Photos Questions - Finding Duplicates, Photo Meta Data

I have a couple of questions related to Photo management.

I have a massive collection of digital Family Photos dating back to 2000/2001 range. They are priceless photos. All my photos are on my macOS hard drive and most years are organized by year and event. The older years (2000 to 2005) are not organized in that manner and I’m finally going to try to get those years organized in the same way. All are backed up multiple places. Think of this library of Photos as my ‘master file’ or my ‘golden source’.

This is not really relevant to my question but for additional context, I then have a subset of those photos (from around 2014 when I moved to iPhone and started using my phone as my primary camera) in Apple Photos. I have a system where I download the photo files from my iPhone/Apple Photos to my ‘golden source’ library. Yes, its a very an old school approach but I like to have ‘ownership’ of the actual photo files (same with my Music :slight_smile: ).


  1. In many of the older years previously noted (2000-2005) I am finding a lot of duplicates. What is the community’s recommendation for finding and merging/removing duplicate photos on/in MacOS Finder OUTSIDE of Apple Photos (I’m aware there is a Duplicate feature in Apple Photos)?

  2. For some strange reason, a lot of these older photos have the incorrect date associated with them. There are photos dated, say 2008, that I know for a fact (by the age of my kids in the photos) are from 2001/02/03 range. I think there may have been a bad Hazel script or something that changed the date meta data of a large set of my older photos. Is there some sort of software app that can do a ‘deep analysis’ of these photos and their raw meta data to determine the correct dates for when these photos were taken?


Consider giving PhotoSweeper a test run. I’ve been using it to chip away at my 4TB and counting photo library and I’ve found it pretty helpful. You can configure it to sort through your image files to find exact duplicates, similar images, and series of shots and can set the parameters used to find duplicates to refine matching. It’s got other kinds of useful functionality as well, such as batch renaming.

I’m not sure it can help with misdated images, though.

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You sound like you know what you’re doing, so forgive me if I’m stating what may seem obvious.

When you’re looking at dates, are these the dates of the files (those that show in finder), or the date in the EXIF data of the photos?

It’s the dates in the EXIF data which matter.

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I know what I’m doing to a point, and then it gets ugly. :stuck_out_tongue:

Regarding the Photo dates, this is what I am looking at - the data in Finder. My son Ian was born in Jan 2003, so his 1st birthday was in Jan 2004. However, the date of this photo states April 2008 which is obviously incorrect. As noted, I think there was a bad Hazel script or something that changed things in some way. I’m really not sure.

Is there an app I can use to look at the EXIF data to see if it is different /accurate vs what is displayed in Finder? And then change it to the accurate date?

I began a similar photo cleanup project using powerphotos and I am very pleased with the results. Our photos are beyond priceless to us to the point that I have them on iCloud, Google photos, backed up with Time Machine to an external drive and off site via iDrive.

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I used the free trial of PowerPhotos to find duplicates when I undertook a similar project.

I’m now aware of any way to recover the old metadata unless you have a backup of the original un-hazeled copy. You can change the dates in Photos but it’s pretty tedious. I’m not sure if that changes the file metadata or only in the Photos database.

In theory, the information Finder’s preview shows you is the EXIF data. There are plenty of apps in the App Store and elsewhere that specifically target viewing and editing EXIF data. Since I now manage all my photos in Lightroom, I haven’t used any of them in an age so I can’t make a recommendation.

Another alternative to consider for viewing and editing photo metadata is Adobe Bridge, which is free.