Name that date

A couple weeks ago, I was making an iPhoto slideshow for my daughter’s birthday party—one of those doting, boring-to-everyone-else-but-engrossing-to-her-parents yearly retrospectives. Given that this was her first birthday, the date of each picture was especially meaningful; people were sure to ask when various photos were taken.

Unfortunately, iPhoto doesn’t include the ability to display a photo’s date during a slideshow; you can display each image’s title, but not its date. (Which seems like an oversight to me; after all, many slideshows include images—of kids, trips, and other subjects—for which people would be interested when the photos were taken.) So I decided to rename each photo using its “date taken” and then re-import the photos into iPhoto. This would result in each photo’s iPhoto title being its new date-name; when I used iPhoto’s option to display the photo’s title during the slideshow, it would, in effect, show the date the photo was taken.

But how to rename each photo—I had nearly 300—easily? I tried Automator, AppleScript, and even several third-party utilities specifically designed to rename files, but none of them did the job.

Coincidentally, Macworld reader and forum member EBH was looking to accomplish a similar task, and posted a call for help in our forums. Although I couldn’t offer a solution, reader Skybolt could—and as it turns out, this feature is actually built in to iPhoto! (Yes, I was slightly embarrassed that I didn’t discover it myself, given that I’m supposed to know these things. But that’s what’s great about the Internet—and our readers.)

To use this feature, you select a group of photos in iPhoto and then choose Photos: Batch Change. You’ll get a dialog that gives you several useful options for quickly changing the Title, Date, or Comments for each selected photo. In the case of the Title, one of the options is Date/Time, which changes each photo’s title in iPhoto to its Date Taken EXIF tag—the date and time set by your camera when the photo was taken. (Each photo’s filename remains unchanged, which I appreciate, both because I sometimes use filenames to track sequence and because, if you have multiple photos from the same day, you don’t end up with a bunch of files with names like 10-12-2006-1, 10-12-2006-2, 10-12-2006-3, and so on.) You can even choose the date/time format.

Image

Other options include the ability to change the Title of each photo’s to its filename, to its roll info, or to text you provide; or to clear the title altogether. You can also change the date/time tags themselves, including an option to automatically increase the date/time tags on subsequent photos by one second, minute, hour, or day. Finally, you can batch apply a particular comment to multiple images.

Why didn’t I think to use this feature? My excuse is that whenever I saw the menu item— Batch Change —I mistakenly thought it was to make changes to the photos themselves, not to the photos’ information. (Maybe the item should be called Batch Change Info ? Or maybe it’s just time to do my annual “check out every button and menu item in iPhoto” exploration.) But thanks to Skybolt and our forums, I’ve now got a slideshow that works exactly as I wanted—a couple weeks late, granted, but at least I know what to do next year.

  
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