Timeature for Modifying the Image Date Field

by Charlie Miller

Aperture is great for adding metadata to digital photos, but I recently discovered a shortcoming while trying to modify some metadata on a series of images. Last week, after importing photos from two cameras into Aperture, I realized that the cameras’ clocks were not in sync and my photos would not accurately sort by date. I assumed this was no big deal, figuring I could simply use Aperture’s Batch Change operation to change the Image Date field on the affected photos.

Non-editable Image Date Field

Not the case. The Image Date field is not user-editable in Aperture: it’s generated during the import process from the EXIF information in your photos. If the imported photo does not contain this EXIF information — for example, a scanned photo — Aperture will use the file creation date as the value for the Image Date field. In either case, there’s nothing you can do within Aperture to modify this metadata. Micah detailed this dilemma in his article “Digitizing Your Film Archive with Aperture”.

Enter Timeature from developer Adam Tow. Timeature works in tandem with Aperture: select the photos whose Image Date you want to modify, then launch Timeature and it will automatically populate with the names and image dates of the selected images. You can adjust Image Dates in three ways: by date, setting a specific date; by increment, adding or subtracting time; or by EXIF, reseting the field to its original date.

Timeature with Name and Image Date Populated

Timeature is a handy little utility — for me it was incredibly useful and performed exactly as expected. It’s shareware: the download is fully functional, and will occasionally remind you to register. A license costs $15 US.


2007-07-13 11:44:01
Count me as one other who's a Timeature fan. I've only had to use it once, but it saved my life; there was a convention where I was heading up a team of photographers, and I foolishly forgot to have everyone synchronize their camera clocks.

By separating pictures out according to who had taken them, I was able to use Timeature to bring all the times into the same relative timezone, thus keeping the pictures in proper chronological order.

2007-07-13 11:55:50
Well, you CAN use Batch Change to change the time if the time zones are off, but that doesn't help in this particular situation.
John Faughnan
2007-07-13 13:49:41
I've been amazed how few people seem to care that iPhoto allows one to set the image date manually, but Aperture does not.

I've finally come to realize that this is a major difference between a family photographer and a pro. For someone managing shots of the kids, scans from old negatives, scans from prints, etc, the "date of the event" is the most important bit of metadata. For a pro, it evidently doesn't matter at all.

I refuse to buy Aperture unless they fix this -- even if they could fix the metadata performance issues (eg. use a decent database).

BTW, if you import from iPhoto, Aperture will honor the user-defined dates set in iPhoto.

2007-07-13 22:59:34
iView Media Pro has done this for years - if you have a copy, save the cash.
2007-07-15 07:35:54
and why the hell do i always get a sql.-error when trying to apply the changes of timeature to my images?

is it likely there will be an update?

2007-07-16 00:39:08
GraphicConverter does this too...
2007-07-16 06:42:56
yeah, but not after having imported the images into aperture.
and i am not eager in exporting all the misdated images, changing the dates and reimporting them to aperture.
i wouldn't need a piece of professional software like aperture if my goal was to live with workarounds.
2007-07-16 11:12:57
Timature gives MySQL errors as well.

A much more versatile tool is the EXIFtool package . Yes, it's a command line utility, requiring you to get your hands dirty in Terminal.app, but it does so much, and then some.

You need to adjust you images outside of Aperture, though. I sincerely hope Apple fixes this shortcoming in a next version of Aperture.