Legacy Keywords & the New Keyword List Feature


Love the new support in v1.6 for keyword lists! I just want to better understand some distinctions.

  1. My existing Photos library was converted from Aperture. I can see/edit my existing keywords within the Photos app by selecting a photo and hitting the “Get Info” button. How would you describe what these keywords are – they are not fields of any of the metadata categories such as IPTC or XMP, correct?

  2. Working from the Remote Control tool within the MetaImage app, I can make changes to this keyword field – but again what would you call this “uncategorized” field?

  3. Given that all the keywords in my existing library are in this “uncategorized” field, I am trying to assess the merits of this keyword field versus that of a metadata category such as IPTC or XMP – do you have any thoughts on this?

  4. If the keyword field of a metadata category such as IPTC or XMP is deemed optimal, how would I think about converting all that keyword data for my existing library. A tool within MetaImage would be awesome.

  5. Or if there is no real difference, being able to select from the MetaImage keyword list while using the Remote Control tool to populate this “uncategorized” field so that my library is consistently keyword-ed going forward would be great.

Love the app and thanks for your time on these questions.


I will try to explain approximately how each component works.

As soon as an image is added to Photos.app, you can not edit more tags than those in the “Get Info” section. Therefore, it is not possible to edit the metadata via the MetaImage extension or the MetaImage application itself. It is necessary to export and re-import the image to get full control of the image file. In addition, the keywords field in the “Get Info” section corresponds to the IPTC: Keywords field. In Photos.app, metadata changes are not applied immediately, but stored by the application elsewhere. The changes are applied to the image only during the export.

The remote control interface interacts directly with the Photos.app engine, in exactly the same way as when you use “Get Info”. Therefore, the behavior of the changes is exactly the same as above.

The remote does not support the list of keywords at the moment. I will add the button in one of the next updates.

Do not hesitate to tell me if I forgot things.


Thanks for your response. This is what I’ve come to understand:

  1. Photos app keywords are IPTC keywords, but when you apply them from within Photos app (including from the MetaImage remote control) they are not written to the file – rather they are maintained in a database internal to the Photos app.

  2. Other metadata categories with keyword fields (such as XMP) are not functional inside Photos app (i.e., you can not search on them).

  3. When exporting pictures out of Photos app, choosing not to include keyword data does not remove IPTC keywords that were written to the file prior to import into Photos app. It simply does not write any keywords maintained in the internal database. Thus if MetaImage was used to write IPTC keywords to the file prior to Photos app import, these could not be stripped on export by the Photos app.

I am really looking forward to the addition of the keyword list to the MetaImage remote control tool. The pure vertical listing is way more functional than the Photos app keyword manager’s cloud of buttons.

Thank you again!


Thanks to you too!

  1. Exactly
  2. The MetaImage extension cannot write but read metadata of original images. Indeed, you cannot edit more metadata while they are stored by Photos via your Mac. The situation seems a lit bit different on iOS but I do not know why.
  3. If you edit metadata before an import of an image, its IPTC:Keywords will be added to the internal database of Photos during the import. So they should appear in the app and in the exported image.

All behaviours listed above have been deducted by hand. They may change in future versions of Photos.