14 Replies Latest reply: Feb 18, 2008 12:49 PM by martian687
gocep Level 1 Level 1 (10 points)
I am trying to find a way to configure (if possible) finder to show the date and time when a picture was taken.
Currently the only way to get that information is going in Preview -> Tools -> Inspector etc. - this is way too many clicks to get to something that in Windows and Linux for example is just mouse over the image.

Any plug in, script or anything that would help me?

Thanks in advance!

MacBook Pro, Mac OS X (10.5.1)
  • B1gW7q Level 1 Level 1 (30 points)
    In all the Mac OS I'm familiar with (thru 10.3.9), the creation date is shown in the file's Get Info window.

    If that's too many clicks to check a large number of pics at once, an AppleScript might be helpful. I believe the command would be something like this:

    tell application "Finder"
    set datelist to {}
    set thesefiles to the selection
    repeat with i from 1 to the count of thesefiles
    set filename to the name of item i of thesefiles
    set filedate to the creation date of item i of thesefiles
    set datelist to datelist & filename & filedate & return
    end repeat
    get datelist
    end tell

    Then you click on one of the picture files you want to check, command-click on the rest, and run the script. When it stops, the Results window should show the list.

    Any AppleScript gurus out there want to verify/correct/improve this for us?
  • Francine Schwieder Level 6 Level 6 (19,040 points)
    Why not just put the folder into List view, and in the View menu go to Show View Options and make sure there is a check mark for the Date Created column?

  • gocep Level 1 Level 1 (10 points)
    Looks like I didn't explain well enough what exactly I am after...

    I am after *the date when the picture was taken*, not the date when that image/file was created on my hard drive.
    This inforamtion is stored in the file's meta data (In 'Preview->Tools->Inspector' shows under EXIF and TIFF tab)

    For example: I have a picture take on the 24-January-2007, in finder 'Date Created' says 30-September-2007.
    The reason for this could be that this picture has been moved from camera -> PC -> NAS -> MacBook, or whatever reason...
  • R C-R Level 6 Level 6 (16,745 points)
    I don't believe there is any way to get Finder to show this or any other EXIF type metadata aside from in an Inspector or "Get Info" window. I suppose Apple's thinking is that there is so much possible file metadata that it would be overwhelming to provide list column options for it all in Finder's "View Options" or display it all in Finder windows.

    However, I think it would be useful to provide for this, not just for image metadata but for essentially all the metadata types Inspector can display, even though it might involve a lot of scrolling. Why not send Apple feedback about this?
  • B1gW7q Level 1 Level 1 (30 points)
    Sorry to belabor you with my one-track mind, but is AppleScript capable of calling up this metadata stuff?
  • R C-R Level 6 Level 6 (16,745 points)
    There should be: The "Image Events" application includes in its 'image suite' a 'metadata tag' object capable of retrieving the description, name, & value of embedded EXIF, IPDC, etc. metadata in a file.

    I've only played with this a bit but it appears you have to open the file in Image Events ("tell app Image Events to open {file reference}"), then specify which image (because there could be more than 1 in the file), then specify the metadata tag or tags you want before you can get the values. Image Events is a faceless app (no Finder window or Dock presence) so you won't see any indication that it has done this outside of the script results.

    In my experiments, I had the script close the image after it retrieved its info; I assume this is good practice. A practical script would need a lot of checking to make sure the image & the requested metadata exists, a suitable output form, & a convenient way to trigger running it. Folder Actions, the script menu, AppleScript Studio, etc. should provide this. You also might want to consider having the script run shell command equivalents to improve its speed, especially if you plan on processing a large number of files.

    For more detailed help with this, you probably should seek advice in the AppleScript forum here in Discussions (in the technology section) or at one of the many sites devoted to it.
  • Francine Schwieder Level 6 Level 6 (19,040 points)
    There used to be a Contextual Menu item that photographer's were very fond of called PhotoToolCM, however it has not been updated in YEARS, and is PPC only. There is small open source program called "Exif Viewer" which is open source, and thus free:


    Keep it in your Dock, drop a JPEG image on it, and it displays a large thumb of the JPEG and all the EXIF data for the image. However, it only works with JPEGS.

    I use the mdls (metadata list) command in Terminal when I want to see the metadata: type mdls, a space, and drop the file into the Terminal window and hit return. All the metadata, including the EXIF stuff that Spotlight indexes, will be displayed.

    You might consider an image browser, such as CocoViewX:


    You can open an info window and display the EXIF data for each image as you browse thru the folder of images.

    There is definitely a place here for someone to write a little metadata program, which shouldn't be all that hard to do. Unfortunately it looks like no one has done that yet. By all means tell Apple what you want.

  • B1gW7q Level 1 Level 1 (30 points)
    I'm still hoping to find someone who can tell me how to write a script to retrieve the metadata dates for your pictures, but don't hold your breath.

    In the meantime, you only need to get the date manually for each picture just once. As soon as you have it, you can write it in the Comment panel in the file's information window.

    Write the year, month, and day (and hour, minute, and second if you want them) in the format:


    Dates written this way, and entered as the first "word" in the comment, will be "alphabetized" in chronological order in a folder set to List view, so you can sort them from oldest to newest or vice versa.
  • gocep Level 1 Level 1 (10 points)
    Thanks guys, you where all very helpful, however my problem has not been solved, so I will continue looking for a solution and if (when) I find one I will post it here.

    One question to Apple (if anyone from there is reading this):
    Opening 'Get Info' and under 'more Info' I can see info such as Device model, Device make (which is already included in the first one), Color space etc; How is this more important than the Date/time when the picture was taken/digitized and also the Lat/Long coordinates?
    I believe for ordinary user (I mean not professional photographer) this info is more useful than the one currently available. As for the professionals - I'm sure they have way more advanced tools to show them all the meta data available (Aperture?).

    Message was edited by: gocep
  • B1gW7q Level 1 Level 1 (30 points)
    You've got a case, all right. But it's hit-or-miss whether anybody from Apple will see it in a discussions posting. Best to go to the Support pages and find a feedback pane to write it in.

    Please post when/if you find your solution.
  • R C-R Level 6 Level 6 (16,745 points)
    Of perhaps some interest (but no help), as I played a bit more with the script method of retrieving image metadata that I mentioned in an earlier post, I noticed that not all the metadata visible in the "Get Info" panel is retrieved by the script method ... & visa versa.

    Some of the metadata appears to be imbedded in the file, some in extended attributes in the file system, & some (I think) in both. Spotlight seems to grab all of it, so the most promising way of extracting it is probably with the 'mdls' shell command. I suspect it would not be too hard to create an app to do this, even by amateurs using AppleScript Studio, but it would not be so easy to integrate it into the Finder.

    BTW, I think the reason Apple chose the "Get Info" metadata it did is it is what is most likely to be supplied by cameras. For example, few cameras have provisions for geographic location detection. Some do not even supply date/time taken in a standard format, believe it or not.
  • Timbo72 Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    I've been playing around with metadata using the Image Events application and AppleScript, I'm trying to write a script to re-size photos to fit more on my digital photo frame. I also want to rename the files to a standard because I've used various different digital cameras over the years and they all have their own way of uniquely saving the photos.

    Anyway, here is a quite script I wrote to find the metadata I need to use:

    property openTypes : {"PDF", "com.adobe.pdf", "BMP", "com.microsoft.bmp", "JPEG", "JPEG2", "jpg", "public.jpeg", "PICT", "com.apple.pict", "PNG", "public.png", "PSD", "com.adobe.photoshop-image", "TIFF", "public.tiff"}

    set theFile to choose file with prompt "Choose file" of type openTypes without invisibles

    tell application "Image Events"
    set imageFile to (open theFile)
    repeat with currenttag in metadata tag of imageFile
    set current_name to name of currenttag
    set current_value to value of currenttag
    log current_name & " - " & current_value as string
    on error error_message number error_number
    log error_message
    end try
    end repeat
    end tell

    The 4th metadata item is "creation" and it's value is the date and time the photo was taken. This might be what you are after. I'm a novice with AppleScript so I have no idea how you could incorporate this into Finder.
  • B1gW7q Level 1 Level 1 (30 points)
    If you're a "novice", what am I??

    As I understand gocep's question, he wants to be able to hover the mouse over the open picture and have the data show up in a balloon or something. I believe System Events has a suite of mouse controls but have never tried to work with it. I doubt he'd care whether it's in Finder or Preview or what, as long as he gets the result he wants.
  • martian687 Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
    Hey, I was wondering if you had posted this question to a Support team? I stumbled across this post while looking for answers to the exact same question...why is it that I can view every mundane detail about my camera in Finder, except the date the picture was taken??? Also, I'm not sure about you, but Finder's Inspector won't show me the date the picture was taken -- I have to launch iPhoto go get that info.

    Anyway, this has been driving me crazy for the past three days, so much so that I made an appointment at the Genius Bar tonight so I can go complain in person.

    Message was edited by: martian687