EXIF and Mac Annoyances

After spotting Pheed, I went back to my photo album and started tweaking. As usual, tweaking soon progressed to a mild case of "two-point-oh syndrome", with a substantial code rewrite (mostly optimizations and layout tweaks, but polished tweaks).

However, two things still elude me: a nice, clean solution for time-based navigation (I just might do it in Flash this time) and captioning.

You see, adding a photo caption with EXIF is a trivial endeavour - there's even a Comments field for that purpose (purists will - quite correctly - say that the field is part of the base JPEG spec, but I'm using EXIF for other things and like my code neat and simple).

But using jhead to add comments to images feels somewhat archaic (jhead -ce <filename> is tiresome and error-prone), so I started looking around for simple, neat (and preferably built-in) ways to add EXIF comments to photos in Mac OS X.

Now, I would expect the Finder to at least show as much information as Windows, but as a photo management tool it less than useless. It does not display EXIF tags, and file comments added with Cmd-I are added to the file meta-info (at least XP makes an effort to display and manipulate EXIF).

But the way iPhoto deals with EXIF is inexcusable. Version 2 (which is what I have) only displays a subset of EXIF info - and does nothing with that information whatsoever, which - for a photo management tool, is pretty damn stupid. Sure, I know as well as anybody that it is a consumer photo management tool, and that consumers regard EXIF as a curiosity at best (even if they do know what it is).

I have a vague recollection of ranting about this a few months back, but so far I have not come across any simple, practical and zero-footprint solution.

Oh well.