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Easily Adding Metadata to Your Images

Last updated Mar 14, 2003.

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Just so we’re all starting on the same page here, let me explain that metadata is information (such as copyright, caption, keywords, URL, etc.) about your images or photos. However, it’s not stored as part of the visible image or photo like a watermark. Instead, this information is stored within the file itself. So whenever you exchange this file with someone else, you can rest assured that your metadata goes along with it. Most modern graphics programs can display metadata, and some can even use it to help you organize your images. Let’s take a look at how to enter metadata.

STEP ONE: Find a photo from a group of photos to which you’d like to add your copyright and contact information. Then open this file in Photoshop by choosing File > Open.

Figure 1

Step 1 Opening a file in Photoshop

STEP TWO: Next, choose File > File Info. This will open, you guessed it, the File Info dialog box where you can add the metadata.

Figure 2

Step 2 The File Info dialog box

STEP THREE: As you can see, there are lots of types of information (metadata) that you can enter. In the center are the main ones we’re going to concentrate on in this example, but you can see on the left side that there are many categories of file information that can be added to an image.

Figure 3

Step 3 Various file info fields available for an image

STEP FOUR: First, let’s start with the contact information. Enter your name in the Author textbox, your title if needed, and a description or caption of this image.

Figure 4

Step 4 Entering in some basic contact information

STEP FIVE: Next, select the IPTC Contact item on the left side. The International Press Telecommunications Council has established an information standard to identify transmitted text and images. Enter your full contact information including address, city, state, phone, and email address.

Figure 5

Step 5 Entering more specific contact information

STEP SIX: Select the Description item on the top left to go back to the default screen once again. Now enter any copyright information that you’d like stored with this image as well as the URL for your Web site where people can find out about you or this particular image.

Figure 6

Step 6 Entering copyright information for your images

STEP SEVEN: When you’re done, click the small right facing arrow at the top right of the dialog and choose Save Metadata Template. This will open a small dialog asking you to name your template. Now, if you’re like me, you may be tempted to name it "Template 1" or something equally vague. Don’t do it. Give it a descriptive name so that when you come up with more templates in the future you’ll be able to tell them apart. Click OK when you’re done.

Figure 7

Step 7 Saving your own custom template

Okay, now that you’ve entered the metadata for one image, you can see how it’d be tedious to reenter this metadata for multiple images, especially if you have hundreds of similar images. Well fear not, because it’s really easy to use the template to apply the metadata to other images.

STEP EIGHT: First, open Adobe Bridge by choosing File > Browse. When Bridge opens, navigate to a folder of photos or images to which you’d like to add the same copyright and contact information.

Figure 8

Step 8 A folder of images to which you’d like to add the same copyright and contact information

STEP NINE: Select those images by clicking on them (or Shift-clicking to select multiple). Then choose Tools > Append Metadata > "YourTemplateName" (the one you just created).

Figure 9

Step 9 Applying the same template to all of your images at once

STEP TEN: Now, select an image in the browser area and choose File > File Info. You should see that the template’s metadata has been applied. Pretty slick huh?

Figure 10

Step 10 Verifying the metadata has indeed been changed

As I mentioned earlier, metadata information is embedded into your files, not on top of the images. The casual user will never see it, but it’s there in the file if ever you need to verify copyright. Now you have the time to go on editing your photos instead of wasting a bunch of time typing in repetitive information.