Fixing Dates in Image EXIF Tag Data from Linux

Posted by admin on June 21, 2009 under Tech Tips | 4 Comments to Read

I recently needed to organize a large number of old digital photos that had the wrong date embedded in their EXIF tag data. The camera I used many years ago would often lose track of time and would sometimes be set to the wrong year. Applications I now use to organize photos read this data and made my albums difficult to navigate. I came across a Linux command line utility called jhead that allows you to modify this information to whatever you wish, and its easy to use in scripts as well.  Installing was easy, because it’s currently in most repositories, including Ubuntu’s.

To read existing EXIF tag data, simply run jhead against an image without any options. As you can see from the example below, my date is set to the year 2022.

jhead image.jpg
File name : image.jpg
File size : 159390 bytes
File date : 2004:01:12 07:35:23
Camera make : Samsung
Camera model : Digimax 200
Date/Time : 2022:02:12 04:04:17
Resolution : 800 x 600
Flash used : Yes
Exposure time: 0.045 s (1/22)
Aperture : f/2.8

To clear all EXIF data from the file, use the -de option. Then recreate the EXIF fields with the -mkexif option, and check the data again. Notice the new Date/Time is set to the timestamp on the file.

jhead -de image.jpg
Modified: image.jpg

jhead -mkexif image.jpg
Modified: image.jpg

jhead image.jpg
File name : image.jpg
File size : 147751 bytes
File date : 2004:01:12 07:35:23
Date/Time : 2004:01:12 07:35:23
Resolution : 800 x 600

To change the entire timestamp manually, use the -ts option. Notice, there is no space between the -ts and the option. I could not trust the month and day, so I simply chaged the date to midnight on January 1, 2003.

jhead -ts2003:01:01-00:00:00 image.jpg
Modified: image.jpg

jhead image.jpg
File name : image.jpg
File size : 147751 bytes
File date : 2004:01:12 07:35:23
Date/Time : 2003:01:01 00:00:00
Resolution : 800 x 600

For many more options, check out the man page or visit the jhead site for more info.