Commenting photos – farewell Microsoft Picture Manager 2003
Well, um, me. You see, on a work laptop, it comes with Office, and it isn’t actually that bad: with the filmstrip along the bottom, and edit tools in the sidebar, I could crop and colour-correct my photos, and most importantly, rename them chronologically (eg. NYC 2010 – 01.jpg, etc). I could whip through an album pretty quickly, using default software and not spending a penny.
However – one thing I do miss, is the ability to write comments into the photos. The ‘Comments’ field in Windows XP Explorer (when viewing a Photo -> Properties) has remained resolutely blank, because it seemed that every app I had checked in the past either:
- Stored the comments in their own database, not in the original image, and hence tied you into their software
- Cost too much
- Was bloatware
Hence, I stuck with Picture Manager – I could see what it was doing, see what it didn’t, and that was that. I was determined that any software I used would store the info in the photo, in the EXIF data, so that it would stand alone from any particular software.
However – I stand corrected. It seems that although the comments field is still little-used, there is a rival, newer standard, that has long since taken over the market, and appears to be becoming the de-facto standard. This is the IPTC/XMP standard, and was developed for professional press photographers to mark up their photos, with titles, comments, tags, and more – as I read in this webpage. It appears that when Photoshop, Picasa, Irfanview, and other popular, up-to-date photo editing apps insert their comments, then they are inserting them into the image file itself, using this standard. So, I needn’t worry about futureproofing….
Anyway, what confirmed this it for me, is that Windows 7 natively supports this format, and will display such comments in the Properties window, as I wanted to in XP. Windows XP doesn’t – hey, it’s old! – but there are shell extensions such as IPTCExt to allow you to view and edit these.
And Windows 7? Does it really support it natively?
No More Picture Manager
There is one proviso though – I can’t go back to Picture Manager. I did try – I tried editing the photo above with Picture Manager (actually opening, editing, and saving, rather than doing a “Save As”) – and sure enough, it lost the IPTC comments. So – from now on, only new-generation photo apps need apply…