Why are my tags not working after copying from iCloud?

I recently had to copy my photos from iCloud to desktop, and now when I search for a tag, the file cannot be found. Even though when I’m looking through my folders in DXO, the photos show up fine.

The tags don’t show up in the files when I click on them too, but when I search the files do pop up, it just says the source file could not be found.

Copying files to a different location does not necessarily update PhotoLab’s database, which is the basis for PhotoLab’s search.

I propose that you

  1. back up the current database (from PhotoLab’s menu)
  2. quit out of PhotoLab
  3. delete the database (/Users/X/Library/PhotoLab vX/DOPDatabaseVX…(3 files)
  4. restart PhotoLab
  5. in DPL’s Photo Library browser, select the root folder of the photo archive you just copied from iCloud
  6. ctrl-click on that folder and select to index that folder
  7. wait until finished (takes about one minute per 1’000 image files on a recent Mac)


  • All your photos are in a tree of folders (“archive”) starting with one (“root”) folder
  • All your photo files have their sidecars (.dop and .xmp for RAW files) or metadata saved (DNG, JPEG and TIFF)

@platypus Thank you so much for your help. I followed your directions, but couldn’t figure out how to do step 6. Could you give me more details on that? How do I ctrl click a folder?

Press and hold the control key and click with your mouse button. This should produce a context menu with an item that, when selected, will scan the selected folder and everything within it.

If you’re using PhotoLab in a version prior to 7, indexing can be started with the item at the top of the folder browser in the left dock in PhotoLab’s PhotoLibrary view.

Is there any way to get my tags back? Right now all of the question mark images are gone when I search for a tag but none of the tags are applied to the photos.

If the tags haven’t returned after indexing, they have not been saved…and the one way to get them back is to restore the database to the one you saved. This will set you back to before step one, and before proceeding we need to know what format files you use (RAW, DNG, TIFF, JPEG) and if there are .dop files for all your RAWs.

I have RAW files, I’m using .dop files for every single photo

Please check a few .dop files. Do they contain entries for tags? What about .xmp sidecars?

How do I check that?

Open them in a text editor and look for something like…

	ColorLabel = "Orange",

Or are you talking about Finder Tags?

I’m talking about keywords.

What did you store in the iCloud and what did you copy back?


Ah! In the Mac world, “Tags” refers to Finder Tags, which are managed by macOS and which transfer automatically when copying/moving from one drive to another. PhotoLab has absolutely no knowledge of Finder Tags.

My suggestion was that you might have meant Labels, which PhotoLab does know about.

Keywords can be written to both JPEG and RAW although whilst they are written directly to non-RAW files, for RAW files, they are written to XMP sidecars.

If you didn’t transfer any XMP sidecar files when you transferred the images, that will be the reason why PhotoLab can’t find them in their new location.

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all .dop files and all the images.

So is there any way to fix it or do I need to make keywords again?

No xmp files?
Try edit>preferences>general>load settings from sidecar file and restart PL
I’ve save and set both on. I don’t know what is in your dop. In my dop the keywords are mentioned.


Keywords (and other metadata) can be in the image files, the .dop and/or .xmp sidecars and PhotoLab’s database.

Which one takes precedence after the database, I cannot say right now, but the user manual might have the relevant information.

Can you just post a DOP file for an image that is showing keywords?

Also, are you working on RAW files?

Sadly we cannot see into your system, only by the words and images you supply and the answers to the questions we pose!!

Isn’t the issue that they have all “vanished”, i.e. the move from iCloud to, presumably local disk (!?), means they have “vanished” when the images changed location (my reading of the previous posts).

This would imply that the only source of keywords is then either the DOP or image metadata (embedded for JPG, TIFF & DNG or sidecar for RAW), if the image metadata actually exists outside the DxPL database and the DOP.

The DOP has keywords here in a Windows DOP

The only thing that will prevent the DOP keywords being added to the image data in the database on “first discovery”, which is what we have if the data has moved location, is the setting of the “synchronize” field in the preferences either ON or OFF (Selected or left unselected)?

If the setting is OFF then DxPL will take the metadata from the DOP, if one exists, or from the image if there is no DOP.

If taken from the image I believe that the order is sidecar then embedded @platypus.

If the setting is ON then DxPL will ignore the data in the DOP and expect to find metadata in the image. If it is absent then no metadata will be added to the database and the metadata in the DOP will be overwritten by … empty fields, i.e. lost.

We have two issues, recovering from this current situation and then ensuring that such operations do not go wrong in the future!

@aloha some basic questions

  1. Do you have a dump from just prior to the movement of data from iCloud?
  2. Is the data in iCloud still intact/accessible?
  3. Do you have any xmp files associated with the image?
  4. Were you adding keywords to the images in DxPL/using DxPL as the only keyword editor.?
  5. We are assuming that “Tags” means keywords, i.e. “Worthing” assigned to an image in my case. Is this assumption correct?

The data for the old entries should still be in the database but attached to the old location of the data. I have hacked Win 10 DxPL databases but you would need to rely on Mac users to help you with that!

How large a problem are we dealing with, e.g. a 1,000 images or even more?