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ExifTool is a Perl in Windows at your command

Perl programmers and advanced users will like this command line EXIF tool, but the rest of us should keep looking.

You have plenty of choices when it comes to tools for editing the EXIF metadata contained in your digital images and other files, everything from dead-simple freeware to pro-level applications running into three figures. ExifTool definitely belongs among the freeware, but whether it's a simple tool depends on how you feel about the Windows command line. If you have no idea what that is, ExifTool is not for you; much friendlier metadata tools aren't scarce. But if you can handle Perl or have no problem with the Command Prompt (or typing characters and spaces) then ExifTool offers a super-fast way to view and edit a file's metadata without having to open a substantial program. Simply place this portable tool's executable file on your desktop and drag an image file into it to produce a Command Prompt window displaying all of the file's available metadata. To edit data, you'll need to rename the executable file and open it via a command line, which enables all of the Perl distribution's features.

We extracted ExifTool's executable and double-clicked it to open the program's documentation, which includes an extensive list of file types and meta information formats that ExifTools supports. Right away we knew we were in unfamiliar territory. Following the instructions, we closed the prompt and dragged an image file into ExifTool's executable. ExifTool popped back up with all of the image's available metadata displayed (many spaces were blank). Simple enough. The program's executable file downloads with the (-k) suffix, which tells the Command Prompt to stay open. We renamed it, as the instructions recommend, but, as we noted before, we were already well outside the lines of the sort of software we were looking for -- or that most users would look for, for that matter.

So who should look at ExifTool's Windows distribution? Windows users with Perl installed on their machines (and some basic skills using the language) will be well-equipped, but the average user will do better with a more familiar tool. Adventurous types who like the idea of a super-basic, super-flexible command line tool will find ExifTool easy to learn and educational, too.

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