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Exiftool Scripts for Google Photos from Google Takeout

TL;DR

To fix the metadata and clobber the originals:

exiftool -@ use_json.args <takeout_dir>
exiftool -@ jpg_to_mp4.args <takeout_dir>
exiftool -@ jpg_to_png.args <takeout_dir>
exiftool -@ png_to_jpg.args <takeout_dir>
exiftool -@ was_jpg_now_mp4.args <takeout_dir>
exiftool -@ was_jpg_now_png.args <takeout_dir>
exiftool -@ was_png_now_jpg.args <takeout_dir>

And if you like gambling:

exiftool -@ looks_like_a_date.args <takeout_dir>
exiftool -@ burst.args <takeout_dir>
exiftool -@ date_from_folder.args <takeout_dir>

Background

The photos I have taken over the years are scattered across a large number of storage media - phones, laptops, cloud services, memory cards, external drives, NAS, etc.

I've been slowly trying to consolidate them into a central location so that I can view all of them at once. And the chosen destination is a local media server.

Part of this effort is to get all of my photos off of Google Photos and copied locally. Google provides access to this quite easily using Google Takeout, but unfortunately, the photos are a bit of a mess.

Specifically, the photos themselves generally lack metadata that would allow other external programs to accurately index them. But the takeout artifacts usually have a corresponding JSON file that does have that metadata.

Goal

The goal is to use Exiftool to merge the metadata found in the JSON files into the EXIF/PNG/QuickTime/etc tags in the photos/videos themselves.

This way a tool like Lightroom can read the photos in and have all the metadata available.

Scripts

The scripts should be run in the following order

use_json.args

If the date-related metadata tags don't exist and the JSON file exists, merge the tags.

jpg_to_mp4.args

Rename .jpg files that are actually MP4 files to have the .mp4 extension

jpg_to_png.args

Rename .jpg files that are actually PNG files to have the .png extension

png_to_jpg.args

Rename .png files that are actually JPEG files to have the .jpg extension

was_jpg_now_mp4.args

was_jpg_now_png.args

was_png_now_jpg.args

For those files renamed above, if the date-related metadata tags don't exist and the JSON file exists, merge the tags.

Scripts that take a leap of faith

Out of the thousands of photos, only a handful actually have a JSON file. This is very disappointing and very unsatisfactory. In an attempt to fill in more metadata, use some scripts that take a leap of faith.

looks_like_a_date.args

Some filenames look to have the date and time encoded in the filename. Use that to fill in the metadata tags.

There is only one sanity check in this script to make sure legitimate looking dates are used. And that is to check that the year looks reasonable. For instance, "VID_32100102_123456.mp4" will be rejected but "IMG_20200901_123456.jpg" will not.

This is error-prone and I did have to manually adjust some files after running this script.

burst.args

This is a tweak to the script above in an attempt to extract the time from filenames of the form 00000IMG_00000_BURST20180901101751159_COVER.jpg.

From (#1)

date_from_folder.args

Even after the first leap of faith scripts, there are still loads of files that don't have any metadata. But Google Takeout arranges all files from the time they were created and so use that fact to add metadata.

There are some big gotchas here.

  • Only supports YYYY-MM-DD and no times
  • Timezone might be off and so dates might be off by a day
  • Doesn't understand when the photo was taken only when Google Photos was made aware of it

I felt this was better than nothing and so in my local media server, I have decided to keep the output of this scripts rather than have loads of pictures grouped together because most tools just use the file system time in lieu of any other times. And the file system time was when the files were extracted.

Common themes in the scripts

PhotoTakenTimeTimestamp is the field extracted from the JSON

-AllDates<PhotoTakenTimeTimestamp is used for JPEGs

-XMP-Exif:DateTimeOriginal<PhotoTakenTimeTimestamp and -PNG:CreationTime<PhotoTakenTimeTimestamp are used for PNGs. The former allows Lightroom to understand the tags and the latter allows Windows Photo Viewer to understand the tags.

-QuickTime:TrackCreateDate<PhotoTakenTimeTimestamp, -QuickTime:TrackModifyDate<PhotoTakenTimeTimestamp, -QuickTime:MediaCreateDate<PhotoTakenTimeTimestamp, -QuickTime:MediaModifyDate<PhotoTakenTimeTimestamp are used for mp4 files. I'm not sure which one is right so just went for a blanket approach.

ConvertUnixTime() is used to convert the UTC timestamp in the JSON to a local time.

Caveats

-overwrite_original is used because I still have all the zips from Takeout.

Timezones and UTC is still a mystery and I can't get it right. Sometimes the files/JSON are just bad.

This was all done on a Windows 10 laptop. I don't know if everything in the scripts are supported on all Windows/Mac/Linux.

Tweaks

Don't want the scripts to clobber the originals? Remove -overwrite_original

Are there photos or albums you thought you deleted but still remain? Try the album archive and especially the "Auto Backup" album. Not sure what this is, but there were a lot old / unwanted photos in there.

Improvements

The JSON files have album info. Maybe that can be merged too?

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Exiftool scripts for processing photos from Google Takeout

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