1. Ingmar
    October 28, 2011 at 10:08 am

    1. Yes I can see the quote
    2. Google Picasa
    3. Amateur

  2. Abby Brack
    October 28, 2011 at 10:21 am

    Yes, I can read it using Adobe Bridge and what a lovely view of the Rappahannock River!
    Metadata is wonderful, isn’t it?

  3. Mike Ashenfelder
    October 28, 2011 at 10:23 am

    Thanks, Ingmar, for your participation. That seemed quick and easy.

  4. Rick Wiggins
    October 28, 2011 at 10:26 am

    I am able to see the quote using iPhoto 8.1.2. Definitely amateur…

  5. Mike Ashenfelder
    October 28, 2011 at 10:30 am

    Thanks Abby for your input. It was indeed a lovely scene, a true photo op, and smart phones take such terrific pictures.

    Would you recommend the program you used?

  6. Mike Ashenfelder
    October 28, 2011 at 10:35 am

    Thanks Rick. So far your program is the third one mentioned in as many responses. It’s encouraging to know that the description is at least viewable in a variety of programs, which implies there is a standardization of fields between photo-editing programs. Which means it shouldn’t be a huge technological leap to implement a standardized “Add Description” feature camera.

  7. Seth
    October 28, 2011 at 10:41 am

    Windows XP:
    IrfanView (v. 4.25) works fine but GIMP (v. 2.4.5) discards IPTC metadata.

    I am, most certainly, an amateur.

  8. Mike Ashenfelder
    October 28, 2011 at 10:44 am

    Thanks, Seth, for trying two different programs for us.

    I, too, am an amateur. We are the people who would benefit the most from a simple, on-camera “Add Description” feature.

  9. David Riecks
    October 28, 2011 at 10:47 am


    I used Jeffrey’s “Exif” Metadata reader (really a misnomer as it reads all kinds of metadata, not just Exif) to find the quote: “An investment in knowledge pays the best interest. — Benjamin Franklin”

    Others can peek behind the curtain by viewing this at: http://bit.ly/vozkg2

    Those that are interested in reading more about the first International Photo Metadata Conference will find my notes at http://www.controlledvocabulary.com/imagedatabases/phmdc_2007a.html

    Just as big of a problem is that many of the popular social media and photo sharing services are “stripping” that information from our photos as they are uploaded or resized. I can’t imagine anything more frustrating than spending the time learning how to embed this meaningful info, only to find out later that facebook or others have undone all that work! Those that are interested in learning more, finding out which services do preserve your embedded metadata, or contributing to the ongoing survey can visit http://www.controlledvocabulary.com/socialmedia


  10. Zelle
    October 28, 2011 at 10:49 am

    Sadly I am not using my personal laptop which has a few image software progams, but with this one I can see the full quote using windows photo viewer, although I didn’t see it with microsoft paint. I can see it with Windows Live Photo Gallery.

  11. Mike Ashenfelder
    October 28, 2011 at 11:13 am

    Thanks, as ever, for the information, David. Especially about stripping information. When I first uploaded the river photo to this blog story, our blog-creating program stripped out the descriptions that I’d embedded.

    The original size of the photo was something like 1200 pixels wide and I had to re-size it to 300 pixels wide fit the web-page layout. When the program re-sized the photo, it stripped out all the information I’d typed into the original. I had to download the new, smaller version, re-enter the information and upload the photo again.

    Is it possible to lock metadata into a photo so that processing won’t affect it?

  12. Chris Dietrich – US National Park Service
    October 28, 2011 at 11:23 am

    Using Windows Explorer at Windows 7 I can see all of the populated EXIF fields including the Franklin quote. Amateur photographer, professional metadata hack…

  13. David Riecks
    October 28, 2011 at 11:24 am


    The problem may be your blogging software, but more likely is the underlying image processing engine/library on your server. The two most popular are Image Magick and GD. The default for Image Magick is to retain photo metadata but many techs set it up not to retain, as this speeds up the processing. GD on the other hand is not aware of the embedded metadata and thus doesn’t retain it when it resizes the image.

    You either have to turn off the image processing feature, or upload an image that is under the threshold where it is resized on the server.

    We discovered that Drupal does this as well when we build the http://www.stockartistsalliance.org/ and http://www.photometadata.org websites.

    You might check with your IT folks and see if they are using GD and see if you can change to Image Magick… or set up Image Magick so that it does retain the metadata.

    In response to your other questions, it’s not possible to “lock” metadata in an image. It’s a rather lengthy discussion, but the executive summary is that it would require the creation of an entirely new file format that would not be compatible with anything else. Otherwise all you have to do is create a new file, and drag the image pixels to it in your photo software (Photoshop, Elements, etc.) and all metadata would be gone.


  14. Mike Ashenfelder
    October 28, 2011 at 11:30 am

    Thanks for testing for us, Zelle. So far we have a range of programs that can see the information.

    At the Signal, we cannot endorse or appear to endorse products, so we scrupulously avoid naming programs. But so far we’ve determined that the information I entered in my photo-processing software (whose name rhymes with Frodoshop) is stable and viewable in about nine popular photo-editing programs, both stand-alone and web-based.

    I wonder if any one of the nine programs could also embed descriptions that would remain fixed and viewable among the remaining programs? If so, that stability and standardization is reassuring.

  15. Mike Ashenfelder
    October 28, 2011 at 11:33 am

    Thanks, Chris. Could you elaborate just a little more on your process? Did you use the Internet Explorer browser or Windows Explorer? And, within that, how did you view the EXIF fields?



  16. Louisa Trott
    October 28, 2011 at 11:35 am

    1 – yes, I can see the quote

    2 – In Windows Photo Viewer I found the quote in the Subject field of the Properties (in the File menu). In Photoshop, the quote was in the Description field, also in the Properties. In Irfan View, it was a little harder to find. It was located in the Image menu > Information. If you click on EXIF info, the info is partly displayed in the image description field, but if you select IPTC, the info is in the Caption field. So this highlights well the point you made about the various terminology.

    3 – I’m not a professional photographer but I do have a diploma and a BA degree in “old school” photography.

    I love the option of the “Add description” button.

    Looking forward to hearing more.

  17. Mike Ashenfelder
    October 28, 2011 at 11:39 am


    So, if I understand you correctly, the image-processing engine library on a server has to be “aware” of metadata, right, in order to know to keep it? Could you say the same about the social-media sites or online photo sites that strip out metadata out of uploaded photos? That their software just needs to be aware of metadata?

  18. Mike Ashenfelder
    October 28, 2011 at 11:42 am

    Louisa, thanks so much for testing the photo in all those programs. And see how the quote wandered into different fields? Gaaah! No wonder most people won’t bother with the process.

  19. Jennie Kelly
    October 28, 2011 at 11:45 am

    Can see it in Photoshop Elements 2.0 but I never knew that menu option existed before! So I wouldn’t have found the information without your article. Doesn’t appear in Windows Picture Viewer for me though – although I’m not entirely sure where to look.

    What about adding information by right clicking then going to Properties and Summary? How does that work in other programs.

    (and definitely amateur – in photography terms at least).

  20. leo_khan,moon Image digital
    October 28, 2011 at 12:20 pm

    Thanks, as ever, for the information.

    standardization of fields between photo-editing programs.

    I can see it with Windows Live Photo Gallery in space

    Please download the photo and let me know:

    I am using
    VLC media player

  21. Wayne Eastep
    October 28, 2011 at 12:23 pm

    An investment in knowledge pays the best interest. — Benjamin Franklin

    I opened the image using the Firefox browser and read the data with EXIF Viewer. I am a professional photographer.

  22. Dan Craig
    October 28, 2011 at 12:59 pm

    I can see the quote and info using exif on Linux. Could not see them using GIMP, though apparently there are exif plugins for it.

    On the topic of stripping data: I love how my iPhone embeds lat, lon, altitude, even angles, I think. Unfortunately it strips those out when you try to upload the images to, say, the Dropbox app on the phone. The only way to keep the metadata is to download them from the phone to a computer, then use them. Very frustrating that images are modified as they get moved around.

  23. Barry Wheeler
    October 28, 2011 at 1:14 pm

    I’ll echo David’s work. I read the metadata using Adobe Bridge and Phil Harvey’s Exiftool. I noted that the original camera (or your phone) is no longer available – it has been stripped out along with a number of other interesting bits of metadata. As David points out, resizing processing is the trouble spot. Which I suppose is understandable when some sites receive hundreds of millions of photographs a day!

  24. Mike Ashenfelder
    October 28, 2011 at 1:15 pm

    Thanks, Wayne. You’re the second professional photographer in this group of commenters who used that viewer.

  25. Mike Ashenfelder
    October 28, 2011 at 1:18 pm

    Thanks for your response, Leo Khan. That’s interesting. I thought that the player you used was only for video. I’m going to revisit it.

  26. Mike Ashenfelder
    October 28, 2011 at 1:26 pm

    So, Barry, about the stripped out metadata. Would you say that the lesson here is:
    - to definitely add descriptions to your original photos (the master files, which, of course, you’ll responsibly backup and protect)
    - and don’t count on any of those metadata/descriptions you carefully typed in surviving uploading, downloading or processing?

  27. Mike Ashenfelder
    October 28, 2011 at 1:40 pm

    GPS data is definitely a cool feature for digital photos, and it seems to be more widespread on smartphones than cameras, if I understand the technological situation correctly. High-end cameras have it but I don’t think it’s standard yet on regular consumer cameras. It’s only a matter of time though.

    So, even if you can’t identify who is in the picture, you can deduce from its automatically added photometadata when and where it was taken, in addition to the mechanical camera settings. And, of course, that embedded GPS data can be used to help sort photos by geographic region, and so on. Great stuff.

  28. Barry Wheeler
    October 28, 2011 at 1:58 pm

    Some sites retain the original and all embedded metadata. Some sites retain the embedded metadata when the resize the images. Some strip it all out. So I’d say, choose a site wisely to suit your purposes. And retain your own copy …

  29. Mike Ashenfelder
    October 28, 2011 at 2:36 pm

    Louisa, it would be even cooler if you could just speak the description into the phone and have it automatically transcribe and embed the text into the photo.

  30. Mike Ashenfelder
    October 28, 2011 at 2:37 pm

    Be sure to visit http://photometadata.blogspot.com/2011/10/why-cant-i-insert-metadata-at-capture.html, get the contact information for your camera and email the manufacturer with a request for an Add Description feature. You never know unless you ask.

  31. Gary McGath
    October 28, 2011 at 3:11 pm

    I gave it a try using JHOVE — geeky of me, I know, and maybe self-serving. The quote is there, but JHOVE exports the XMP in a lump and the XML export escapes all the “” characters. The quote is there, but not in a way that’s easy to find.

    Amateur photographer, professional programmer. :)

  32. Ronny Nilsen
    October 28, 2011 at 3:14 pm

    1) Creator: Library of Congress
    Caption/Description: An investment in knowledge pays the best interest. — Benjamin Franklin
    Headline: Rappahannock River, Fredericksburg, VA
    Title: Rappahannock River
    Location: Fredericksburg, VA
    a) Image Preview app in MAC OS.
    b) Bridge gives additional info like address and
    3) Amateur

  33. Mike Ashenfelder
    October 28, 2011 at 3:26 pm

    Thanks, Gary. I think you just might get the Geekiest Response award. JHOVE indeed.

    But your test is a terrific confirmation that “the quote is there, but not in a way that’s easy to find.” The responses to the Ben Franklin challenge show the range of tools in use: software bundled with Macs and PCs, professional photo-editing software, freeware, EXIF viewers, media players and format-validation software. And only some consistency and reliability.

  34. Mike Ashenfelder
    October 28, 2011 at 3:31 pm

    Thanks Ronny. Would you recommend the software you used?

  35. Ronny Nilsen
    October 28, 2011 at 3:38 pm

    Yes, as it comes with OS and is the default application when you open a .jpg file on a mac. It makes the information available, but you have to know where to look, it´s not in your face… (Tools -> Show inspector -> IPTC)

  36. Christina
    October 28, 2011 at 3:45 pm

    No, I cannot see it when I click on the image using Firefox. I tried to see if I could choose what to open it with, but was not given that option. There is also not an option to download.

    Apparently I am even more of an amateur than I realized because I don’t know what these people are talking about when they mention EXIF viewers….

  37. Mike Ashenfelder
    October 28, 2011 at 3:52 pm

    And the point of this blog is that you shouldn’t have to know what an EXIF viewer is…or care. Just as when you drive to the store in a car you shouldn’t have to know how the engine works. Adding information to digital photos shouldn’t have to be a complex process involving computers, software and a learning curve.

    Be sure to visit http://photometadata.blogspot.com/2011/10/why-cant-i-insert-metadata-at-capture.html, get your camera manufacturer’s contact address and email them a request for an “Add Description” feature.

  38. Arlene
    October 28, 2011 at 4:06 pm

    I viewed the file properties via Windows Explorer in the Details tab. I also did a keyword search for Rappahannock on the drive to which I saved the file and was able to locate the file using that function–which is nice: I hadn’t realized that would work!

  39. HL Schaaf
    October 28, 2011 at 4:10 pm

    Irfanview with plugins works fine.

  40. Sara
    October 28, 2011 at 4:57 pm

    I could not see the metadata in any of the programs available to me on this PC (Microsoft Picture Manager, Windows Picture Viewer, or Paint. I am not really a photographer of either amateur or professional status, but have to deal with analog photos all day.

  41. sasha
    October 28, 2011 at 5:23 pm

    1) Yes I can see the quote.
    2) Just saved image as from the website and then opened up file info on Mac through “Get Info.”
    3) Amateur

  42. Mike Ashenfelder
    October 28, 2011 at 5:24 pm

    Thanks for checking, Sara. By “amateur” I meant anyone other than a professional. Just your average photo snapper.

  43. Bob Bater
    October 28, 2011 at 6:23 pm

    ACDSee Pro 3:
    Photographer: Library of Congress
    Caption: An investment in knowledge pays the best interest. — Benjamin Franklin

    PaintShop Pro X3 EXIF Information:
    Artist: Library of Congress
    Image Title: An investment in knowledge pays the best interest. — Benjamin Franklin

    Adobe Fireworks:
    Document Title: Rappahannock River
    Author: Library of Congress
    Description: An investment in knowledge pays the best interest. — Benjamin Franklin

    Interesting exercise!

  44. Bob Bater
    October 28, 2011 at 6:24 pm

    Sorry – I’m an amateur when it comes to photography.

  45. sharon m.
    October 28, 2011 at 7:29 pm

    1. i always do things the hard way, but i got it, by downloading on my mac and dragging it from documents (how’d it get in there?) into
    2.iPhoto. then it showed right up in the information corner. at the bottom. in tiny print.
    3. very, very amateur. but i’m also a librarian, by golly gee, and i was gonna get it if it took me all night. which it didn’t, thank goodness. if i hadn’t been looking for it, i’d never have noticed it. one of the drawbacks of having a small laptop.

  46. Sandy C
    October 28, 2011 at 7:45 pm

    1) I can see the quote
    2) I am using a Mac (OS X), so I just select the “Get Info” choice that is available for any file.
    3) I am an amateur photographer, but use my photos in job-related products.

    I find that other operating systems — perhaps older versions of Windows — cannot read/display the data associated with a photo, such as the time it was taken.

    Thanks for the great blog!

  47. Roger Kadau
    October 28, 2011 at 9:46 pm

    In IDimager, the quote shows up in the Full Exif, not the summary Exif. It is seen in both the image description field and the image caption field.

    Lightroom 3 has a bunch of ways to view the metadata (mimimal, quick describe, large caption, EXIF and IPTC together, EXIF and IPTC separately) The quote is seen in the caption field in each of the different views, except for the EXIF where it is not seen and the IPTC where it is seen in the description field.

    I would consider myself an amateur working as a professional (but don’t tell anyone).

  48. Terrell
    October 28, 2011 at 11:36 pm

    From the Mac OS X ‘Get Info’ window for the file selected in the Finder, I could see:

    Title: Rappahannock River
    Dimensions: 300 x 224
    Color Space: RGB
    Description: An investment in knowledge pays the best interest. — Benjamin Franklin
    Alpha channel: 0
    Headline: Rappahannock River, Fredericksburg, VA
    Where from: http://blogs.loc.gov/digitalpreservation/files/2011/10/river-300x224_a.jpg

    From the command line on Mac OS X using jhead, I could see:

    [11:28:32:~] jhead Desktop/river-300x224_a.jpg
    File name : Desktop/river-300x224_a.jpg
    File size : 70880 bytes
    File date : 2011:10:28 23:27:12
    Date/Time : 2011:10:27 09:04:21
    Resolution : 300 x 224
    Jpeg process : Progressive
    ======= IPTC data: =======
    Record vers. : 1996
    Caption : An investment in knowledge pays the best interest. — Benjamin Franklin
    Headline : Rappahannock River, Fredericksburg, VA
    Byline : Library of Congress
    Object Name : Rappahannock River

    So no mention of the Library of Congress in the ‘Get Info’ window.

    Amateur photographer.

  49. Dolores Barber
    October 29, 2011 at 8:08 am

    Yes. On my Mac, I right clicked to save image to desktop, then right clicked to get info. I’m an amateur.

  50. Jennifer W. Hanson
    October 29, 2011 at 12:13 pm

    1. Yes, I can see the quote, but the window with the info doesn’t allow scrolling horizontally, so I can’t read the whole thing.
    2. Preview, a simple image-viewing utility for Macs. I also tried iPhoto 5.0.4, which has more bells and whistles, but couldn’t see the quote or EXIF data after importing the image into iPhoto.
    3. Mainly amateur, but I’ve had photos published and have been paid for reproduction rights for one (so far). Semi-pro, I guess.
    Thanks for the interesting post!

  51. Sue Wise
    October 29, 2011 at 2:52 pm

    You ask us to contact our camera manufacturers…. Are any of them automatically recording metadata that the user may not be aware of? I am a general amature user and am looking to upgrade to a better model. If some cameras do record the metadata, how would I know?

  52. Shaula Stephenson
    October 29, 2011 at 5:42 pm

    I was able to see the quote using Windows Live Photo Gallery after making a special trip to properties > details. I am definitely an amateur photographer, but an archivist in training. Thank you for this very interesting article and experiment.

  53. Mike Ashenfelder
    October 29, 2011 at 10:24 pm

    Sue, to the best of my knowledge, digital cameras record technical information, such as date and time, and camera settings, such as aperture, shutter speed and light metering. Visit dpBestflow for more information.

  54. Peter Ledwon
    October 30, 2011 at 2:05 pm

    The following fields were accessible in Preview, Expression Media 2, Adobe Bridge and Lightroom 3 on a Mac: Headline, Title, Creator and Location.
    Although the Caption/Description field was available in all apps, the Ben Franklin quote was accessible in Preview, Bridge and Lightroom 3, but not in Expression Media, even after a manual re-sync.
    Expression Media, Bridge and Lightroom 3 additionally displayed all Contact details. Preview displayed only Artist info.

    I am a professional photographer.

  55. erwin
    October 31, 2011 at 8:39 am

    1. Yes
    2. Get Info (Finder – Mac OS X Lion)
    3. Amateur / Archivist

  56. Walker Sampson
    October 31, 2011 at 11:03 am

    1. Yes – but there wasn’t a horizontal scroll option so the “Franklin” was cut off.
    2. GNOME Image Viewer 3.2.0 – right-click, Properties.
    3. Amateur, Archivist

  57. Mike Ashenfelder
    October 31, 2011 at 11:05 am

    Thanks, Walker.

    We’re getting a terrific range of users responding to the challenge.

  58. Kelly Hamilton
    October 31, 2011 at 11:28 am

    1. No
    2. Microsoft Office Picture Manager (I don’t have nice photo editing software on work computer, unfortunately)
    3. Amateur photographer, but I certainly take enough and would love to be paid for it! Records management professional.

    I don’t think this program, even though you can make edits to the picture, does anything with metadata.

  59. Greg Reser
    October 31, 2011 at 11:34 am

    Great experiment, thanks for doing this.

    1) Yes, and all the other XMP metadata
    2) I tried the web-based data viewer and Dublin Core editor http://www.embedmydata.com/
    3) Amateur photographer, professional cataloger

  60. Ryan
    October 31, 2011 at 12:17 pm

    1. I can view everything in Preview (Mac), including the quote, but more importantly, I can search for “Benjamin Franklin” or text from the quote in my spotlight search and your image comes up. Yay.
    2. Preview 4.2
    3. amateur photographer, professional cataloger of images.

    [wanted to add a bit about this site:
    created by some students at Pratt. Allows average amateurs to view existing and add their own metadata with very little trouble. Problem, then, is that any added data isn't necessarily preserved from copy to copy. Someone could delete it all from their version. Its still pretty cool.]

  61. Mike Ashenfelder
    October 31, 2011 at 1:53 pm

    It’s very cool. Easy to use. Very well done.

    We still need an “Add Description” button on cameras though.

  62. Mary Hilliard
    October 31, 2011 at 2:19 pm

    I could see the quote using Windows Photoviewer. I could also see the name of the picture and the date taken. I am an amateur who has been pondering this exact question because I have been digitizing family photos – so want the same capability for photos I already have saved.

  63. Barb
    October 31, 2011 at 2:29 pm

    I downloaded the photo from Firefox to the desktop of my mac. Selected the photo went to the finder and chose get info. The quote was there. I am using Mac OS 10.5.8

  64. Cindy Frank
    October 31, 2011 at 3:01 pm

    Yes I cna see the quote
    Adobe Bridge
    Amatuer photographer, image curator by profession

  65. Malcolm
    November 1, 2011 at 11:41 am

    In Win7, right-click | Properties shows some metadata including the Franklin Quote. I can also see the EXIF and IPTC embedded metadata including geotagging and Franklin quote using Geosetter. Amateur photographer but IT professional.

  66. Tony Franks
    November 1, 2011 at 12:24 pm

    1) if you can see the quote
    Yes – Ben Franklin Invest in Knowledge

    2) which software or website you used to display the embedded information

    3) whether you are an amateur or professional photographer.

  67. Alice
    November 3, 2011 at 12:24 am

    1 – Yes, I see the quote.
    2 – I’m not sure what you are asking. (Sorry, I’m technology challenged.) I just saved the image to my MacBook Pro desktop and then right-clicked and selected “Get Info.” The pop-up shows the Ben Franklin quote next to “Description.”
    3 – Amateur.

    Additional comment: The pop-up info shows date & time the image was created as the time I saved the image to my desktop. Presumably accurating dating embedded on the image would be helpful for true archiving.

  68. Mike Ashenfelder
    November 3, 2011 at 8:30 am

    Alice, what you did for step 2 was perfect. I did ask about using software or websites as methods of seeing the description but I overlooked the simple “Get Info” step that you took.

    It should be that easy — selecting “Get Info” — to view photo descriptions on cameras, smart phones and any other medium that displays a digital photo. One step to enter a description; one step to view it.

  69. Winston Atkins
    November 3, 2011 at 9:39 am

    1: I could see the quote
    2: Downloaded image from Firefox to my desktop (Windows 7) and opened it with Windows Photo Browser. Quote appeared in the Details tab of File/Properties.
    3: Amateur.

  70. Alice
    November 3, 2011 at 2:36 pm

    Thanks, Mike.

    I applaud the effort to embed descriptions in digital photos, and agree that simple is the way to go!

    For key photos I’m saving, or photos I send to family & friends, I usually add date & description by changing the file name – from, say, “IMG_242.jpg” to something like: “2011_10_29 John Doe.jpg”. But I definitely would like to be able to add more to the description sometimes.

  71. Mike Ashenfelder
    November 4, 2011 at 9:00 am

    Thanks for writing, Alice. The file-naming method that you use is the same one that we recommend for archiving personal digital files. It helps when you try to pick out a file from a group of files and — depending on how you word it — it can help identify some key elements of the photo (e.g. “Tanya_graduation_1.jpeg”). Also, most photo software will display thumbnail samples of the photos, so you can identify them by appearance.

  72. Richard Wright
    November 4, 2011 at 11:39 am

    1) I could see the quote
    2) using IrfanView, my default JPG viewer – but I had to hunt a bit (maybe all of 30 secs)
    3) total amateur

  73. Alice
    November 4, 2011 at 12:08 pm

    Mike, I always include the date in the title because, for some maddening reason, not even the date of the image capture seems to permanently embed in the file. I’m not technologically astute enough to understand why this might be so, but I do find it quite frustrating!

    I understand your comment about thumbnails, but my primary motivation for file-naming relates to those times when you can *not* identify an image by it’s appearance. The digital equivalent of finding your beautiful river picture in a deceased grandmother’s collection and thinking…. “How lovely! Where is this, and when was the picture taken?”

    By the way, if you succeed in convincing camera manufacturers to include the Add Description feature, I hope they will add the same feature to scanners.

  74. Hamilton Library
    November 4, 2011 at 7:59 pm

    I can see the quote and all other info using the “EXIF” and “EXIFTool” functions within the “Information” box using Graphic Converter 7 on an intel iMac. Info is also visible in XMP function, but all run together so more difficult to decipher; amateur photographer, professional digitizer

  75. David Riecks
    November 6, 2011 at 11:02 pm


    Here’s one tool that might point the way to what is possible. BlueSLR has a “dongle” for sale that creates a link (via Bluetooth) between various smart phones and Nikon Cameras.


    If this wireless connection is open for use, then what would it take for the camera manufacturers to give access to modify the contents of a file that is then merged into the Exif (camera metadata) of an image at the time it’s created? At present that is what happens with a number of external GPS devices — they take the current single and push that information into the Exif milliseconds after the shutter is press and before the the file is written to the memory card.

    It might be at first that you have to write the info before you shoot (rather than after), but that’s a better situation than we have at present.


  76. Cindy Lewis
    November 7, 2011 at 6:03 pm

    Thank you for conducting thei survey.

    Image Fields visible to me through Preview are:


  77. Nancy
    November 8, 2011 at 10:33 pm

    1. Yes, can see all data.
    2. GraphicConverter 6.7 on OS X (10.6.8)
    3. Genealogist

    (Love the blog.)

  78. Guy Claessens
    November 9, 2011 at 6:23 am

    1) I see the quote
    2) as I have nothing handy on this laptop, I just looked at the file using a hex editor … :-)
    3) amateur

  79. Pauline Sinclair
    November 11, 2011 at 10:37 am

    1) I can see the quote in XnView for Windows Version 1.97.8 (via Edit -> Properties).

    2) On the IPTC tab the following information is listed:
    Object Name: Rappahannock River
    Byline: Library of Congress
    Headline: Rappahannock River, Fredericksburg, VA
    Caption: An investment in knowledge pays the best interest. — Benjamin Franklin

    While on the EXIF tab, the “Image description” field contains the quote and the “Artist” field is set to “Library of Congress”, but the location fields do not appear.

    3) Amateur

    I have a PC running Windows XP and I normally label my digital photos using Windows Explorer. In the properties window there’s a summary tab with “Title”, “Subject”, “Author”, “Keywords” and “Comments” fields. I normally put the description into the “Title” field. I can see this in XnView, where it appears in the EXIF tab of the properties box in a field labelled “XPTitle”. Unfortunately, it is not available when I upload the photos to either Facebook or Google’s Photo sharing site. I hope that the information will stay with the images, as I don’t want to have to relabel all my photos!

  80. Mike Ashenfelder
    November 14, 2011 at 10:38 am

    Pauline, what you describe in your last paragraph — how your descriptions get stripped out when you upload your file — is a bitter fact. One of our staff members, Barry Wheeler, wrote about that recently on http://1.usa.gov/s0Cllg. Until such issues are resolved, we all need to be aware that our carefully added descriptions may indeed get stripped out (and the image compressed) when we upload files to social-media and photo-hosting sites. But by all means, add descriptions to your original digital photos if you can, never upload those originals and protect your photo collection carefully.

  81. Didar
    November 18, 2011 at 7:40 am

    Yes, I can read it using Google Picasa. I am amateur.


  82. Andy Daddio
    November 28, 2011 at 11:25 am


    I can read the Franklin quote in the “Description” field in Adobe Photoshop CS5 and the “Description” field in Bridge CS5. When opening it in Photo Mechanic, the quote then appears in the “Caption” field. When I view the image in Adobe Lightroom 3.5 the quote appears in the “Caption” field in the “Default” Metadata panel, as well as the “Caption” fields in the “EXIF and IPTC” “Large Caption” “Minimal” and “Quick Description” Metadata panels. When I switch to the “IPTC” panel in Lightroom, then the quote is presented in the “Description” field. I am a professional photographer.

  83. Dave
    December 7, 2011 at 3:39 pm

    This site (and discussion) is a great find.

    What I’m curious about is a “mail-merge” application that can bulk edit IPTC or EXIF data in a gallery of JPGs.

    Commercial social galleries like Flickr use photometadata as captions and other content tags. Ideally we’d like to bulk edit (add) unique captions and certain keywords to each image, which would shorten the task of manually adding captions to each photo after uploading.

    Applications include commercial ecommerce companies with literally hundreds of product images *side-by-side* with an Excel spreadsheet filled with hundreds of unique keywords, descriptions and pseudo captions.

    Any ideas about how to do this?

  84. Hanneke
    December 8, 2011 at 8:49 am

    2. Opened it in Windows Explorer and in Microsoft Office 2010 (Picture Manager).
    1. In neither case could I see/find the quote.
    3. Amateur.

  85. Mike Ashenfelder
    December 8, 2011 at 10:53 am


    Professional photographers add photo metadata in batches all the time. I’ve watched our Library of Congress photographer tag batches quickly and easily. We are restricted from making software recommendations, so use your favorite search engine for terms like, “batch, photo, metadata” and such. I have not seen mail merge or spreadsheet mapping, but that may exist too.

  86. Claude Nozères
    January 4, 2012 at 9:12 am

    1) I usually can see the quote (depends on software)

    2) Software:

    Mac OS X Lion Finder. Get Info sees: title, description, headline. No Creator info.

    iPhoto 9.2.1 puts title and description (quote) up top – easy to see, but no Creator info?

    Mac OS X Preview 5.5.1 (Lion) sees all info in IPTC tab, including Creator. EXIF metadata is stripped.

    Media Pro 1.0.1 (newer version of Expression Media) sees IPTC annotations, but it is difficult to notice and read Description because the field is by default hidden at the bottom left panel. Curiously, I do not see Contact details here, but they are visible in Preview, unlike comment 54.

    3) amateur photographer (biologist)

    Other comments: it is confusing (= not common, but this is not to say it is wrong!) to use location information in both Title and Headline. Same with the insertion of a quotation in Description/Caption– might not be expected to find that there.

    Also, the location field is ‘intended’ for a place name, but you have inserted both a location and a state separated by a comma (which could lead to trouble with parsing when exporting?). More common is to put placenames as Keywords, or even better to use the the separate Location and State IPTC fields available in metadata editors.

    Often folks like/need to put in unique file ID, copyright information and a contact person and email, not just a creator address and URL. Easier to trace the origin of an image.

  87. Mark Fowler
    January 9, 2012 at 2:50 pm

    I see the “Benjamin Franklin” quote (and “Library of Congress” in the XPAuthor field) with the software called DF/Meta found at http://dftools.fwlr.com/DFMeta.aspx.

    I use DF/Tools to manage my library of 100,000+ images that span a century (including more than 11,000 scanned images and negatives). Easy to use for batch metadata settings and great for keywords.

    I am an amateur photographer.

  88. Paul Riecke
    January 13, 2012 at 12:26 pm

    I could read all of the data in Elements 9. I used to print digital photos in a photo lab setting. Some lab digital printers would allow a limited input (16 characters) for printing on the back of photos. It might be interesting if the machines could print the longer “description” metadata on the back of each print. Perhaps more people would print their digital photos.

    Some digital cameras have the availability of adding voice annotations for photos. Once quality universal voice recognition software becomes ubiqitous in cameras with small, powerful and cheap processors, then captions should be easy enough for everyone to add to their photos.

    Today it is easy to take several hundred digital photos at a short event that it seems overwhelming for the photographer to attempt annotating each and every frame. Not enough self-editing is done. Not every photo needs preservation.

  89. caroline
    January 20, 2012 at 8:42 am

    Doing research for my dissertation (on preservation of context when digital photoarchives are handed over to heritage-institutions like photomuseums) I got to this blog… and downloaded the photo…

    1) yes in the Description & Mobile SWF of
    2) Photoshop CS5
    3) professional photographer & archivist-to-be :)

    Here I have a link with great free software to name/rename:

    All the best,

  90. Nolene Sherman
    February 1, 2012 at 12:18 am

    Dragged photo from blog to Mac desktop. Searched Benjamin Franklin using spotlight … image was one of several items found. Was able to see the quote by CTRL-clicking on image and selecting Get Info. Quote appeared in the Description field.

  91. Peter Mason
    February 20, 2012 at 7:24 pm

    1. Yes I see the quote and other metadata.
    2. Windows 7 – saved image file to desktop. Selected and right click for Properties. Everything was visible. Did not use a separate application. Nice.
    3. Amateur Photographer, Engineer.

  92. cj madigan
    February 28, 2012 at 3:31 pm

    1. yes, I see the quote and other metadata
    2. Adobe Bridge CS3 as well as Apple’s Findedr–> Get Info panel
    3. professional digital archivist

    Love metadata and am surprised it’s not more widely used by photogs, museums & libraries

  93. Carol Bean
    February 29, 2012 at 8:06 am

    Ditto comment 91 for 1 and 2.

    3. Amateur Photographer, Librarian

    Although I typically process my photos using Bridge on Adobe 4, I don’t have that on this computer.

  94. Tom H
    May 20, 2012 at 4:25 pm

    Opened on a Mac both in Apple Preview and Photoshop…

    Saw the info and quote under Tools>Inspector>IPTC in Preview

    and under File>File Info>Description in Photoshop

  95. Mike Ashenfelder
    May 21, 2012 at 8:57 am

    Thank you all for your continuing responses. This information helps us a lot.

  96. Mary
    June 20, 2012 at 1:12 pm

    Thank you for this blog! I have been searching for months trying to figure out how to attach metadata so that others can read it, but haven’t been able to find much from others with the same issue. Our company does personal and corporate histories, so a lot of what we have to do is scan in physical photographs to be used in books/videos and we want to be able to add all that historical data so it stays with it for future use. I’ve tried Lightroom, Microsoft Pro Tools, PhotoShop Elements and Windows but can’t seem to get all the information I’ve added to be read from one program to another. It’s very frustrating when it seems like it should be so simple!

  97. Mike Ashenfelder
    June 20, 2012 at 1:13 pm

    Thanks for writing, Mary. You’re right. It should be simple and convenient.

  98. Art Taylor
    June 21, 2012 at 7:25 pm

    I have no problem viewing your description and the quote in Zoner Photo Studio Pro but neither Fast Stone Image Viewer nor ACDSee Pro 8.0 showed either piece of information. These are all Windows programs, used in Windows XP Media Center version.

    One possible reason for social media sites stripping EXIF and IPTC information from images uploaded to them is to protect the contributor’s privacy, since some camera phones include GPS data that can reveal an individual’s exact location. It’s probably easier for the sharing sites to just strip all EXIF and IPTC information than to try to strip only selected data fields, even though it is frustrating to spend the time adding descriptions and other data just to find it removed before one’s images appear on-line.

  99. Art Taylor
    June 21, 2012 at 7:29 pm

    Sorry, forgot to mention, I’m a serious amateur photographer, with a desire to be able to caption, describe an extensive collection of various photo types, glass plate negatives, various older print types (eg carte de visite), several formats of film negatives, and colour slide and negative formats.

  100. Mike Ashenfelder
    June 22, 2012 at 9:58 am

    Art, you might be correct. The metadata stripping by social media sites could be a deliberate privacy protection measure. Thanks for your suggestion and your comments.

  101. Steven Douglas Olson
    July 8, 2012 at 11:28 pm

    I see the comment in picasa, also in exiftool (command line) I see the same comment in two fields:
    Image Description

    I am looking for photo organizing software with the power of picasa, that stores the metadata in EXIF fields

  102. Marizel
    August 8, 2012 at 2:04 pm

    Sorry to come in late on this, but I agree it would be great if this were easier! I’ve been struggling to describe and upload some photos to Flickr, and tried this one as a test. This photo uploads and keeps the title and description nicely. (I can see them fine in Windows Photo Viewer too, by the way.) But when I try to enter these on my own photos, Flickr just duplicates the Title for both. I wonder if the quote is also contained in different field in this photo? It seems online services would need to be on board on which fields are looked at!

  103. Bruce Bush
    September 24, 2012 at 8:51 pm

    Another late-late response from an (3) amateur/intermed photog. using some less-common software under WinXP-SP3.
    Aside from ExifTool, most of my software shows NOTHING of image labels. (File Explorer, Media Player, ImageMagick display, Free LightBox,

    Sony’s PMB, an image manager probably similar to Flickr or Picasa, takes an interesting approach: when I add Labels to a picture in the PMB collection, the file explorer shows that the source .jpg file has been modified (or at least its modification date is changed), and a small new file is created in the same directory with extension .jpg.modd . This would be a reasonable “industry standard” assuming the operating system’s file manager always keeps the original file and its dependent descriptor files together. The PMB approach has the advantage that it can label read-only images on read-only media — no risk of corruption. It’s portable and extensible: doesn’t rely on the operating system file manager to support the label categories. I peeked inside the .modd file; it’s actually XML text (nice!) but with a proprietary touch — my label text has been encrypted somehow.

  104. David
    September 25, 2012 at 4:05 am

    I could partially see the quote (cropped due to the short window size) with Windows(7) photo viewer. Gimp advanced properties wouldn’t let me see it. On the other side, XnView offered the most comprehensive overview of the metadata through the file properties menu.


  105. Charles
    October 11, 2012 at 5:43 pm

    No quote in Windows Photo Gallery – first half of title text at bottom right outside the frame.

    Office Pictue Manager only shows the image – no text at all.

    Your “good camera” can’t really be very good if this is the same quality.


  106. Jim Stevens
    October 13, 2012 at 12:10 am

    As others have already stated, it is simple to read the metadata from the description field on a Mac in several ways – e.g. opening the image in Adobe Bridge or using the “get info” function. I would like to take this discussion one step further. I have thousands of photos on my computer that I have painstakingly organized and have edited in photoshop to add text to the “description” field in the metadata area. I like to view these photos in the “slideshow” format using any of several programs as a photo viewer (e.g. Bridge, Preview, or even Iphoto). Unfortunately, I have yet to discover an image viewer that will let me view the images so that they are displayed right along with the description on the monitor. Does anyone know of an image view that has this feature (preferably a free one :) )? If not, has any interest been shown in trying to incorporate this feature into an image viewer?

    I’m an amateur

  107. Jan
    October 19, 2012 at 12:56 pm

    I’m an amateur photographer but an avid asset collector of digital cultural heritage.
    Using Photoshop Elements 7 I can read Document Title: Rappahannock River Author: Library of Congress Caption: An investment in knowledge pays the best interest. –Benjamin Franklin made using Application: Adobe Photoshop CS4 Windows created and modified 10/27/2011 format image/jpeg. When you post a photo to a public page in Facebook it includes the copyright notice section of PSE. Enjoyed your blog.

  108. Mike Ashenfelder
    October 19, 2012 at 3:44 pm

    Jan, thanks for testing the photo and for the information about Facebook including the copyright notice section.

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