Keyword recovery or transfer

I just transferred a number of folders to a new drive. I’ve seen mention of an issue on PCs but not on Macs: transferred files lose their keywords. That’s what I’m looking at, a lot of keywording out the window. Any workarounds here? thanks in advance. .

Did you do the move using PL or at the level? Keywords reside in the database so should remain If you move files within PL.

I would need to experiment to see if I can get keywords into the .dop files.

Keywords reside in the database and are added to exported images only…


The details: Mac OS Catalina on a 2019 MBP. Files were moved en masse (DOP inclusive) at the finder level. I wasn’t clear as to where the database resides, so I may just be out of luck. I am going to try doing this file/folder copy to the other drive within PL4 and see if that results. I was not aware that the keywords only ‘stick’ with the exported files. I’m going to also a test copy of some of those and see if PL4 reads the keywords. All of this springs from me being lazy!: Work drive is getting packed, move it to another larger drive and oh no! where did the keywords go! thanks gents

What camera do you have?


@nk_photo, peripheral files of PhotoLab can be found here:

(just replace “macadmin” by your account name)

thank you - someone mentioned that the keywords follow exports - so far not for me - I have a folder of contest images generated from the folders on the drive that’s getting pretty full. Those base work files have keywords. Those keywords do not travel with the export. It would be worth my time to have to do select import-export operations on the side files for search purposes. (thanks to all again!)

Before exporting check that keywords exist for your photo, if they do then your exported photo SHOULD have keywords in the IPTC section of the metadata in the exported file.

If keywords exist in XMP sidecar files then you need to get PL to read those files. The quickest way is to select a different folder then select the folder where you photos reside and PL should update and show your keywords.

I did ask for what camera you use for with Nikon you might add keywords directly to the nef, where they belong: to the image.
I did download a nef from a d810 and could easy add keywords using ViewNx2 in a iptc section. Pl is reading them.


The current camera is a Sony A6300. The majority of the images were done with a Sony NEX7 and Panasonic DMC-GF2. A handful with a Sony A7r and Canon 5DMII. I’m promiscuous.

There has been mentioned other software here that added keywords to the raw. I don’t know which one that was.
I can tell you it’s so much more relaxing having the keywords added to your raw.


Not if you value your raw files. These aren’t documented formats, and even if most of them are more or less TIFF, the last thing I want is software modifying them.

It’s not a matter of modifying, just adding.
And yes, you have to find out yourself too. Exiftool doesn’t add iptc to every raw file either. But if our camera does allow it, do it. With Nikon no problem yet.


Unless I’m misunderstanding what you’re saying, how do you add information to the raw file without modifying it?

It doesn’t matter that it’s new metadata, you still have to modify a file whose format is undocumented.

The original data is untouched.
Here is a reference to image files, including raw files, that exiftool can handle without problems, chapter “Supported File Types”.

Keywords will stay a problem when not added to the file. In pl it would become some easier when they where also added to the dop file so they can be transported.

All my raw files, d80,d300,d700,d750, are with keywords, since 2008. It has been the way Nikon did in CaptureNx and I continue with it.


Yes, I know that exiftool will retain a copy of the original file (unless you override it), but I thought we were talking about PL. :slight_smile:

Supported by exiftool means successfully reverse-engineered. Not that it doesn’t do a good job of it - I’ve used it myself to modify raw files when I’ve bungled a date setting in camera - but there’s really no knowing what writing arbitrary metadata into an undocumented raw file format will have on other applications that read these formats that they’ve also had to reverse-engineer. If every application were to start writing to raw files then there’s even more complexity for applications to deal with, so I think PL and others do the right thing by writing information to sidecars instead of to raw files.

Don’t forget that a RAW file is not one simple thing. It is a container that contains 1. the raw data, 2. a jpeg preview image, 3. metadata.

The metadata is strictly limited to a special part of the file that doesn’t interfere with the actual image data.

Tools like Phil Harvey’s excellent ExifTool only read from and write to that protected space. Most cameras also write to that same space fo things like copyright information, GPS data and, even sometimes, an information field.

Certainly, having the metadata in the same container as the image does mean that there is no need for the proliferation of sidecar files that we have when PL creates its own, as well as supporting read-only from an XMP file, but it also uses its own internal database for keywords, which means you can’t transfer the file (with its keywords) to another computer.

Personally, I would rather that, if PL supports keywords, that it (at least) read and wrote those keywords from the documented IPTC section of the EXIF data. That way, wherever the image goes, so do the keywords.

Manufacturers might add their own proprietary stuff to the EXIF section but, for keywords, there are already properly standardised and documented sections for keywords.

Otherwise it would be a very good idea for PL use the same XMP sidecar format that other software uses.

Sure, most of them are more-or-less TIFF, but the camera manufacturers don’t document any of this publicly as far as I know, in which case there are no guarantees. All of these formats are reverse-engineered and/or someone is paying for a specification.

It is a little different if it’s the latter though. I don’t really know if DxO and others are paying for specifications or reverse-engineering. I suspect a one-man-band like exiftool isn’t paying.

But that’s my point: there really is no documented IPTC section of EXIF in a raw file if the camera manufacturers aren’t publishing specifications. Yes, we see that the formats look familiar, but that’s not the same as a documented format.

Yes, this I agree with.

It’s great reading from people who know a helluva lot more than I do! I’m digging into DxO documentation later as I don’t see an IPTC pane to check if the keywords were embedded. I did check a RAW file with keywords in Graphic Convertor 11. The IPTC window in GC showed zip.

After much experimentation for my home-brewed DAM app, I can confirm that DxO doesn’t read the IPTC data for keywords. I use Exif Editor to add keywords if I really need them to be in the image file; otherwise, for my own use, I also use macOS Finder tags.