• Anne Alagna

Metadata, what it is and how you can make it work for you

Updated: Feb 15


This is a graphic with 3 half ovals. In title print it asks What is Metadata? And What can it do for you?  In normal print it states that Metadata is a description that can make your photo more searchable.
What is Metadata and what can it do for you?

Metadata is a description that can make your photo more searchable. Some components of this are automatically recorded by your digital camera or phone and stay with the image for its entire lifetime. This can include height and width in pixels, location, time and date, camera type, and shutter settings.


Because this information is readable by search engines, photographers use this to list content, licensing and copyrights, and their contact information. This information can also be used for SEO purposes.


But you don’t have to be a professional to take advantage of the searchability of metadata.


You can also manually record information to your photo! You can use it to add events, names, addresses, descriptive information about the image, keywords, titles, and captions. This information will then be searchable by your computer and will stay with your photo throughout its lifetime.*


*except for specific websites and cloud programs (like Google Photos and Facebook) that may strip all data from the photograph upon download. Always read the fine print to determine whether your data will stay intact and be usable within these sites.




How can you see what information is already on your photo?


The metadata that is automatically written to the photo by your camera and phone can be easily read on your computer without any additional software.


To find this information on Windows:

  1. From your folder, right-click on a photo and select PROPERTIES

  2. Select DETAILS

Here you can see all the information written to the photo by your camera or phone. You also have the option to delete any personal information before sharing the photo online.





To find this information on Mac:

  1. Open the photo with PREVIEW

  2. Select TOOL and SHOW INSPECTOR

  3. Click the INFORMATION ICON from the menu bar. This will show you all the information written by your camera or phone.


How to add to this information


My favorite free software for adding information to my photos in Adobe Bridge. Adobe Bridge is a free digital asset management app. Not only does it write directly to the photo, but it is a helpful software for reviewing and selecting photos for your photo projects.


How to use Adobe Bridge for adding metadata:

  1. Download and install Adobe Bridge

  2. Open Bridge and Right-click to add the KEYWORDS panel

  3. You can also add the METADATA panel, but I only use this one if I need to change the date that automatically came from the camera.

  4. Select multiple photos to which you wish to add information

  5. Add Keywords to the list and check the corresponding boxes



How to add information on Windows:

  1. From your folder, right-click on a photo and select PROPERTIES

  2. Select DETAILS

  3. You can add a Title, Subject, Tags, Comments, and a Star Rating.


How to add information on Mac:

  1. From the Photos app, right-click on a photo and select the INFORMATION ICON from the menu bar.

  2. Click the ADD A TITLE section or the ADD A DESCRIPTION section to update.


More information about metadata for photos:

Finding photo metadata: A guide for the rest of us

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