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Exif edits on command

Access and edit Exif and other meta information with this free command-line tool.

ExifTool is a handy, free Perl-based program for editing the Exif information in digital image files as well as the meta information in other digital files, such as music and movies. It's available in several configurations; we tested the standalone Windows executable version, which doesn't require Perl and omits some of the features of the command-line version but offers essentially the same functionality, including, notably, a command-line capability.

ExifTool downloads as a ZIP file and unpacks as a Windows executable file that we chose to park on the desktop. To use ExifTool, you simply drag and drop a file or folder into this executable, and up pops the command-line tool displaying the file's meta information. Clicking any key closes the window. That's not all it does, though: You can launch many of the Perl version's command-line functions with a mouse click by changing the Windows executable's name with simple suffixes. That sounds a bit complex for the average user, but if you can add stuff like brackets, spaces, and letters to a file name, you can use this tool. The default file, exiftool.exe (-k), includes the suffix that keeps the command prompt open. We tried the provided example, right-clicking the default file and renaming it according to the instructions to generate sidecar text files with detailed file information. When we dragged an image file into the renamed executable, the command-line utility notified us that our text file had been created: It's that simple. It does more, too, according to the documentation in the command-line interface, which seems to provide much the same documentation as the HTML version, albeit in a format some users may find cumbersome. However, plenty of additional information is available online at the developer's site.

While ExifTool is clearly aimed toward professionals who need maximum power and flexibility, it's not beyond the capabilities of users whose only exposure to the command prompt came in a programming class way back when. It's freeware, too, which puts it in a class by itself.

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