In an earlier post, I looked at free software for tagging photos with keywords. This is useful so as to be able to search for them quickly later on. The point I made in that post was to make sure to use IPTC keywords rather than proprietary systems so that they would be portable with the image file if you ever moved to a new photo management system. I particularly liked Zoner Photo Studio at the time but is this the best option available now?
If you’ve got folders and folders of photos, you want to be able to add keywords as quickly as possible to speed up the tagging process. This means being able to select multiple photos and add multiple keywords to them at once, preferably from a pick list.
The free photo management packages I looked at were Zoner Photo Studio, XnView, GeoSetter and IrfanView.
Adding multiple selected tags to multiple selected images
I’ll have a look at the four photo organization packages I’ve mentioned, list some tips for using each and identify their strengths and weaknesses with tagging. I’ll also try to suggest a website for further information with tagging. The information presented doesn’t make for easy reading but is meant to help out if you are using any of the four packages to add keywords. For a summary of my findings, just jump straight to the end of this post.
If you’ve found ways round any of the problems or shortcomings I’ve encountered with each utility, let me know and I’ll update the post.
To tag photos with keywords, it’s best if you can open a folder of thumbnails, select the files you want to tag, then add the keywords. With IrfanView, you can open a folder of thumbnails from Windows Explorer by right clicking the folder and selecting Browse with IrfanView. Otherwise, open one photo in IrfanView, then click the keyboard shortcut T to open a folder of thumbnails. To add a set of keywords to a group of photos, select a discontinuous group of photos with Ctrl-Left Click or a continuous group of photos with Shift-Left Click. Then Ctrl-I brings up the IPTC Information box. Before you add your keywords, go to the Options tab and check that Edit the first file only; apply text to all files has been checked. If not check it.
Select the Keywords/Categories tab and add your keyword/s for this selection of photos and click Write. That’s all there is to it. If you choose another selection of photos and then go to tag them, you won’t find a pick list of keywords from your previous entries so that’s a real disadvantage.
Just in passing, I also noticed that when the folder of photo thumbnails was displayed in Windows Explorer before going into IrfanView, you can hover over a thumbnail and see a list of any keywords already assigned to that photo under Tags.
To add keyword/s, select the files. Then Ctrl-E brings up the Edit Data box. Add your keywords or select them from the drop-down pick list (if you’ve used them before), then click Enter to add it; Then click Set Current Values for All Selected Images. On the next screen Keywords, Changed Items Only should be checked; click OK. Note that all selected photos on the left will now be highlighted in bold. In the Thumbnail browser, your changed photo(s) will now be highlighted in purple. As you add keywords, they are automatically saved to a drop-down pick list for future use.
Finally when you have added all your keywords, you’ll see that all changed images are shown in red. To save the keywords in the changed files, click on the Images menu and click Save Changes (Ctrl-S) or Save Changes of Selected Images (Ctrl-Shift-S). Or use the hotkey combination.
One niggle I found was that keywords weren’t listed alphabetically in the drop-down keyword pick list. For a fuller explanation of the process to add keywords in GeoSetter, have a look here.
XnView has improved its IPTC keyword tagging since I last reviewed it. There’s a good video of the keyword tagging process on YouTube, so I’ll just go over the highlights.
As with IrfanView, it’s Ctrl-I to bring up Image information once you have selected your images.
There’s no drop-down pick list of previously used keywords, but you can save a text file of keywords previously and call that up by clicking Open text file.
I did find I had to call it up each time I wanted to add new keywords to photo selections. When you’ve added your keywords, chose Writing options; Add new values to current value; Then click Write all selected. It doesn’t do this automatically straight away. Once you click Close, it then writes the keywords to the selected files.
In XnView, when you select a photo with IPTC keywords, the keywords can be viewed in a window below the thumbnails by clicking Ctrl-Shift-P and then clicking the tab IPTC. A nice touch.
Zoner Photo Studio
Although XnView has certainly improved over the last couple of years, I did find Zoner to be the best photo management package overall. There’s a nice summary for adding keywords in Zoner here so I won’t go into much detail just to point out the key features.
Zoner scores in providing a nice alphabetically sorted pick list of keywords on the right side of the thumbnails.
With Zoner, it’s Shift-Enter to bring up the Image information box to add new keywords. Or you can also just drag them from the keyword window onto you photos. You can also categorize your keywords under, for example, People, Events, Places. I did find it difficult to add new categories at first so here’s how to do that.
In the keyword window to the right of the thumbnails, click on the empty space below the categories, for example, below Topics in the image above, and select New Keywords… This will open the Keywords box.
Fill in your new category Title, in this case Location, and then be sure to check This keyword also serves as a category. After clicking OK, your new category will be added and you can then add keywords in it.
Once you have all your keywords defined, you can select your photos, select the multiple keywords you want to add to that set of photos, then drag the keywords onto one of the selected photos. The tags will be added to each and you will also note a small label symbol near the top left corner of the thumbnails. Hover over any of these label symbols and you’ll see the keywords assigned to that photo. And if you come back later to continue tagging, your sorted keyword pick list is still there.
So that’s a quick look at adding IPTC keywords in these four photo management packages. For me, Zoner still stands out head and shoulders above the rest. The free version is fine for adding keywords, the interface is very nice and I believe it’s probably the quickest option to add keywords if you have a large archive of photos.
In the next part of this series, I’ll look at searching through your photo archive for photos with the keywords you’ve selected.
How do you add keywords to your photos?