How to export photos and maintain the original creation date in Apple Photos

Keep the original creation date of your pictures.

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What’s an original, you may ask, when we’re dealing with digital data? In Photos for macOS, it comes up when you’re exporting an image or video. Macworld reader Maya has a question related to this, because she knows how to use Photo to adjust the date and time that a piece media was captured, but when she exports an image, the creation date of the file is always that of the export time.

Photos offers two kinds of exports (as did iPhoto). One essentially creates a new file by translating the image or video in the library into something new. The other copies the original file from the master source media that was imported.

Look at the File > Export menu in Photos, and you’ll see Export [Quantity] Photo (or Video) and Export Unmodified Original for [Quantity] Photo (or Video).

With the first option, you choose quality, size, resolution, and other options from menus, and Photos transforms your source image, including any modifications you may have applied. With the second, the raw original image is copied. For many images, you may not have made any changes at all, so the second option is effectively identical to the first, only without any transformation.

Metadata stored in the image, such as the original capture date, effective “film” speed in digital terms, and so on, is exported in both cases.

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