Exiftool – sorting photos

I recently had a few days off and managed to sort out the growing collection of photographs accumulating on my hard drive. The collection is almost 150GB with 52000+ image and video files spanning 10 years. I have used a variety of photo management tools over the years including Canon software that came with the camera, FSpot, gThumb, iPhoto and Digikam (the tool of choice). The resulting mess of nested folders and sub-folders demanded some TLC. Thankfully I had a couple of backups on different disks as well as two live working copies so I was safe in case I messed up.

Enter exiftool. A command line tool to manage all aspects of your photo metadata.

I copied my collection to a scratch processing space year by year and processed them in chunks using a single line of exiftool wizardry:

exiftool -r -d ../output/%Y_%m/%Y-%m-%d_%H-%M-%S_%%f.%%e "-filename<datetimeoriginal" input

This command recurses (-r) through the input directory finding all supported image and video files. It moves the files to the output folder, creating a YEAR_MONTH sub-folder (%Y_%m) using the original creation date of the file to be moved. The creation date and time (%Y-%m-%d_%H-%M-%S) is prefixed to the original filename (%%f.%%e). For each year of photos I end up with 12 folders (2005_01, 2005_02, etc.) containing all the nicely sorted photos.

Exiftool also reports errors and files it is unable to process and these remain in the input folders after processing making it simple to manually check through them.  I also had some success with the remnants using the Last Modified Date.

exiftool -r -d ../output/%Y_%m/%Y-%m-%d_%H-%M-%S_%%f.%%e "-filename<filemodifydate" input

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