jExifToolGUI: a cross-platform java Swing gui for ExifTool

Table of Contents

1 Overview

jExifToolGUI is a java Swing program that reads and writes metadata from files, predominantly image files. It has some preformatted screens for exif, gps/location, xmp, gpano (and a very limited set of IPTC) tags to write/read from/to image files using ExifTool and it also supports geotagging. Next to that you can define your own combination of metadata tags to write to your images. This gives you the option to use any tag that Exiftool supports. Next to that you can also define "brand new" non-existing tags that can be added to your files using a user-defined configuration file and user define tag combination. jExifToolGUI: j for java, GUI for Graphical User Interface to ExifTool.

jExifToolGUI is only a graphical frontend for the excellent open source Perl command line ExifTool by Phil Harvey. ExifTool is the real "engine", but as it is a command-line tool it is to some users less userfriendly. jExifToolGUI is built around exiftool and tries to give a lot of funtionalities and flexibility without you having to remember every command line parameter. jExifToolGUI only implements part of the functionality of ExifTool. It is definitely not a complete GUI for Exiftool and can certainly not replace it (if only that ExifTool is still the engine "under the hood").

This program is Open Source and completely free and will always stay that way, but you can donate any amount to me to show your appreciation if you continue to use it (after all it took a lot of hours/days to write it). See the Help menu in the program or click here.

And when it comes to donation, the same is off course valid for ExifTool itself. For donation to exiftool (Phil Harvey), see here.

This manual and the jExifToolGUI version might not always run synchronously. If new functionality is added to the program which requires a new chapter or paragraph, the manual will be updated for that new section. However, not all parts of the manual will/might be updated which might lead to older program screens in the manual that might slightly deviate from the program version you will be working with.
Note also that you will see screen captures from several operating systems (Linux/Windows/MacOS) and/or window managers (on Linux).

This manual will be worked on and slowly expand. It currently is in its infancy.

2 Versions and "Installation"

This tool is written on Linux, used on Linux and mostly tested on Linux. However, as it is a java Swing cross-platform program it should run fine on MacOS, Windows and theoretically on all platforms that support java. You need to have java version 8 (1.8) or newer installed on your system. jExifToolGUI is fully tested with java 11, and in general with java 12, 13, 14, 15.

Note: jExifToolGUI comes without exiftool which you need to download yourself from Phil Harvey's exiftool site if you want the latest version. On Linux you can also use the version belonging to your distribution.

Universal jar




2.1 Uninstall

If you use the deb package on any Debian/Ubuntu like Linux OS, you can use apt-get or dpkg to uninstall it.
All other versions: The MacOS bundles, the windows .exes or the inux appImage can simply be deleted.

3 Quick Start

The program consists of a left pane containing your photos, and a right pane which consists of a set of tabs. One of these tabs ("Edit") contains a subset of tabs (Some of the sub tabs on the "Edit Data" tab will return in this manual for further explanation).
Next to the tabs on the right, the program also has several menus which contain more functionalities. A number of buttons and functions will not work, and are disabled, until you have loaded at least one photo. Most actions on your images which you perform in the right tabs or in the menus, only work after having selected at least one, or more of the loaded photos in the left pane.

Click the image for a full size view in a separate tab.

View data

Select an image and click one of the radiobuttons and select the desired metadata category from the drop-down. The "Common Tags" is not the ExifTool category "common", but what the author considers are "commonly selected categories". The "user defined metadata tags combinations" (see here) are also added to this drop down. If you have multiple images selected, the metadata for the last selected image will be displayed.

Edit data

Here as well: All actions in the right "Edit" tab only work after having selected one or more of the loaded photos.

  1. You can select one image and modify the data for it.
  2. You can select multiple images at once and modify the data for all these images at once.
  3. You can select one image, copy data from it, then select multiple images, and paste the (copied) data to these multiple images at once.

All Edit sub tabs do have a "bottom line" of buttons "copy from", "save to" and "Help"

As mentioned in bullet #3: You can copy the relevant information from a selected image. Then you can write this info to many images.
Note: Under (menu) "Metadata -> SideCar Exports" you can export metadata to a number of format. Especially MIE is an excellent format to export to. You can read the MIE format back in like an image and use it to "Copy from".

Some of the sub tabs on the "Edit Data" tab will return in this manual for further explanation.

Copy Data

This options allows you to copy entire metadata categories from one image to multiple images.

Your Commands

This program has quite a lot of functionality and flexibility in how you can read/write date from and to your images. In case that is not sufficient you can simply create your own command and run that on your images. Next to that you can also save your commands as "favorites" for later, repeated use.

ExifTool Database

This tab does nothing with your images. It is simply a tool to query through all the metadata categories and tags that ExifTool supports. The number of tags is dependent on your ExifTool version. The tab mentions on which version the retrieved information is based (this doesn't have to be the version you have installed on your laptop/pc). Also here you can save your SQL queries as favorites.

4 Some Edit sub tabs further explained

In this chapter some of the edit tabs will be further explained. Others like Exif, XMP and GPS/locaion are too straight-forward to say something about them.

4.1 Geotagging

Geotagging adds GPS data to your images based on data from a GPS track log file.
This GPS track file can be used from your phone, gps device, navigation device, or whatever you have providing such a GPS track.
The GPS track log file is loaded, and linear interpolation is used to determine the GPS position at the time of the image, then the relevant tags are written to the image (if the corresponding information is available). It means that your camera needs to be set correctly with regard to the date/time of the location where you are.

jExifToolGUI also supports the "Geosync" feature of ExifTool. The Geosync tag is only needed when the image timestamps are not properly synchronized with GPS time.
For example, a value of "+1:20" specifies that 1 minute and 20 seconds is added to the Geotime value before checking with the GPS track file. This is for a camera running 1 minute 20 seconds slower than the GPS clock.
The Geosync time is specified as "SS", "MM:SS", "HH:MM:SS" or "DD HH:MM:SS" (where SS=seconds, MM=minutes, HH=hours and DD=days), and a leading "+" or "-" may be added for positive or negative differences.
Note: Do not use (double) quotes around the geosync time in jExifToolGUI. Simply use something like -25 or +1:20

In jExifToolGUI you have 2 options:

  1. Use (a selection of) the images you loaded in the left images pane.
  2. Specify a folder containing a set of images to be tagged.

In case of the first option you need to leave the folder empty. If the "Folder containing the images:" is not left empty, it will always use the second option being the folder.

"The "Make backup of Originals" checkbox can make backups when selected. When selected new images will be created and the original images will get the extension ".original".
Note that jExifToolGUI will write both the EXIF GPS tags as well as the XMP GPS tags.

4.2 Use Lenses and create lens templates for your lenses

This screen has two purposes:
Both options can be used to add lens data to your image if it is not complete.

Next to that: Still some add-on lenses are not completely recognized by the camera and therefore the info is not added to the image. For these cases you can create lens configs and save and load them for your images taken with that specific lens.

When you click the button "Save this lens configuration", the following popup will be displayed.

The "Load a lens configuration" is almost identical.

4.3 Create and use user defined metadata tag combinations

Version 1.6 of jExifToolGUI gives you the option to define your own set of metadata tags that you want to add to your images. You can even define multiple metadata combination sets for different purposes: landscapes, sport, archiving, wildlife, family, etcetera. The Maintenance screen can be found in the menu "Tools -> User defined Metadata combis".
The edit screen can be found under the "Edit Data" tab inside "User defined combinations".
Currently three metadata sets are "pre-installed": Below the maintenance screen and edit screen.
Click the images to see a full-size version in a separate tab.

The maintenance and create screen

The Edit screen where you use your defined metadata sets to write those tags to your images.

The below video shows:

The created combinations in this movie are based om metadata tags already known to Exiftool. These are the standard Exif, XMP, IPTC, etcetera metadata tags. For 99% of the users this is all they will need.
jExifToolGUI #01: Create and use User defined Combinations

Note: The video is displayed by default in 1024x576 in 480p, but the maximum resolution is 1920x1080. (When playing select the gear icon in the bottom bar to set to 1080P and click the bottom right icon to play fullscreen)

This video shows the basis.
The tag names will not be stored in alphabetical order but in the order you created/saved them.
You can also cut/copy & paste tags: The second movie shows how to use Copy&Paste from (or to) other apps like spreadsheets (Excel, Google Spreadsheets, etc.) where you define your combinations.
jExifToolGUI #02: user combis copy paste

Note: The video is displayed by default in 1024x576 in 480p, but the maximum resolution is 1920x1080. (When playing select the gear icon in the bottom bar to set to 1080P and click the bottom right icon to play fullscreen)

Creating non-existing tags to add to your images

Below only gives you a very brief overview what can be done.

Exiftool allows you to define metadata tags that "do not exist yet". For this you need to create a custom config file where you define those "brand new" metadata tags.
This is described at the Exiftool site
Another example is delivered with jExifToolGUI itself. It is called isadg-struct.cfg and is based on the isad(g) archiving standard (based on this xml scheme). The isadg-struct.cfg I created can be found here online, but it is also located in the jexiftoolgui_data folder inside your user home folder. (Just to make sure users do not corrupt this file, it is overwritten on every program start).
When wanting to use non-existing tags, you first create the cfg file containing these tags. Then you define your combination set in the Tools screen, based on the tagnames in your configuration file. Upon saving this set, you also use the file chooser to select the cfg file you created. jExifToolGUI will then copy the cfg file into the jexiftoolgui_data folder and will store the link between the tags and the configuration file in the database. When you want to use this combination set, jExifToolGUI will also use the configuration file (has to use the file otherwise the tags can't be written).
Note: Exiftool, thereby jExifToolGUI, can read those tags from the images at any time. You only need the config file when wanting to write the tags to your images.

5 Several menu options

In this chapter some of the menu options will be explained. Some because they are somewhat more complicated. Some other menus/screens because you might not know what the "usefullnes" is of these options.

5.1 Rename photos

jExifToolGUI gives you many options to rename your photos. These will explained here.
Inside the "striped" frame you see the options for dropdown boxes 1 and 2.
Renaming has 4 "subsections": the "prefix", the "suffix", "numbering" and the "extension" which give you for a filename "prefix_suffix_(numbering).extension".

5.2 Sidecar exports

Metadata for images and other file types can be stored in (exported to) separate metadata files. Exiftool supports and can create a number of these metadata files. The XMP "sidecar" file is probably the best know format. Other supported metadata file types are EXIF, XMP, MIE ("The only format that doesn't suck") and EXV. jExifToolGUI can export all contained metadata in images and other files that Exiftool supports, and this can be used via (Menu) "Metadata-> Export metadata". Supported formats are txt, tab, xml, html and csv.

The Sidecar exports can be found via (menu) "Metadata -> Sidecar exports". The Sidecar exports are slighly different.

All Sidecar files can be read as "images". This makes it possible to read (for example) a .mie file together with a number of images. You use the .mie metadata file as "Copy from selected image" and use it to populate one or more images. For this reason there is no import function for these Sidecar files as you can use them as just described.

6 Preferences

The Preferences can be found under the menu "File -> Preferences"
Currently the Preferences screen has 3 tabs: General (Linux LXDE), Language (Windows), System (MacOS). See below (reduced size) images.

Click the images for a full-sized view in a separate tab.

The "General" tab (left):

The "Language" tab (top right):

Translating the application in your language is a volunteers/community effort. Please help in translating this application.

The "System" tab (bottom right): W.r.t. the log level: Do not set it too high. That will create huge files and slow down the application (due to all the logging). The author or someone else might ask you to put it to the highest level for trobleshooting.

The "Check for new jExifToolGUI version on program start" is useful as you will automatically be informed of a new release on startup.

This manual will be worked on and slowly expand. It currently is in its infancy.

Appendix A GNU Free Documentation License

Version 1.2, November 2002

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