How to Batch Change Titles and Descriptions in Photos for macOS

by | Last updated Oct 2, 2018 | Organizing Digitals | 11 comments

Photos for macOSX - Batch Change graphic Have you ever wondered how to batch change the name and even the caption of multiple photos at a time in Photos for macOS, to the same information for all of them?

For example, you would want to do this if you had a group of photos all taken on the same day, during the same event, and you want to label them in a very similar way — if not the exact same way.

This is a very common need, and knowing how to do this in Photos is not as easy as it was in its predecessor, iPhoto.

How “Batch Change” Worked in iPhoto

iPhoto Application Icon

iPhoto for macOS

In iPhoto, there was an easy to find menu item, with a clear name called “Batch Change“.

After selecting the group of photos you wanted to modify, you then went up to “Photos” in the top menu bar, and clicked on “Batch Change” from the list of options. From the new window that slid down, you had a wonderful choice of changes you could make to all of your selected photos.

The choices were:

  • Set the Title to Text, Event Name, FileName, Date/Time or even make EmptyiPhoto batch change set title
  • Set the Date and Time the photos were taken to a new date and time; even the ability to add a set amount of time between each photo. You could also select whether you wanted to save this new date and time information to your original photos' files. iPhoto batch change date
  • Set the Description (caption) information for your photos, with the additional option to append this new description to their existing description. iphoto batch change description

As you're probably aware, Apple discontinued iPhoto and replaced it with Photos for macOS. And even though Photos is destined to improve with every version that comes out, years after its initial release, Photos still lacks some of the important features iPhoto already had — including “Batch Change”.

However, this doesn't mean there aren't some workarounds to produce at least some of the missing capabilities.

How “Batch Change” Currently Works in Photos for macOS

Photos for macOS icon

Photos for macOS

Okay, so at the time I'm finishing up this article, in the current version of Photos, there actually is a way to batch change your names (Titles) and captions (Descriptions).

It's not as obvious, nor does it offer as many choices as iPhotos did. But, at least it's actually quite easy to do once you're familiar with how it works.

Instructions:

1
Bring up the Info window that shows you the information (metadata) for each photo.
Press command ⌘ + I or click “Window” in the top menu bar and choose “Info”. Photos for macOS Info Window - Empty
2
Select two or more photos in Photos by selecting the first photo, and then hold down the command ⌘ key and click one or more additional photos.
If multiple photos are all next to each other, a faster way is to click on the first photo, and then hold down shift and then click the last photo of the group which “bookends” all of the photos together.
Now all photos you want to select are highlighted with a blue border. Three photos selected in Photos for macOS
3
In the Info window, click in the title or description field (or both), and enter in the information you want to be attributed to all of the selected images.
Then hit enter.

Photos for macOS Info Window - Title and Description filled out All of the information you entered should now be the same for all of the photos you had selected.

In the case of this example, if I click through each of the three photos, I will now see the Title and Descriptions are all the same in the Info window.

If you have “View > Metadata > Titles” selected, you will also now see the same Titles below each of your selected photos.Three photos with same Title in Photos for macOS

The Title Limitations of This Workaround

If your only objective was to “batch change” all Titles and/or Descriptions for a group of photos to the same information, then this solution more than likely solves your problem. However, if you were most interested in giving a group of photos a similar yet unique Title, then you're still going to have to take the process one step further.

iPhoto also gave you the option to append a number to the end of each photo's title, such as:

1978-04-xx Easter Sunday – 1 1978-04-xx Easter Sunday – 2

Even though you didn't have any control over how this number was generated, and how many digits it was made up of, it still was a simple solution to create similarly identified yet unique names (Titles) for each of your photos.

iPhoto batch change title description with numbers

How the titles would look if this batch change was performed in iPhoto with the “append a number to each photo” option checked.

Currently in Photos for macOS, if you also want the index number added at the end as well after performing this batch change process, you will have to manually have to go in and enter the identifying number at the end of each Title.

Hopefully, Apple is working on a major upgrade that will include all of the “Batch Change” options previously available in iPhoto. In the meantime, we will just have to hang in there and be optimistic this will happen sooner than later. In the meantime, maybe this trick will get you by.

I want to thank Deb from Connecticut for suggesting this post idea. And if you have an idea as well for an upcoming post, please let me know!

Curtis, I discovered your site years ago that thankfully helped me to label all my photos within iPhoto in such a way that the name I assigned remained with each photo when I backed it up to an external hard drive. This was the procedure you outlined: changing batch name, exporting the file to include “titles and keywords” and selecting “use title” for the file name to ensure the name of the photo was used outside of iPhoto.

I just updated my Mac to macOS Sierra version 10.12.3 and – IT DOESN'T OFFER THE BATCH CHANGE!!!! I'm devastated.

Each month I take all photos off my phone and label them and save them to external drive….they're all pics of my kids that I want to label in detail so I can look back years from now and the details of the pic.

Can you offer a way to do this with the new “Photos” on Mac? TIA!

Deb – CT

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