How to Get Your Photos Out of iPhoto With Your Titles and Descriptions Intact

by | Last updated May 29, 2017 | Organizing Digitals | 105 comments

“Hi, Firstly, thank you for your tips about adding descriptions in your post ‘The Best Way to Add a Description (Caption) to Your Scanned Photos.'

I tried what you suggested with iPhoto (’11), but the description was not exported to Preview and it wasn’t included in emailed photos.”


Hey Carol, thanks for your comment! And you know, I bet there are a lot of people having this problem, so let me try and shed some light on this.

First, here's a short but easy-to-follow video tutorial I put together with lots of explanation and detail that will show you exactly how to get your photos out of iPhoto with your titles and descriptions (captions) intact.

(Problems playing video? Click here)

For anyone who is unable to watch or listen, I have provided [CC] captions in the video as well as a full text transcript below.

Transcription of Video

Hey everybody. It’s Curtis Bisel from and in this video, I want to show you how you can get photographs out of iPhoto but still maintain the titles and descriptions that you spent a lot of time typing in.

So here’s an iPhoto library that I’ve created. It has got about eight events in it. So I’m going to click on the first event and you can see there’s only one photo in here. If I click on the photo, then the info button here at the bottom, the info panel will open up and you can see that I’ve already typed in a description for this photo, “Mom holding Curtis the first day home from the hospital,” and you can see over here the title that I gave the photograph, Mom Holding Curtis. A better way for us to see the title is to go up to View and make sure that Titles is selected. Now you can see the title underneath the photograph.

OK. So let’s say you want to get this photo out of iPhoto to send to someone and still maintain this title and description. Now Apple has done a great job of making us feel like we can drag and drop everything, so most of us will probably try this. We will just click on the photo and drag it to our desktop.

Now everything looks fine except for right here, the filename doesn’t have the same filename as the title. The thing is, it’s kind of hard to know whether the title and description information actually is in the photograph, because a lot of applications don’t utilize or pull this information from the photo.

Even if you were to click on the photo and hit Command I for information, you can see even over here it doesn’t display title or caption or description information. So I’m going to control click or right click on the file and choose Open With and iExifer which is an app that I bought on the App Store and if this photograph had a title or description saved inside the photograph, we would see it listed down here under IPTC.

Now IPTC stands for iPhoto Technical Crap [comical car horn sound]. No, I’m just kidding. It actually stands for International Press Telecommunications Council and the reason I know this is because I looked it up on Wikipedia because no one should know this off the top of their head.

Now this IPTC metadata information was originally created for news organizations so that photographers and companies could maintain their copyright and ownership information with the photo. But what’s cool is now we can use that information to label our personal photos.

OK. So if the photo doesn’t have this information in it, how do we get the photo out and have that information stay with it? The trick is not dragging and dropping the photo. The trick is to actually export the photo and choose the right selections.

So I’m going to select the photo again. Go up to File. Choose Export and a window will pop up and in this first tab under File Export, you will see Kind. Now for whatever reason, Apple only allows you to choose JPEG or TIFF to export your photo out and maintain titles and descriptions. I don’t know why, because man, there are times I really want to use original or current.

I’m currently using iPhoto 11 version number 9.2.1 and these two formats seem to be the only way.

Since a lot of people use their photographs to post on social networking sites and the email, I’m going to choose JPEG and then medium quality which will make the file size really small but still have a pretty good look to it.

If your goal is to have the highest quality, I would choose either JPEG and maximum or I would choose TIFF and maximum, and then make sure size is set to full size.

So I’m going to put it back to JPEG and then put the quality at medium and here’s where the magic happens. You want to put a check mark right here next to title and keywords. Now what this is going to do is it’s going to force iPhoto to export out your photo with the title, the keywords, if you have any, and the description embedded inside of the image. So when you send or give this photo to someone, this information will stay intact.

Then for filename, there are several options. One of which is Use Filename and what this is going to do is save this file using the filename that was originally given to this image either from the camera that you took it with, the digital camera or the filename that you gave your scan before you imported it.

For this tutorial, I’m going to choose Use Title. So I’m going to click on Export and then you can see for Save As, the filename defaults to the title Mom Holding Curtis and I’m going to choose Desktop and then click on OK. And there it is right here in the desktop. The image is called MomHoldingCurtis.jpeg. All right. Let’s see if it worked.

I’m going to control click or right click, if you have a two-button mouse, choose Open With and again for me, I’m going to choose this lightweight program called iExifer and at the bottom, we will see if the IPTC is there and there it is. You can see right there. Under caption, it has got, “Mom holding Curtis the first day,” and unfortunately it’s cut off a bit but that’s just what happens with this program. And then under Object Name, you can see Mom holding Curtis which is the title that we gave the image.

Another way we can see this information is to open the file with Preview that comes with Mac. Again, I’m going to control click or right click on the image. Choose Open With and then Preview.

Aww, I love that photo. You want to go up to Tools now and choose Show Inspector and a new window will open up over here on the right and then you want to choose this second tab for show Info Inspector and then you will see the IPTC tab right here and there it is. Under Caption/Description, there is our description and there’s our title.

Now there are ways to export multiple files at the same time. Here’s an event with multiple images and you can either lasso multiple images or command clicking on each one. Now after choosing File and then Export, all of your selected images will now be exported with titles and descriptions.

Now if you come to this address on my website, that’s for YouTube Video 2 and if you’re watching this on YouTube, you can click on the link directly below this video, you will find step-by-step written instructions of what you just watched as well as the super cool instructions on how you can email a photo right out of iPhoto and the title and description will be written right underneath the photo in the recipient’s email.

So thank you so much for watching. Cheers!

Further Explaination

So Carol, you bring up a shortcoming that I think iPhoto has — well really, a lot of the image managers and photo editors. I mean, Apple makes it so easy to change the titles (names) of your photos and add descriptions (captions) to them, but it seems anytime you want to do something with these titles and descriptions, well… you can't.

If you are at all confused here, below is an example of a photograph with a title and description I just added. The description is the best place to write what you would hand write on the back of a paper print explaining what's in the picture. And the title is a where you can give the photo a name to differentiate it from others.

iphoto how to export email photo title descriptions

Here is a photo with a name (title) and caption (description) that I just typed in. (iPhoto '11 v.9.2.1)

If you would like to learn more about how to enter in titles and descriptions, check out my detailed post “The Best Way to Add a Description (Caption) to Your Scanned Photos.” It not only covers iPhoto, but also the three other photo managers I recommend.

So what Carol is having problems with is once you have this information typed in, how do you get your photos out of iPhoto with this info intact. Once it's out, she wants to be able to load this photo in the application Preview and to also send it through email and have the description text go with it.

Sounds easy — right?

Well if you drag an image from iPhoto onto your desktop, a copy of the image is created, but all of the text you typed in doesn't follow.

The problem is iPhoto and a lot of photo managers appear to be a little stingy with the information you type into them. It almost seems like they are afraid that at any moment, you are going to consider jumping ship and leave them for a different photo manager, so they make it harder than it should be for you to get all of your hard work out from it.

In the case of iPhoto, I think it's safe to assume most of their users are happy with iPhoto and won't see the need to go elsewhere. But, that being said, there are definitely a lot of times where you would love to use these titles and descriptions elsewhere.

The good news is there are ways to get your photos and descriptions out, you just have to do it in the few ways iPhoto allows you to. It's basically the equivalent of as asking, “pretty please?”

How to Email Photos From iPhoto with Titles and Descriptions:

So let's tackle how to email a photo from within iPhoto, but with the title and description intact. Unfortunately for some, as far as I can tell, you have to email using the Apple application “Mail” that comes installed free with OS X.

1 First, make sure iPhoto is set up to email photos using the application “Mail.” Click on “iPhoto” at the top in the Menu Bar and select “Preferences” from the list in the pulldown. Select the “General” tab on the far left. Make sure the item “Email photos using:” has “Mail” selected in the pulldown next to it. If it isn't, change it. Then close this window out.

iPhoto Preferences set to email using Mail

2 Select (highlight) a photo or multiple to email and then click the “Share” button at the bottom right hand side of the iPhoto application window. Then click on “Email” from the list that pops up. Optionally, you can skip the share button and click on “Share” at the top of the application in the Menu Bar and then choose “Email” from the list.

iPhoto Share and Email menu option

3 A small window will now pop up and ask you to choose a few options before proceeding into the Mail application. For “Size“, choose whatever size you would like. (Most will probably use “Medium” or “Large”)Now, what's most important is the second item — “Include:” You want to make sure you put a check mark next to “Titles” and “Descriptions” if you in fact have information in both. Since I have both in my example, I will check each one.Also check “Location information” if the GPS/map information is important for your to include as well.

Click “Compose Message” and it will take you into the application “Mail” with your photo.
iPhoto Email Window for Description and Title Text Information

Email composed in Mail with photo attached with iPhoto title and description included

Notice iPhoto and Mail worked together to include not only the photo inside this email. The title and description are automatically included at the bottom of the photo. The title also becomes the default subject line.

So this is a great way to quickly email someone your photos when you want them to read the titles and descriptions of your photos from within the email. The problem is if they save the attached image from your email, the photo won't have this information saved inside of it.

I know! Jeez. It seems that iPhoto just used the title and description to create the text inside of the email, and doesn't embed this text inside of the photo.

iPhoto safely keeps all of your titles and descriptions inside of the iPhoto Library file (database). When you load an image in iPhoto, it brings up the photo and then loads this information from the database separately and then displays them together.

So now what?

How DO you get the photos out of iPhoto and have your titles and descriptions embedded (saved) inside of the photo?

How to Export Photos From iPhoto with Titles and Descriptions:

“Exporting” your photo out of iPhoto is the trick, but even then you have to select the right settings to make it work.

Once the image has been exported, your titles, descriptions, keywords and even location information (if you so choose) is then saved inside the image so you will no longer need the help of iPhoto to access and view this information.

Additionally, you can then also email this exported image to someone with whichever email software you choose (not just with Mail as per the instructions above) and still maintain the title and description.

Something to keep in mind though, some image programs still don't handle this (IPTC) metadata yet, so you can't expect universal access to it. But just know, as long you don't accidentally overwrite this information with another program, your information will always be saved inside of that image you just exported.

1 Select (highlight) a photo or multiple and then click on “File” from the top Menu Bar and then click “Export” from the list. (Optionally you can hit SHIFT-COMMAND-E)If you would like to export a large quantity of photos, I would recommend selecting an entire “Event” full of photos and exporting it to its own folder named the same as your iPhoto Event.

iPhoto Export Option from Menu Bar


2 Choose the “File Export” tab from the top of this new window. The main thing you're looking for here is the “Include:” boxes in the middle of this window. Notice how similar this is to the previous instructions to email? You want to put a check mark next to “Title and keywords” if you want your metadata such as title, description and keywords to be “embedded” into your the image that you are about to create in the export.Unfortunately, for whatever reason Apple has, you can only choose this box if you choose “JPEG” or “TIFF” from the “Kind” option at the top. I know, I know — write Apple! I'm just the messenger here.For the “File Name“, you can choose “Use Title” if you would like the new image to be labeled now with the title you gave it inside of iPhoto.Click “Export” and then choose where you would like to save this new image — such as your desktop — and then click “ok.”

iPhoto Export window with title and keywords and file name options


Click “Export” and then choose where you would like to save this new image — such as your desktop. The filename will default to your given “title” if you chose that in the prior menu. You can change this here though if you would like. When you are done click “ok.”

iPhoto Export "Save As" Window

So now, if you look on the desktop or in the folder where you told iPhoto to export your photo, you should see your image. You can do with it as you please.

Understand that this is a duplicate copy. Exporting is not moving, it's copying. So your original image is still safely saved inside of iPhoto. By exporting, you created another copy of it with the options you chose in the process.

iPhoto Exported image on desktop with title

To test this export, just to make sure the text “metadata” remained intact, I loaded up this image into a program I bought from the Apple App store called iExifer. This is a third-party piece of software that that I picked up cheaply that will display camera EXIF as well as (IPTC) metadata such as captions and descriptions.

You can see in the screenshot below, the title and description are completely intact. They were saved inside of this new image so anywhere you send this photo, this information will now go with it!

iPhoto Exported image viewed in iExifer to show title and description

iExifer displaying iPhoto's title (labeled as (Object Name” in iExifer) and description (labeled as “Caption/Abstract” in iExifer)

Now back to Carols original concern. In addition to emailing, she also wanted to view her titles and descriptions in Apple's application Preview that is built into OS X.

How to View Your Photos From iPhoto In Preview with Titles and Descriptions:

1 If your image won't open using Preview by double clicking it, hold down the Control key and click the image. From the options list, select “Open With” and then choose “Preview” from the list of applications.

iPhoto Preview Open With Titles and Descriptions

2 Once your image is loaded in Preview, go up to “Tools” in the Menu Bar at the top of your monitor and select “Show Inspector” from the list. (Optionally you can hit Command-I)

iPhoto Preview Show Inspector titles and descriptions


From the Inspector window that just opened up, select the “Info Inspector” tab at the top that is labeled with a lower case “i” in a circle. This will then reveal all of the available metadata inside. To see your titles, descriptions and keywords, choose the IPTC tab. You may have to click and drag this window to be a little wider to show the entire length of your description.

iPhoto title description keywords viewed in apple preview application

Here is how your titles, keywords and descriptions will look when viewed in Apple's Preview App inside of the “Inspector” (Command-I)

Alright, so I think that just about does it. This should make you breath a little easier knowing you aren't locked into using iPhoto for the rest of your life, just to view your titles and descriptions.

And also keep in mind Apple updates their software at least a couple times a year. So, I think it's safe to assume this entire process you just learned could eventually get even easier as newer versions are released and IPTC metadata becomes even more widely used.

If you have any further questions, feel free to ask them below in the comments.


Are You Ready to Get Serious With Your Photo Collection?

Join 10,280+ people enjoying the exclusive newsletter, tutorials, occasional blog updates, and tips and tricks you won't find anywhere else on this website sent right to your inbox.

Are You Ready to Get Serious With Your Photo Collection?

Join 10,280+ people enjoying the exclusive newsletter, tutorials, occasional blog updates, and tips and tricks you won't find anywhere else on this website sent right to your inbox.

Popular Posts

Epson Scan 2 — Will It Work With My Scanner?
Epson Scan 2 — Will It Work With My Scanner?

Epson quietly released a new version of their popular scanning software “Epson Scan” that comes bundled with their document and flatbed photo scanners. But, there’s already been confusion as to which scanners and operating systems it supports. Could it be possible that “Epson Scan 2” won’t even run in the latest versions of Microsoft Windows?

Epson V800 vs V850 — The 5 Differences and Which You Should Buy
Epson V800 vs V850 — The 5 Differences and Which You Should Buy

So you’re ready to buy a very high-quality flatbed scanner to digitize your analog prints and film, but now you’re having a hard time deciding between the Epson Perfection V800 Photo and the Epson Perfection V850 Pro Photo Scanners.

Whether you or an avid hobby photographer, a true professional, or just want to get all the quality you can out of your prints and film, either one of these models is going to give you exceptional results. But, I want to help you feel confident you’re going to make the right choice.

Below, in plain English that will make it very easy to understand, I’ve written out and explained in detail, the 5 differences between the two models.

Are 99.9% of Your Photographs Just Not Important Enough To Save?
Are 99.9% of Your Photographs Just Not Important Enough To Save?

If this was your entire photo collection sitting in this trash can in the photo above, would this make you actually feel relief … or utter panic?

What if I added to this scenario. What if to the best of your knowledge, all of your photos sitting in the trash were already scanned and safely backed up on a couple of your hard drives.

Do you now feel relieved … or still utterly panicked?

From everyone I have talked to about this scenario, it seems safe for me to say that I believe the world is in somewhat of a divide whether it’s actually okay to throw away your prints and slides once they have been scanned and digitally preserved.

And for some, hopefully not too many, I am sure they would say it’s okay to throw away many if not most photos before they were scanned and preserved.

Yes. You heard me.

If You Don’t Add This to the Filename of Your Scanned Photos, You’ll Probably Hate Yourself Later
If You Don’t Add This to the Filename of Your Scanned Photos, You’ll Probably Hate Yourself Later

Whether you keep all of your scanned master (original) image files in folders on a hard drive, or you allow an image manager like Picasa, iPhoto or Aperture to manage them inside a library file, you will still be required to give each photo a filename.

It could be as simple and non-descriptive as “photo-1.jpg” or maybe even simple yet somewhat descriptive like “mom at the beach 1984.tif”.

But, it’s actually a very important part of the process of scanning photos, that if done with a little bit of forethought, can save you a lot of time and headache later.

My Inspiring Photo Scanning Progress Report for April 2012
My Inspiring Photo Scanning Progress Report for April 2012

Welcome to my third monthly progress report!

Last month I covered two complete months of scanning, but I learned that was just too much to talk about!

So this time is only one month and it’ll be a lot shorter.

What This Progress Report Is Really About:

Every month, I am posting a detailed report — just like this one — sharing with you how far I have come with my goal to scan and restore my entire 10,000+ family photo collection.

By doing so, I hope to inspire you to do the same!

In my first progress report, I set a goal for myself to do a little bit of work on my collection every single day. I shoot for about an hour a day which turns out to be about 30 scans a day. And I am going to record and detail each one of them so that you can learn from my transparency.

I don’t want to be “that guy” — a guy that tells you how you should scan your own photos but then sends all of my own to a scanning service to do the work for me.

How Quickly You Could Scan Your Entire Photo Collection — What I Discovered From My First Week of Scanning
How Quickly You Could Scan Your Entire Photo Collection — What I Discovered From My First Week of Scanning

So you have a closet with boxes full of old prints and slides that you are dying to have scanned and neatly organized on your computer.

The problem is, you’re worried about it either costing you way too much money to send it to a scanning service, or taking too much of your precious free time to scan them yourself on a flatbed scanner.

Does this sound EXACTLY like your dilemma?

I’d like to share with you my experience back scanning photos for the first week. If you want to make scanning your own photos fit into your busy and hectic life, I think my experience here might give you an idea how much time will be involved and how many photos you can easily get through.

The Best Way to Add a Description (Caption) to Your Scanned Photos
The Best Way to Add a Description (Caption) to Your Scanned Photos

Ah, there’s nothing quite like reading a great caption to go along with a special photograph. Sometimes they’re so effective, they just seal the emotional experience of being there—as if you were right there when that photograph was taken—even if you weren’t!

I think it’s so important that you record these “priceless” descriptions as soon as you can. Some of us might think we can remember all of the details. But face it, you probably won’t be able to. They’re fleeting. And even if you could, you and your memory aren’t going to be on this earth forever.

With prints, it was easy to record this information by writing the stories by hand on the back. But, now that we are wishing to move our prints, slides and negatives to a digital form in our computer, how do we easily add this information so that it can live with each master image file?

Use 1 of These Photo Managers If You Care About Your Photo Collection
Use 1 of These Photo Managers If You Care About Your Photo Collection

It was seriously a life changing day when I discovered the magic of a “non-destructive” photo managing program.

With “non-destructive” editing, all of the edits (enhancements) you make to your photographs are managed by the program itself. Your original photo remains untouched. It’s like having a guardian angel that protects your master images at all costs. It’s brilliant and is 100% absolutely indispensable to me now.

What Everybody Ought to Know When Naming Your Scanned Photos – Part 1
What Everybody Ought to Know When Naming Your Scanned Photos – Part 1

As my own scanned photo collection grows, it has really become obvious to me how thankful I am for the added attention I have been putting into the filenames I give to all of my scanned images.

When you’re scanning, it’s really easy to get into a “robotic” mindset where you are just trying to scan as many photos as possible in a sitting. So when you get to that blank field each time that asks you to type in a name for the file, it’s tempting to just quickly bang out a few descriptive words with little thought to how useful they will be to anyone later.

The DPI You Should Be Scanning Your Paper Photographs
The DPI You Should Be Scanning Your Paper Photographs

One of the most important decisions you face when scanning anything with your scanner is choosing what dpi (“dots per inch”) to scan with. And specifically for this post, what is the best dpi to use when scanning and archiving your 8×10″ and smaller paper photographic prints – which for most people, make up the majority of our pre-digital collection.

Making this decision was very challenging for me and certainly a huge part of my 8 year delay. The reason for this is that dpi is the critical variable in a fairly simple mathematical equation that will determine several important outcomes for your digital images.

Related Posts

How to Batch Change Titles and Descriptions in Photos for macOS

How to Batch Change Titles and Descriptions in Photos for macOS

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.

Q&A: How Do I Add Photos Already On My Storage Drives Into Picasa? (Video)

Q&A: How Do I Add Photos Already On My Storage Drives Into Picasa? (Video)

A lot of people have photos stored in folders on their storage drives, so it makes sense that if you’ve never used a photo manager before, they can seem a little daunting as far as understanding how they interact with your photos already being stored on your computer.

In this Q&A style tutorial video, I answer a question I received from a reader of Scan Your Entire life on how Picasa fundamentally works to select which photos on your internal or external storage drives are used inside of the application.

Basically, I feel what’s in this video is the most important thing to understand in order to get the most out of Picasa.

Leave a Comment Below

Subscribe by email to new comments without commenting
Notify of

oldest most voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments