Using metadata to get the most out of your files

You’ve digitized your family photographs and videos, preserving them for generations to come - but how will your great-great-grandchildren know who's who and why it's important? The simplest answer is metadata.

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You’ve digitized your family photographs and videos, preserving them for generations to come - but how will your great-great-grandchildren know who's who and why it's important?

The simplest answer is metadata.


What is metadata?

Metadata is essentially information about information. It could be the title of your file, the time the original was taken/recorded, or the camera used.

Different file types and programs allow you to add information into metadata fields. You can add information about the file to help you identify the people, the location, and other descriptive details in your photos and videos. 


How do I view my metadata?

If you want a quick overview of the metadata attached to your files you can do so within your operating system.

In Windows: Right-click on a file, select "Properties" and click on the "Details" tab.

In Mac OS X: Right-click on a file, click "Get Info" and expand the "More Info" section. 

These options will show you your file’s basic metadata.

 

Record the Who, What, Where, & When

Adding or editing metadata happens within the file itself. You can edit the metadata of each individual file, or batch-edit many files at once, with programs like Adobe Bridge, Lightroom, Irfanview, and other available software.

Include information about who is in the image, where and when it was taken, and anything else you know that will give it context. If you know what kind of camera and film were used to take the photograph or video, include that as well. 

At a minimum, you can record this information in a text document or spreadsheet, including the file names and descriptions of your photos and videos.

However, a document or spreadsheet is not the best solution. If anything happens to these documents, all of the contextual and historical information about your photos and videos will be lost.

Having metadata attached to your files, and their duplicates is a much safer solution for preserving your family’s history.

Have more questions about taking care of your digitized collection? See our post on protecting your files.
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