How to modify the creation date for pictures in Apple Photos for OS X

Retain the original date when exporting an image editing in Photos for OS X.

applephotos hardware

Dave Price writes in with a quirk of Photos related to exporting images he’s edited:

In the new Mac Photos app, I found that the only way to export photos and keep the original date that the photo was shot is to export the original. So after carefully cropping and adjusting the many editing options, how can I export the edited photo without losing the creation date?

It’s a strange omission from Photos for OS X, though you could think of it as philosophical in nature: Apple only exports a newly created version, rather than one that’s the original, modified. That’s probably too existential for software, however.

Photos lets you export images in three ways, all of which support the embedded EXIF data about exposure, camera type, and capture date:

  • File > Export > Export Unmodified Original
  • File > Export > Export [Photos/Video/Items]
  • Drag to Desktop

Unmodified Original is obviously not what you want, but it preserves the original; option-dragging to the Desktop does the same. Plain export lets you pick a format, but create a file that has a new creation and modification date. Dragging without Option creates a JPEG.

So there’s nothing you can do about this in Photos, unless and until a third party creates an export plug-in. But you can fix this in the Finder, for a single image or a batch, using A Better Finder Attributes ($15, free trial).

mac911 a better finder attributes exif

A Better Finder Attributes can copy and manage tons of settings, including EXIF data.

This utility offers a lot of ways to repair attributes, one of which is to copy the EXIF timestamp from the image to the Finder creation date. You can drag one or more images in to perform the task. You can then use a separate operation to copy the creation date to the modification date. A Better Finder lets you create droplets, so you can just drag images onto the droplet and process them without running the app, even.

With a host of other Finder and EXIF operations also available, this utility could be a good investment to solve an irritating problem.

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