1 2 Previous Next 15 Replies Latest reply: Apr 19, 2013 11:04 AM by CactusTree
CactusTree Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

I’m having problems with captions written in Aperture not exporting to exported versions. If anyone has ideas, please post them. Also I would like to see if others are having this problem. Sorry about the long post.


I’m having a difficult problem with the inability to write captions in Aperture and have them saved in exported versions. This occurs only when the original master already has something in its caption. While in Aperture, everything looks fine, but upon exporting as a VERSION, the exported version will still show the previous caption that was in the original master and not the new caption from Aperture. This can be seen by looking at the information in Preview, Graphic Convertor (which shows the both the correct newer caption in the “IPTC caption abstract”, and the incorrect original caption in the IFDO Image description, XMP-dc and EXIF image title), or upon reimport to Aperture. When the newly exported version is reimported into Aperture, it will continue to show only the incorrect older caption. This will occur with photos from any camera.   Exported MASTERS with “include IPTC” checked will export correctly, unless the problem comes from a camera caption preset (see below).     Keywords and “most” other metadata do not seem to be affected (there are some issues with copyright and contact info).


It is easy to test: Import a photo into Aperture, add a caption to the photo in Aperture, and export it as a version. Then reimport the exported version, then change the caption to something different, and export it again as a version. Then open it in Preview and review the information (command-I), or reimport this photo into Aperture and look at the caption - it will continue to show the first caption, and it will not show the newer caption.


A related problem with somewhat different behavior occurs with several camera models which seem to have a preset caption in the metadata which is exported with their photos (many Canon models have many “empty spaces”, and several Olympus cameras  have “OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA”, and I believe some Nikons also have a similar issue). In these cases, the original master already has a “caption” (even if it appears blank), and even though you have added a caption in Aperture, upon exporting a version, the caption will retain the camera caption preset, and the caption written in Aperture is not visible.     This problem must be slightly different because if you export a Master (with IPTC) from these photos with a camera caption preset, the caption is still incorrect (ie empty spaces for the Canons and Nikons or the “OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA” for the Olympus cameras); whereas for photos with embedded captions in the originals (i.e. previously exported from Aperture),  then the exported MASTERS (with IPTC) will have the correct caption.


Both problems (ie the one with previous captions from any source in the original and the one with the camera preset captions) have surfaced since updating from Aperture 3.3.2 to subsequent versions, currently at version 3.4.3.  I have a Cannon PS-230 HS camera, which previously did not have any issues; but since updating from version 3.3.2, Aperture always reads the initial caption upon import as a series of about 20-30 empty spaces. When a new caption is written in Aperture, the “empty spaces” caption overrides the new written caption in all exported versions and exported masters. This is the very same photo without any changes and in the same Aperture Library which exported correctly with Aperture version 3.3.2.  The same behavior is noted in photos from 2 different cameras of the same type, so it is not a corruption in the metadata of one camera.  It must be something in the way Aperture reads and writes metadata.


I am able to avoid this problem with the camera presets if PRIOR TO IMPORT to Aperture I take the photos and use terminal and EXIF TOOL, and after changing directories to the location of those particular photos run the terminal command


exiftool -P -r -overwrite_original_in_place -m -EXIF:ImageDescription= (place file path here)


(I placed a previous post about 2 years ago with more details on how to do this, but notice that parts of the command are incorrectly underlined in that post; they should be as posted above. Here is the long winded link: Loss of Captions only in Olympus Camera photos  that might help a terminal neophyte like me).


I can then import them and they will behave normally (i.e. they will export a version with a new caption once only). However, once they have been imported to Aperture, this will not work unless you get the original masters, run the EXIF Tool script and then reimport them. You will then have to individually paste all metadata and adjustments to the reimported masters from the ones that you already worked on in Aperture.  Obviously not very practical if you have thousands of photos like this, and then you still have the problem of being able to add a caption to an exported version one time only.


Unfortunately, for some reason this doesn’t help the problem with originals that already have captions in them. I have tried over a hundred different ways of working around this without any luck, including using EXIF tool exiftool -P -r -overwrite_original_in_place -m -EXIF:ImageDescription= -XMP= /Current\ Aperture\ Photo\ Projects/FolderEXIFChange, Exif tool exiftool -iptc:all= -tagsfromfile @ -all:all -unsafe  ./ (I have no idea what that does, but previous posters have had some success with this), different import and export parameters, consolidated vs. referenced, repaired permissions and prefences, etc.  in all kinds of different orders and it still does not work.


The only thing that seems to kind of work is to export a Master “with IPTC” after changing the caption to the way you want it, then reimporting it and pasting all of the adjustments you made from the original in Aperture to the reimported photo. You will have to repeat the whole process any time you change the caption again in the future, but at least any exported versions will have the correct caption.    (Please notice that this will not work if you have one of the “camera preset caption” problem, and you will have fix that with the EXIF Tool as above first.)


This is a very poor solution for this problem. It must be possible for Apple to fix this problem as it was working well before the recent Aperture updates. If you have any ideas on other methods to get this to work, please post a comment!


This is a BIG problem for users, and if it becomes widespread could cause Aperture to lose credibility with users. It's very easy to not notice it until after you've written thousands of captions, and to then realize that it doesn't export is enough to make many people give up on the whole thing. I hope it has a solution soon.

iMac mid 2010 i7, Mac OS X (10.6.4)
  • 1. Re: Captions in Aperture not exporting to versions when original already has a caption
    léonie Level 9 Level 9 (51,665 points)

    I tried to reproduce your issue - and found that indeed the version does not export a modified caption.


    Even with the the command "Metadata > Write IPTC Metadata to Original" or "Metadata > Batch change" in combination with "Apply to original files" did I not succeed to export the caption of the versions.


    That looks buggy to me.




  • 2. Re: Captions in Aperture not exporting to versions when original already has a caption
    CactusTree Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    Thank you leonieDF,


    It helps to have the problem confirmed, especially as it involves wading through the very long post. I have placed a Bug report with Apple three times since October, so maybe they will recognize this and work on a fix.  Thanks again!

  • 3. Re: Captions in Aperture not exporting to versions when original already has a caption
    Frank Caggiano Level 7 Level 7 (23,815 points)

    I'm also seeing the same behavior.  For some reason there is a tickle in the back of my brain concerning this but for the life of me I can't figure out what it is but it sure sounds familiar.


    I'll try to search for this tomorrow to see if anything turns up.

  • 4. Re: Captions in Aperture not exporting to versions when original already has a caption
    Nigel Paterson1 Level 1 Level 1 (5 points)

    I just found your post after posting my question on the same topic.


    I think the problem is more a field-mapping bug, with Aperture exporting information from the Image Description field (which is non editable, and contains OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA if I'm not shooting with one of my Canon cameras) instead of the Caption field.


    To make matters worse, PhotoShop reads this export as 'Description' and Lightroom as 'Caption'.


    Currently I am exporting from Aperture and captioning in Lightroom, where I can get rid of OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA. Re-importing images back into Aperture displays the correct caption.



  • 5. Re: Captions in Aperture not exporting to versions when original already has a caption
    phosgraphis Level 2 Level 2 (295 points)

    Take a look at this thread:

    Exports Don't Include IPTC/Copyright Info


    What you are seeing might be related, especially the part about IPTC info not showing up in Preview (and others) but showing OK in Photomechanic (and others). Will test it with your situation when time permits.

  • 6. Re: Captions in Aperture not exporting to versions when original already has a caption
    David Strait Level 2 Level 2 (175 points)

    I have the same issue..... Years ago, I added caption information from thousands of older (pre-2006) scanned JPEG photos using PhotoShop and imported them in Aperture in 2006. Recently, I have edited the captions of these old photos extensively in Aperture. On export, the photos only include the old captions and none of the new edited caption information. I first noticed that only the old caption data was exported when I uploaded the photos to a SmugMug gallery and the edited caption data was missing. I then looked in the "Preview" inspector and found that only the old caption data was listed in the IPTC data. I then used "Get Info" from the Finder and again saw the old caption data was listed under "description."


    I searched every metadata field available in Aperture (EXIF, IPTC, Aperture, Custom, etc) and I can not find where the old caption data is stored (interesting that you found that Graphic Converter displays both old and new captions). Only the newly edited caption data is shown. I can see no way to change the caption info from these older files. Newly scanned photos (with no previous caption data) are OK and I can edit the caption data in those files with no problem. This is (by far) the biggest issue I have had with Aperture. I would consider switching to Lightroom (which also has direct export to SmugMug - a feature I've requested) , but I can't even export the metadata for thousands of photos to another application!


    I gave feedback to Apple, but I am very disappointed to hear you have had this problem for years with no respose from Apple.


    This is a HUGE issue for me!

  • 7. Re: Captions in Aperture not exporting to versions when original already has a caption
    CactusTree Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    Sorry to hear about your problem.


    I have found one ....partial (as in "sometimes")....solution.

    1. Select a few photos, and under the Metadata menu go to "Write IPTC Metadata to Original".

    2. (important step, as silly as it seems, it never seems to work without it) - Then deselect the photos (I will ususally select some other photos and sometimes I even will quit Aperture and start it up again).

    3. Then re-select the photos you are interested in and try exporting them. Once they are exported, look at the metadata in Preview to make sure the new caption is there.


    This only seems to work about half the time for me - I have no idea why or what changes; sometimes I have the idea that if other programs are running or the caches are full it doesn't work, whereas if I do it shortly after opening Aperture without much else going on it seems to work. I can use the same batch of photos from the same camera in the same library, and one day it will work and not the next, so you have to be careful not to assume that it is always working.


    If that doesn't work, you can try the solution in the third to the last paragraph in the original post - not very practical for thousands of photos, but it will work for a few. You might be able to build an Apple Script to run it on the whole pack, but I don't know how you'd do that.


    Apple asked me to send them information about the problem a while back, so I'm keeping my fingers crossed that someday in one of the Aperutre updates they will fix the captions and copyright info problem.


    Hope this help!  Best of luck.

  • 8. Re: Captions in Aperture not exporting to versions when original already has a caption
    David Strait Level 2 Level 2 (175 points)

    Cactus Tree,

    Thanks for your suggestion! I also found out the following:


    I downloaded GraphicConverter (free trial version 8.5.3) to inspect metadata fields not visible in Aperture. For an OLD photo that had a caption before importing into Aperture, I found the OLD caption listed in these locations:

    1) the EXFI tab as IFD0 data field: "Image title"

    2) under the EXFITool tab as IFD0 data field: "Image Description"

    3) under the EXFITool tab as XMP-dc data field: "Description"

    4) under the XMP tab


    The NEW caption (for the OLD edited photo) was listed ONLY under:

    1) the EXFITool tab as IPTC data field: "Caption-Abstract."


    For an OLD photo that had a caption before importing into Aperture AND I never edited the caption, I found the OLD caption listed in these locations:

    1) the EXFI tab as IFD0 data field: "Image title"

    2) under the EXFITool tab as IFD0 data field: "Image Description"

    3) under the EXFITool tab as XMP-dc data field: "Description"

    4) under the XMP tab

    5) the EXFITool tab as IPTC data field: "Caption-Abstract." (where the NEW caption was listed above)


    This indicates photos imported with OLD caption info include captions in IPTC, EXFI and IFD0 data fields.


    I also completed a search of the OLD caption in Aperture and it found the correct photo even though the caption does not show up in any "visible" data field in Aperture (interesting!).


    For a "NEW" photo that never had a caption before importing into Aperture, the caption is listed in these locations:

    1) the EXFITool tab as IPTC data field: "Caption-Abstract." (same as NEW caption above)

    2) under the EXFITool tab as XMP-dc data field: "Description"(same as OLD caption above)

    3) under the XMP tab (same as OLD caption above)


    Its is NOT listed

    1) under the EXFITool tab as IFD0 data field: "Image Description" (where OLD caption was listed above)


    This all seems to indicate that OLD caption data is over-written in the IPTC data field when the caption is edited in Aperture, but somehow doesn't over-write the OLD captions in the XMP data fields (even though NEW captions write in those fields).  Aperture doesn't seem to use the IFD0 datasets at all for caption info.


    FINALLY, I tried your suggestion (Write IPTC to original) and found out the NEW caption writes into ALL the data fields (IPTC, XMP and IFD0), just like an OLD photo with OLD captions that weren't edited (i.e. it writes to the IFD0 field that isn't normally written to when adding captions in Aperture. Weird.


    This seems like it should be a simple fix (for Apple)…… but what do I know?


    Thanks again for your suggestion.



  • 9. Re: Captions in Aperture not exporting to versions when original already has a caption
    CactusTree Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    I'm glad this helped.  Don't forget to keep your eye on it though - it doesn't always work, and you can put yourself in some unexpected situations if you assume it's always working correctly. And if you change the captions again in the future you stillhave to do the same process over.   Thanks for the message.

  • 10. Re: Captions in Aperture not exporting to versions when original already has a caption
    David Strait Level 2 Level 2 (175 points)

    This just gets worse.


    I used your suggestion to write IPTC metadata to the originals and it worked OK… once. The second time I tried it caused Aperture to crash and it replaced the caption information with 11 blank spaces (the captions appeared empty, but actually had 11 spaces). I attempted to fix the library with 1) repair permissions, 2) Repair database and 3) Rebuild database. None of these recovered my lost captions so I had to restore my entire Aperture Library from a vault.


    Not all photos I wrote the meta data to lost the captions, so I wasn't really sure if this was the cause of the problem. Since I have no other option to export photos with captions, I (stupidly) tried it again with exactly the same result. The first selection worked fine and the second attempt crashed Aperture and I lost the captions again. I skipped all the repairs and I am currently restring my library again from the vault.


    Apparently you haven't experienced this problem, but I caution you (and others) against using "write metadata to originals."



  • 11. Re: Captions in Aperture not exporting to versions when original already has a caption
    CactusTree Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    Hi Dave,


    Sorry to hear about your problems. I also have noticed that the "Write IPTC Metadata to Masters" seems to work once, but not again; fortunately without crashes for me though. I have a few ideas, but all of them are only partial - potential remedies.  If you can, be sure and keep a copy of your previous Vaults or Libraries (i.e. the ones from before writing IPTC metadata to Originals if you still have one) and the unchanged photo masters.   Here are the ideas:


    1) the fact that you are somehow getting "11 empty spaces" in the captions after the crash makes me think that the original masters may have the equivalent of one of the camera preset captions in them. To fix this, a copy of the original masters need to go through the EXIF Tool commands in terminal (see paragraphs 4-8 in the original post and the link there - you may need to use the command that removes both EXIF description and XMP, but you may loss some other data, in my case the lens information). They then are reimported into Aperture and any adjustments and metadata pasted to the new imports from the already exisiting ones in Aperture with the "Lift adjustments and metadata" command. This is quite a project and not very practical for a large number of photos, although you might be able to write an AppleScript to do it easier if you have many thousands of photos and really need to export versions now (I don't know how to do that well).  For some reason, if these camera caption presets (in your case "11 empty spaces") are present in the original masters, the next idea doesn't work -


    2) try exporting a master "with IPTC", and then reimport the master and paste any adjustments (with the "lift adjustments" command) to the new photos from the old copy in Aperture. (You can select only those photos that have adjustments in the filter box - makes it much quicker. You will also need to keep tract of which are the old copies and which are the new imports - they'll look the same from within Aperture). See paragraph 11 in the original post. This always works for me, provided there are no "camera captions presets" as above.   Remember that if you change the caption again, it won't export properly, but you can export a version if you don't change the caption again.


    3) I suspect that part of the problem you are facing is that after the crash, you restored a previous library that does not completely recognize the newly changed (the updated IPTC) masters. I think that if Aperture realizes that something in the master that has somehow changed from outside of the program, it resamples it and changes the IPTC in Aperture to that which is in the original master.


    This might be a major problem for you if you do not have an older copy of the Aperture Library and Masters, because as soon as you scroll over the affected photos, Aperture will usually "update" the IPTC from the original photo and use it to replace the captions you've written. I haven't found a way to get your edited captions back in this situation, although you could run a test of taking copies of some of the originals and running it through the EXIF tool and terminal commands as above and see if your edited captions aren't in there somewhere.   (You could also look at the originals in Graphic Convertor - your edited captions might still be in the IPTC caption, in which case there is hope of recovering them after removing the EXIF descriptions, sometimes the XMP needs to be removed also).  It sounds like only some of your photos have the "empty spaces - camera preset" problem, so maybe the other photos now have your edited captions in the IPTC of the original Master.


    4) Just my guess, but I suspect that the cause of your crashes may be that too many photos had the masters modified with the "Update IPTC to Masters" at once. I used to change the GPS in the masters with another Aperture plugin in years past, and I always noticed that Aperture could handle a small number of changes to the masters (working from within Aperture, not outside of it) without changing the captions/IPTC, but if the number exceded somewhere between 60-200 photos, it would seem to forget that it had changed the masters and lose the captions I had written. It seemed to need a small amount of time (and scrolling over the changed photos) before doing another batch and then things would work well. I would also quit Aperture once in a while - maybe after 2-3 batches.


    5) My final idea - the one I'm using currently - is just wait. I am afraid this won't help with the captions that have already been lost though, and if the ideas above don't work, you might have to rewrite them. Hopefully someday Apple and Aperture will figure this out and fix it. It seems they had it all working pretty well (except for the copyright and contact information - a very similar situation) prior to the Aperture 3.4 update, and like you say, it doesn't seem like it should be that complicated.  Don't forget to send a Bug report to Aperture.


    I know how frustrating this is - once you get a process down and go through some painful days of repairing the damage (and especially the "camera captions presets"), it all gets back to normal.


    If you have more questions, I'll try to help - I've been through this silly problem for more days of my life than I care to remember.


    Best of luck - I hope it works out.

  • 12. Re: Captions in Aperture not exporting to versions when original already has a caption
    David Strait Level 2 Level 2 (175 points)

    I greatly appreciate your thoughts on this. I have a few comments based on my attempts to fix this issue.


    1) I get the 11 empty spaces with either one of several cameras, plus on scanned images so It doesn't appear to be related to camera preset issue discussed elsewhere.


    2) I may consider exporting the Master as you described (as a last resort). I have thousands of photos with the problem and this will take quite a bit of time.


    3) Not sure if I fully understand this point. I restored the library from a vault that was updated a few days ago, thus it contains the old photos with the old and newly edited captions (The new captions are the only ones visible in Aperture). I think I would prefer to attempt #2 (export, then re-import) if it comes to that.


    4) You may be correct about the crash. The first time I wrote the IPTC data to original, I selected ~5000 photos (it did not crash at that point). First, I exported ~ 100 photos (and it worked properly with updated captions), then I exported the next ~100 photos (when it crashed and caused the "11 space" issue). Oddly, the "11 space" issue impacted not only the 100 photos I exported, but hundreds of others I did not export (but did write the IPTC data to). The second time (after restoring the library from the vault),  I only wrote the IPTC to ~100 photos. I successfully exported ~ 50 photos (with updated captions), but the next 50 I exported crashed Aperture and resulted in the "11 space issue" in ~ 200 photos. This is so flakey I am never going to attempt this again!


    btw - I have all my edited captions after restoring the library…. I haven't lost them.


    5) I am also going to wait on Apple for a fix. I have sent them feedback three time on this issue so far (including the separate, but possibly related "11 space" issue after writing the IPTC metadata to original.


    As a last resort, I may try your #2 suggestion. At least the problem shouldn't come up again after I fix all my old photos.


    Thanks again,


  • 13. Re: Captions in Aperture not exporting to versions when original already has a caption
    CactusTree Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    David - I'm glad to hear you still have your captions! That's a relief. Don't discard or update your old vault though until you're really sure things are all stable and working well - make a new one instead, you might still need it.


    A few thoughts -


    If you export the Masters "with IPTC" and don't see the correct captions, I would guess that somehow you've gotten a "preset" put in some field somewhere that is overriding your captions, and I would run a trial with a few COPIES of the affected photos with the EXIF tool commands in Terminal to see if that changes things. For me, if there was something there, it didn't seem to matter what I did, nothing would work until I fixed that first. Graphic Convertor helped me figure what fields were messing things up. Your problem might be something different though.


    I would try scrolling over your photos in grid view, and check to make sure that they don't start "updating from the masters" and changing your captions to the empty spaces again. I find that sometimes everything looks like it's fine until I scroll through the photos, and then they start reprocessing the information from the original and changing the captions and sometimes the keywords and other IPTC if they've been changed.   (I'm guessing that that's what caused your crash the second time - it was trying to update the IPTC from the masters at the same time as exporting. It *might* have worked if you had scrolled over the photos and allowed Aperture to get everything in order before trying to export. I think Aperture has a problem realizing that the new information in the masters is what it put in itself once it passes a certain number of photos.)


    Best of luck!

  • 14. Re: Captions in Aperture not exporting to versions when original already has a caption
    David Strait Level 2 Level 2 (175 points)


    I just tried to export captions with 3.4.4. I think it is working correctly now!


    Caveat: I just tried one photo before going to bed. Is it working for you now?



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