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November 1, 2017

Renaming Photos with ExifRenamer for Mac

So, the problem with iPhoto (or Photos as they've renamed it) is that the filename is meaningless. IMG4039.jpg really doesn't tell you anything. Plus, Apple goes out of their way to basically conceal the EXIF data that indicates when the photo was taken.

So, the logical thing to do is to rename the photos based on the Date-Time information stored in the EXIF data. I used to do this on my PC, but once I switched over to apple, I stopped renaming the photos based on the EXIF data. The reason for this is that Apple automatically imports the photos into iPhoto (Photos), and it doesn't really ever give me a chance to rename them.

So, finally, this has bothered me enough that I decided to do something about it.

First, I found an app (EXIF Renamer) that will rename the images for me based on the date/time data stored in the EXIF data. So, fair enough.

However, I still have the problem where, when I hook up my camera to the MacBook Air, it automagically loads all of the images from the camera into iPhoto (Photos). So, I'm not really clear how I would be able to take advantage of this new EXIF Renamer app.

So, now I'm trying to find a solution to this problem. This video does a pretty good job of explaining how/why the Apple automatically imports the photos into iPhoto(Photos).

I think that, in a nutshell, what I want to do is
1) connect camera to MacBook Air
2) not have it automatically launch iPhoto (or cancel iphoto once it launches)
3) copy files off of camera onto MacBook Air
4) rename photos using ExifRenamer
5) import renamed photos into iPhoto

I think that my camera doesn't show up in Finder, which is part of my problem.


With finder open, click the finder menu in the upper left, beside the apple. Then click preferences under that menu. On the general tab, you'll see options for displaying items on the desktop.

OK. So, under "Show these items on the desktop:", I checked "Hard disks" and "External disks". Lets see if that works. Like...ideally, I should see my camera as just another external drive in Finder. That doesn't seem like a lot to ask...

OK. That did nothing, so far as I can tell. Fuck you apple. Seriously. Fuck you.

OK. So, it's just Apple. They're as dumb as a bag of fucking hammers. They refuse to show the Canon EOS 50D as an external drive. OK. Fuck you apple. Let's move along. So, it seems to me then that I need to import the files into iPhoto (like I have a fucking choice). Then, I'll export them from iPhoto (or possibly import them to a different location.)



Copy items to the iPhoto Library.

So, it looks like it's copying them into my "Photos Library", which is here: Macintosh HD > Users > robkiser > Pictures > Photos Library

So, if that's what it's doing then maybe I can just rename them and delete the old photo names (IMG0001.jpg).

OK. Now, it says 197 items successfully imported. Fair enough. Now, let's export the same 197 photos. I created a new folder called iphoto_sux_dix. Now, I go into iPhoto, select all of the photos and then select File - Export - Export 197 photos.. Click Export. Select the folder iphoto_sux_dix. Click Export.

So, now we finally have the photos copied onto the MacBook Air. It was painful, and we all wish Steve Jobs was still alive so we could smash his fingers with a hammer, but we did it. We imported the photos from our camera and put them on the MacBook Air.

Now, let's try using our new app to rename them based on the EXIF data.

Our photos are here:
Macintosh HD > Users > robkiser > Documents > iphoto_sux_dix

Now, I see that I installed ExifRenamer.dmg on May 29, 2012. Wow.

Now, I try to launch ExifRenamer and it says it "can't be opened because it is from an unidentified developer".


Hold down the Control key and click the application icon. From the contextual menu choose Open.

A popup will appear asking you to confirm this action. Click the Open button.

OK. FInally, I think I figured out how to get it to work.
I go to Finder. Go to the folder I created (iphoto_sux_dix),
Select the photo to be renamed....Open With....ExifRenamer...and it renames the file.
Fuck me. Lord that was hard. I almost gave up.

Now, I'll rename all of them at once... (except these 2)....
So, I select 195 photos in Finder. Right click....Open with....ExifRenamer
Dialog box opens up. Select 'Rename All'.

So, this part works. Now, to get them into iPhoto (Photos).

Go to All Photos on the left.
Ctrl-A to select all photos.
Delete 197 Photos.

OK. All of my photos are gone. Good.

Now, let's import them from ...File - Import - iphotos_sux_dix folder.
Review for Import.
Import all new photos.

OMG it worked. Like...I'm not saying I could do it again, but I was able to rename my photos and get them loaded into iPhoto. Christ.

Posted by Rob Kiser on November 1, 2017 at 8:41 PM


If a computer wizard like you has this much trouble renaming photos, we mere mortals don't have a chance. 🤓

Posted by: Steve on November 3, 2017 at 5:03 AM

FYI - After an 8 year hiatus, it looks like development of ExifRenamer has re-commenced.

I have been using the ExifRenamer version released in 2010, back when the current version of Mac OS X was 10.6 Snow Leopard (current version of MacOS is 10.14 Mojave, released September 2018). I stopped checking for ExifRenamer updates a long time ago.

Updates have been available since April 2018 ; or about 1/2 year after you wrote this blog post.

The most recent version of ExifRenamer was released in February 2019, just a few weeks ago.

It looks like the developer fixed a lot of software bugs in the past year, so I'd suggest updating the application.


Posted by: anonymous on March 3, 2019 at 4:17 PM

If you look in your home directory, there should be an "iPhoto" and/or "Photos" library under "Pictures":

Macintosh HD/Users/robkiser/Pictures/Photos Library.photoslibrary/

note : you may have more than one if you upgraded from iPhoto and/or imported additional libraries.

If you right-click on "Photos Libarary.photoslibrary" and select "Show Package Contents" from the resulting menu, you can see the folders within the library.

If you open the "Masters" directory

Macintosh HD/Users/robkiser/Pictures/Photos Library.photoslibrary/Masters/

you will have access to the actual .jpg (or whatever picture format) files, sorted by import date.

Personally, I think it's dumb to put the .library container in Pictures. But that's because I use ~/Pictures for picture files that aren't imported into iPhoto/Photos, so that directory is full of lots of other picture files I don't really care about.

So I created a separate folder for it and moved it there, e.g. create a new folder called something like "Photos Library" in your home directory

Macintosh HD/Users/robkiser/Photos Library/

and move

Macintosh HD/Users/robkiser/Pictures/Photos Library.photoslibrary/


Macintosh HD/Users/robkiser/Photos Library/Photos Library.photoslibrary/

So you should have

Macintosh HD/Users/robkiser/Pictures/
Macintosh HD/Users/robkiser/Photos Library/Photos Library.photoslibrary/

And then create a link to ~/Photos Library in the sidebar of Finder. This makes it so much easier to find and directly access the .jpg files in "Photos Library.photoslibrary" should I need to.

It's also an additional safeguard from accidentally deleting "Photos Library.photoslibrary" when I'm deleting old pictures files from the ~/Pictures directory.

Posted by: anonymous on March 3, 2019 at 5:02 PM

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