this because if I import the same picture back into Photos for whatever reason or someone does it on their computer when I send them the picture, then it will appear at the proper time in the timeline and not hold the "wrong" time that the camera originally gave it. This was exactly what I expected and it makes me happy. However, this does not work with movies. If a movie file was given the wrong time originally by the camera, I would import it to Photos, change the date to the time the movie was actually taken, and then the movie will appear in the proper spot, just like with the pictures. When I export the movie to save it on a hard drive, if I use the subfolder, by memories, function, it will even be filed into the correct folder using the date that I imported. However, if anyone takes that same exported video and imports it back into Photos or other photo software, it will again display the improper date that the camera originally gave it. This happens when I export the unmodified original (obviously) but also when I chose to "export one video." Any ideas? Is this just a bug? It is really bothering me.
  7. kenoh macrumors demi-god


    Jul 18, 2008
    Glasgow, UK
    It is because Finder is talking about time stamps of creation on the disk not the capture time.

    Finder is for filesystems, Photos for digital asset management.

    Photos is aware of EXIF data, Finder isnt - it only cares about files on filesystems.

    Imagine the mess Time Machine would get into if you started importing files and the filesystem reported creation dates prior to the backups that have been completed.. lol carnage would ensue..
  8. robgendreau macrumors 68040

    Jul 13, 2008
    Lots of apples and oranges here.

    Date/time is stored in image files in lots of places. In exif data alone there are several: date/time created, date/time modified, date/time digitized. For example the even depicted might have been captured in 1942 and then scanned in 2017, so the dates would be different.

    In addition, XMP might have a date, and so even in some situations IPTC metadata.

    And those might be the same, or might not be the same, as file creation date, file modification date, and file access date. These are stored as part of the filesystem, and are independent of the other photo metadata dates.

    So when you use software to say sort on date, behind the scenes the software has to decide "what date?" Photo software will prioritize the exif creation date, but if it can't find one (like in a scan, or really old digital image), it might use a filesystem date instead. And video software has a harder time, cuz the exif data for timestamps is apparently not as consistent in vid files.

    Filesystem software (like Finder) is gonna do the opposite: it wants the filesystem dates since that's important to say backup and other operations. It doesn't really care when the photo was snapped. And to maintain files, it sometimes will change those dates. So hoping that the Finder will keep that original snap date is a fool's errand, since that's what exif is for, not the filesystem, as kenoh noted.

    So if you need exif timestamps to be set correctly and for organization and such, use a photo-specific application. You can use something like exiftool to copy exif times to file creation times, but again, that's not as stable. If you don't wanna use exiftool directly, I'd recommend Graphic Converter. It has a lot of tools to manipulate such metadata easily.

    Also, if the point of messing with timestamps is to get a file ordering result in the Finder (or some similar application) then a better way to manage that is often to use the filename instead. Most photo software can take an exif-generated order (or any custom order) and memorialize that by say renaming with sequence numbers, or even appending exif timestamps, or all sorts of other ways). That way the photos will sort as you want them to in Finder no matter how the dates in the photo metadata or filesystem change. Graphic Converter can do that too.
  9. l.i. bruce fan macrumors member

    Oct 5, 2012
    Apologies for revivng an old thread (or if this viewed as hijacking a thread) but this is the closest i have found with regard to the issue I am trying to work out. Disclaimer, i am new to Mac world (although a long time iOS user) and trying to import my nearly 2tb mess of family photos and videos into the Photos app onmy new MacBook Pro.

    Photos import fine and are organized according to the date they were taken, however the video files from my camcorder are all considered by Photos to have been created on the date they are imported, rather than the date they were originally recorded or shot. I know I can manually adjust the date and time once imported, but as I have literally thousands of short clips/videos spanning over 20 years, this will be a huge undertaking, so I’m wondering if there is a better way.

    The problem seems to stem from the fact that the video files were copied from the SD cards to an external hard drive (in Windows systems) and the “created” date attached to the file is the date they were copied. However, the “modified” date is the date the videos were shot. Anyway to get Phots to recognize the “modified” date as the date of the video file?

    Thank you in advance for any input you might have...
  10. harriska2 macrumors 6502a


    Mar 16, 2011
    Does exiftools work on videos? With photos, I put files into dated directories (1940s, 1950s, ... 1991, etc) then used exiftools to change various dates for all the files in the folders. Don’t know if it works for videos.

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