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Use Google Earth to Directly Geotag Your Photos with Geotagger for the Mac

[I am CEO of Zooomr]


One of my New Year's resolutions this year was to figure out how better to manage and control the metadata associated with my photographs. Last year I was hit with the realization that much of the metadata that I've stored up on Flickr with regards to my photographs was pretty much locked up. This is not necessarily done purposely, but all of a sudden it hit me that the literally hundreds of hours I'd spent tagging the thousands of photos of mine on Flickr may have very well been wasted hours given that I had no way to associate this data with the photos on my hard drive. While there are tools to download your photos from Flickr, there is no tool that I'm aware of today that allows you to easily retrieve both your photos AND your metadata.


This also holds true for my metadata with my Zooomr photos as well (although we are working to build a downloader that will allow you to download your photos and metadata from Zooomr in the future).


Further, my problem with my photos on Flickr is complicated even more by the fact that Flickr does not allow photos on their site larger than 10MB and most of my photos are over 10MB in size. So my photos on Flickr are reduced in both quality and size. So even if I could figure out how to get my metadata out of Flickr, I'm not sure it would be easy to get the metadata reassociated with my original files.


To make a long story short, my resolution this year was to stop using the metadata functionality at places like Flickr and Zooomr and to figure out how better to actually associate my photo metadata with my original photo files themselves. This is a better way to do things as when the files are uploaded to Flickr and Zooomr, both systems will automatically read file metadata and post it to your image record.


The first part of this was the easiest for me. I learned to better use the functionality of Adobe Bridge. With Adobe's Bridge software you can right click on any file (or multiple files) and select "File Info." Here you can then enter in keyword metadata that will automatically be recognized by both Flickr and Zooomr.


The second part though was the one that I thought would be harder, and that is my geotagging metadata. Both Zooomr and Flickr have cool geotagging functionality built into their sites. Zooomr uses Google's maps and Flickr uses Yahoo's maps. Both allow you to pinpoint exactly on the map where your photo was taken and then have cool ways to relate this info to other photos on their system. But here again, I've been hesitant to rely on these geotagging tools for two reasons. One, I don't want my geotags locked up and, two, I don't want to have to geotag twice, once for Flickr and once for Zooomr (geotagging on both systems is not so hard, but it is tedious).


So today I set about doing some research to find a better way to geotag my actual photo files on my hard drive and boy did I ever find it.


Geotagger 1.2 for the Mac is the best and easiest geotagging system I've used yet. Geotagger 1.2 works with Google Earth and makes geotagging your photos at the photo level simple. Basically all you need to do is to pinpoint on Google Earth where a photo was taken. Then go to your photos and drag the photos over the Geotagger application icon in your Mac's dock. Geotagger then auto geotags the EXIF data in these files and now you both own and control this data and it will automatically read and import into both Flickr and Zooomr.


Best of all Google Earth is the best application for finding and tagging your photos that I know of. I find it much easier and faster and more intuitive than either Flickr or Zooomr and this will make the task of geotagging my images much easier for me than before.


So now, most of the relevant metadata for my photos is all entered by me before I ever upload the images to any other photo sharing site. This gives me much greater control over my metadata and allows more flexibility with regards to sharing this metadata in multiple places online without having to re-enter it.


Entering metadata, both keyword metadata and geo metadata is still not the most fun thing to do in the world, but at least I'm doing it more efficiently now.


By the way, and as an aside, I did also get an email yesterday from Adam Nollmeyer of ACME Photography tipping me off to what looks like a great project to help people get their metadata out of Flickr. It's called the Flickr Metadata Synchr. I can't really try this app yet because I'm on a Mac and it's for PC Vista only best I can tell, but it certainly seems like a good app to help people get their metadata out of Flickr.

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Uploaded on April 17, 2007