Why can't Photos import iPhoto photograph exports with the correct metadata?

Mitochondrion

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Apr 4, 2019
14
0
I have many iPhoto libraries and I am trying to export them all to Photos so that I have a Photos library (System Photo Library) containing all the photographs I have.

I want to preserve how the they are exactly on iPhoto, the original date, time, edits, icon positioning in the gallery view etc. I tried exporting them from iPhoto and try migrating them to Photos and exporting from Photos and they both do not import correctly into the main Photos library.

Screenshot 2019-05-15 at 3.59.19 PM.png
Look at the photograph from iPhoto library. Pay attention to the metadata. The date and time is
28th of April 2007 at 07:53:07 PM. This is an important detail.

I exported these photographs by doing the following.
Screenshot 2019-05-15 at 4.45.42 PM.png
I checked them in Finder Get Info Pane.
Screenshot 2019-05-15 at 4.07.26 PM.png
I also checked with Preview Inspector Pane.
Screenshot 2019-05-15 at 4.10.57 PM.png
Checking EXIF property. See the original date and time? 28th of April 2007 at 07:53:07 PM. I want this date and time.
Screenshot 2019-05-15 at 4.11.33 PM.png
Checking IPTC property. That one special date and time again. 28th of April 2007 at 07:53:07 PM.
Screenshot 2019-05-15 at 4.11.38 PM.png
Checking TIFF property. Same again as before.
Screenshot 2019-05-15 at 4.11.45 PM.png
You would think that it should import into Photos correctly? Nope.
Screenshot 2019-05-15 at 4.56.29 PM.png
What can I do about this? I have so many photographs from iPhoto libraries that I want to import into Photos with the correct metadata.
 

NoBoMac

Moderator
Staff member
Jul 1, 2014
2,848
1,183
Well, a couple of things going on.

First, Photos is preserving the file's creation date. When you export the photos, the new export copy gets a whole new create/modified date on it. Which is normal for the OS as it's something outside of the Photos app (ie. it's just a new file to the OS).

If you import the photo, it will show up under the correct metadata date under the Photos menu/tab, but will keep the new timestamp on the actual file on disk.

If you want to preserve the original file's create/modify date, you will want to use something like the "touch" command. Export your photos, then doing something like (for today): touch -t 201905150920 mypicture.jpg
to reset the file's timestamp. This could maybe be automated via AppleScript or a shell script by using the exiftool (need to download that and install it).

When you import, it will keep that file's create timestamp, but unfortunately, will still show up in Photos under a folder with the time you did the import. For example, here are some pictures I took on Sunday the 12th, but imported to Photos on the 13th.

Seems to be working correctly on my end.

Not what you probably want to hear, but, it is what it is.

ADD: you might have stumbled onto a bug, so, can report it to Apple. https://www.apple.com/feedback/photos.html

Also, do download the exiftool program and run it. I've noticed that Apple photo apps have always been a bit odd in what metadata values they use and where they keep it and how exported (eg. in iPhotos, the location information was not kept in standard EXIF slots, Apple had their own keyword slot). So, exiftool mypicture.jpg
will dump all attributes in an image, can see if Apple is embedding something re: file creation date.

https://www.sno.phy.queensu.ca/~phil/exiftool/

Another example of iPhotos/Photos wheel re-invention, for me, the correct description being added to a photo and showing up correctly in Google Photos. I need to run the following commands to copy the description Apple keeps onto the description fields the rest of the world uses. So, I export the pictures, then do...

Code:
cd picturedirectoryhere
exiftool -Description="" -r -P -progress .
exiftool -ImageDescription="" -r -P -progress .
exiftool "-Description<Caption-Abstract" -r -P -progress .
exiftool "-ImageDescription<Caption-Abstract" -r -P -progress .
 

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NoBoMac

Moderator
Staff member
Jul 1, 2014
2,848
1,183
Something else to try, to see if issues with iPhoto exports...

Convert one of the existing iPhotos libraries to Photos (believe should be able to do a Option-click start of Photos and select the iPhoto library). Export from Photos, not iPhoto. Import into master Photos library.
 

Mitochondrion

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Apr 4, 2019
14
0
I will be submitting this to Apple. I wonder what they will say about this.

I found something interesting. I had a look into "iPhoto Library.photolibrary" and "Photos Library.photoslibrary" (The iPhoto Library that was upgraded to Photo Library) by right-clicking "Show Package Contents" and found the original photographs. I open the photographs in Previews and view the Inspector panes. I also used Finder Get Info to view the file metadata as well.

This is what I have found.

The Creation Date and the Modification Date are preserved. But the time is wrong. The "correct" time is found in EXIF under Date Time Digitised and Date Time Original properties. And TIFF under Date Time property.

So Photos is using the metadata from the Creation Date and the Modification Date and ignoring the EXIF and TIFF properties.

In order to "resolve this", I would have to copy all the original photographs found in the iPhoto Library folder, not by exporting and then edit the Creation Time and Modification Time.

I also have another problem. There are some photographs I have edited in iPhoto library. They do not show up in the Masters folder inside the iPhoto Library.photolibrary. I found them in Previews folder. There is also a alias folder called Modified which points to the Preview folder. There are discrepancy with the file size. There is an edited photograph in iPhoto that is 1.5 MB but in the Previews folder inside iPhoto Library.photolibrary folder, it is 1 MB.
 
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