Modding MacMetaMod

One of the huge benefits of going to a digital workflow for photography is it makes it much easier to catalog, store, and backup one’s images. As I’ve been shooting digital for over 12 years now, I have a large image collection, and as I add images online on my web site, or on stock image sites, I like to have them already keyworded. Keywording makes it easier for me and search engines to find the images.

In addition to the actual image data, the most common image file formats (PSD, JPG, TIFF) can also store EXIF data. EXIF stands for Exchangeable Image File Format. EXIF data can include the date and time the photo was taken, what kind of camera and lens was used along with many of the settings used, copyright info and lots more. One of the metatags used is for keywords, which allow you to tag each image with keywords associated with that image. For example, if I take a picture of a Victorian house in Ferndale, CA, I could tag it with the keywords: Victorian, architecture, house, residential, Ferndale, California, Humboldt County.

There are lots of programs that allow you to add keywords to your images. With Mac OS X you can use the included Preview program. Photoshop, the most common image editing program has the capability either through Photoshop itself, or the included Bridge program. But up to this point, I found most EXIF editing programs cumbersome to use. Photoshop’s implementation is good if you have batches of files that need the same keywords, and you want to keep them consistent from shoot to shoot.

But often I want to go through a bunch of images and add keywords specific to each image, and Photoshop doesn’t make that easy.

I recently stumbled upon a freely available Mac program that makes does exactly what I wanted, MacMetaMod. This application works as a droplet. In the Finder, grab a bunch of image files, drop them on the icon for MacMetaMod, and you are given the option to either assign keywords to the whole batch, or progress through them individually. If you click the “Prompt for each file” button, it will display a thumbnail of the image, and you can then type your keywords. Press return and the keywords are saved, and the next image is shown. This makes it easy to enter keywords as you can do everything quickly from the keyboard.

MacMetaMod original version

The only thing that bothered me is that the image was shown as a 250wx150h pixel thumbnail, which for many images is too small to see the details that you might want to keyword. I contacted the developer, Mark Harris, to see if a larger image could be displayed in the next version. He responded back to me that he was no longer developing MacMetaMod, but he mentioned that the source was in the application and if I was a bit nerdy I could find it and change the program myself.

While I’ve done lots of programming, none of it has been creating Mac applications so I wasn’t really sure where to start. But I knew that often what appears as a Mac application icon, is really a disguised folder icon. So I right clicked on the MacMetaMod application and sure enough there was a “Show Package Contents” option, so I chose that. That opened a Finder window with one folder, Contents. Opening the Contents folder I found a bunch of files and folders. Now what?

I poked around them for awhile and of course the one I wanted was towards the end of the list after drilling down into the Resources folder. Using BBEdit I opened the pashua_config.txt file and edited these two lines:

#thumbimage.maxwidth = 250 #thumbimage.maxheight = 150

After changing both dimensions to 600, I saved the file, and that was it. The next time the program started, it displayed a larger image that made the keywording much easier.

MacMetaMod after image resized