Metadata Tags for Photos (Windows XP)

Have you ever wanted a better way to organize your digital photos? If you use Windows XP you should consider using metadata tags.

What is Metadata and How Does It Get There?

Think of metadata as “data about data,” meaning data such as file size, file name, file type, etc. The easiest way to see metadata for a file in Windows XP is to use Windows Explorer (which lists your files NOT Internet Explorer which is a web browser) and right-click over the file name, then select Properties.

XP Photo Metadata 01

In the example above, on the General tab, basic data such as File Size, File Type, etc. are shown.

These fields represent basic metadata that are embedded with the file when it is created. Also, when you use a digital camera, the metadata is written to the file and is populated when you connect the camera to the PC or laptop and download the file.

You can also supply more metadata youself – the type that helps to further categorize your photos. Clicking on the Summary tab displays even more data fields:

XP Photo Metadata 02

The Title, Subject, Author, Keywords and Comments fields are available for you to complete. By adding information about the photo you are supplying metadata – descriptive data about a data file. Enter information and click OK.

XP Photo Metadata 03

If you are curious about the Advanced button (and who isn’t – if there’s a button there you bet I’m going to check it out!), click it and more metadata is displayed including height, width, as well as the metadata you just entered.

XP Photo Metadata 04

So What Can I Do With Metadata?

Now that the metadata is embedded as part of the file, both supplied by the camera and by you, it can be displayed in Windows Explorer by adding the fields to be displayed. Right click over any of the fields in Windows Explorer and a quick list of fields in use appears with a check mark.

XP Photo Metadata 05

Select the Author and Comments fields and they will then be displayed in Windows Explorer.

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Now, you can sort and organize your photos based on this new metadata.

Warning! Genea-geek speak ahead! If you want to learn more about the metadata standards used by most digital cameras, read about EXIF (exchangeable image file format). EXIF is the most common standard used with files stored in Windows XP but is today seen as somewhat inflexible and antiquated.

So I Have To Manually Input Metadata For Each Photo File?

You could spend half your life editing metadata manually for photo files in Windows XP and by the time you’re done, Microsoft will have come out with its next generation of Windows operating system.

There are several programs that are available for free that allow bulk editing of metadata – check them out at

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About Thomas MacEntee

What happens when a “tech guy” with a love for history gets laid off during The Great Recession of 2008? You get Thomas MacEntee, a genealogy professional who’s also a blogger, educator, author, social media connector, online community builder and more. Thomas was laid off after a 25-year career in the information technology field, so he started his own genealogy-related business called High Definition Genealogy. He also created an online community of over 3,000 family history bloggers known as GeneaBloggers. His most recent endeavor, Hack Genealogy, is an attempt to “re-purpose today’s technology for tomorrow’s genealogy.” Thomas describes himself as a lifelong learner with a background in a multitude of topics who has finally figured out what he does best: teach, inspire, instigate, and serve as a curator and go-to-guy for concept nurturing and inspiration. Thomas is a big believer in success, and that we all succeed when we help each other find success.

One thought on “Metadata Tags for Photos (Windows XP)

  1. I started to add metadata and then found that when I saved to a CD I lost it all when I did the recovery. Now that I think about it it was either the CD or the external that I lost it when I recovered. Not good! I am working on organizing all my photos with Heritage Collector.

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