I am trying to organize my photographs with tags. The last time I have been doing this was about three years ago, so I have a lot of pictures to organize.

All of the photographs should have correct EXIF tags for the time they were shot. I want to manually add tags for the people appearing in the photos.

My requirements are simple. Labels should be stored inside the photos themselves, in the form of IPTC or XMP tags, and it should be easy to do mass tagging, say by selecting a bunch of photos and adding a common tag. Since this task is mostly visual, I'd rather not use command line tools. If possible, I would like to have the timing of the shot copied from EXIF to ITPC or XMP, in order to have all tags in the same format.

I have been trying to use Shotwell for this, but it is rather annoying. Shotwell wants me to import all the photos before being able to tag them, and this makes it difficult to go folder by folder and tag the pictures. It would be easier for me to tag the pictures beforehand and only then copy them into my main photo folder, which is where Shotwell looks for new pictures.

Are there any good tools to tag photos? I would need something like an EasyTag equivalent.

3 Answers 3


I finally settled on phraymd. While a little less polished than shotwell, it allows browsing the pictures in a folder and tag them without importing them.

I am accepting Tom's answer anyway, since that would work as well even if with a little more care, and shotwell is already there by default.

  • Andrea if phraymed worked best for you, you should choose that as your answer. The community will also pick one by up/downvotes, they don't have to be the same. I never heard of phraymed before but I would probably use it along with Shotwell if I was doing this again. You can edit your answer or mine, and then switch the accepted answer if you like. Make the best answer and then make it easy to find for people reading this later. Mar 8, 2012 at 8:53
  • FYI, phraymd is now picty
    – Matt G
    Jan 22, 2017 at 1:51

I recently did this with a large photo collection, and I recommend you stay with Shotwell for this. You have to use a few tricks to get what you want though.

First, make sure you set 'Write tags, titles and other metadata to photo files' in Shotwell, like in @Paradiesstaub's comment.

If the folder names are to be used for tagging, say like 'New Year's Eve', then import folders individually and tag that batch, they'll be listed as 'Last Import' at the top left of the Shotwell window.

Once you get all your folders imported, tag everyone. Once you have everything tagged, it's already written to the individual files. You can move them around and the tags stay.

At this point, you can leave the files in the original folders, or have Shotwell organise them. I chose to have Shotwell organise them by Year and Month sub-folders. To do this, I selected all the files, and exported them from Shotwell to a backup drive. Then, I deleted everything from Shotwell, and re-imported from the backup drive. Now I just import and tag new ones as I go, and Shotwell watches the directory and keeps it organised.


F-spot or Shotwell are very popular and can manage photos and create databases. You will be able to edit metadata and folders.

However, importing data form one to the other is not recommended, regression of metadata (tags) will suffer. They do not share the same database format.

This is a good comparison between the two: http://ubuntu.paslah.com/photo-management-shotwell-f-spot-and-cheese/

  • 1
    Both require me to import the photos before being able to work with them. As I outlined in my question, I would need to scan specific folders before importing the photos, to avoid mixing completed folders with those containing pictures yet to be tagged. At the very least, I would need support for two separate libraries.
    – Andrea
    Mar 4, 2012 at 17:00
  • By the way, what do you mean by metatag regression? Don't both support XMP tags?
    – Andrea
    Mar 4, 2012 at 17:01
  • 1
    Don't forget to set 'Write tags, titles and other metadata to photo files' in Shotwell!!! Mar 4, 2012 at 18:15

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