IPTC Software Review: iTag

by JL Beeken on 4-11-2010

iTagThe subject of IPTC comes up over and over. And it’s been awhile since I did a general review of options at IPTC Summary: Photo Metadata Editors. I’m not keen to download a lot of new programs onto my computer to try because I don’t need any more of them. But I installed one called iTag to have a second look.

Here’s an interesting excerpt from iTag‘s “About Page”:

The inspiration for iTag came after scanning photos from old family photo albums. Some photos had labels and captions – but many did not.

Realizing that the massive volume of digital photos being accumulated were tagged with even less data, a digital captioning solution was required.

First, I’ll review some of the other things I’ve tried.

I don’t know of anything better than Photo Mechanic, as I’ve said before. If you’re serious about getting your photos annotated properly and moving onto other things, this is the way to go.

Adobe, although on the cutting edge of IPTC/XMP, has done a horrible job of building it into Adobe Photoshop Elements. It’s nothing short of a major nuisance. Some of the information fields are available through the Editor and some of them only through the Organizer. And there’s no batch-mode for entering data (except for the keywords) which is a total deal-breaker if you have any volume of work to do. Every year they sell an updated version for around $100 and every year the IPTC situation remains the same.

At a comparable price, ACDSee Pro is a much better option for IPTC. It’s laid out where you can see it and all the batch-modes you could ever want are included.

I highly recommend that if you’re using Picasa to stop it right now. It’s cute, I understand, but the tagging that’s being used there is not up to IPTC-standard, just hacking around at it. It mucks around with the IPTC data entered in legitimate software and the lack of a backup system could seriously plague you in the future. I made a backup of my installation folder just in case I can retrieve my face-tagging work sometime later. Bite your lip, take a deep breath, and let it go.

Windows File Properties is not a place to annotate your photos. Don’t even think about it.

I tried BreezeBrowser twice a couple of years apart and had problems with it both times. Maybe it’s just me.

XnView is good as a photo-viewer, including the IPTC data. And it’s free and it’s good except for the odd quirk like the caption field having a limited length. If your ancestors wrote novels on the backs of photos, (one can only hope) don’t use this.

I installed iTag because it said it works with TIFFs as well as the usual JPGs. The first time I built an index and tried, it appeared not to. The second time I opened the software the TIFF thumbnails came through just fine. Whew! We’re off to the races here.

IPTC, iTag

iTag has a lovely, simple interface and I think you can find your way around without any further explanation from me. There are two main windows, Edit Mode and Search Mode. Enter your info, read/edit what’s already there or search for what you want.

iTag, Photo Tagging Software

Under Edit/Options/Search, add the folders you want indexed. When you do a Search it will bring up results from your indexed folders. I added my two main photo folders, Ancestors and Descendants, and it indexed 10,882 photos in under 10 minutes. Click on any tag and the photos will show up instantly. Since ‘Ancestors’ also includes my Source Library, it brings up all census and BMD records, newspaper clippings, etc with embedded keywords and descriptions at the same time. This will knock your socks off.

iTag Search

iTag: Search Mode

The tags (keywords) are a tag-cloud and can be viewed in 3 different ways. (Right-click on any tag for options.)

iTag has a free version and a paid one for $29. A very reasonable price in these hard times. The difference on the paid version is that you can place an unlimited number of keywords on your photos. With the free version you’re limited to three. On photos where I already have more than three, iTag will still read them in the free version.

It’s integrated with Google Earth for viewing photos that already have co-ordinates embedded. Or you can import co-ordinates from Google Earth’s KML and KMZ files.

iTag is a place to start if you’re looking to get started. I’m impressed so far. Just to keep this in perspective; there are only the most basic IPTC fields available in iTag, (captions, keywords and copyright) and it doesn’t have anywhere near the breadth of other options that you’ll find in more expensive software. But it’s amazing in that it will let you get on with annotating TIFFs.

http://www.itagsoftware.com/compatibility.php has a list of other IPTC/XMP compatible software that you can try if you’re inclined.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Margaret Eves 4-13-2010 at 5:37 PM

Thank you again for informing us about IPTC software. I downloaded Photo Mechanic, and it did indeed look great — I cataloged 3 photos. However I was in a crazily busy time, and my trial period ran out. Twice. I’m to embarrassed to try to beg for another trial.

I will try iTag, and I think it will be the thing to get me going.

I started a “Photo Album Journey” blog thinking it would force me to scan my Davis family’s 19th century photo album. I’ve scanned 3 photos so far. (Since January). I refuse to believe that my project has fallen on it’s face. It has just stalled temporarily.

Thanks again.

Margaret

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