Save Time Embedding Keywords to Videos in Free Exiftool

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If you are copying and pasting titles, description and keywords manually for each stock video, this tutorial is for you. Here, we will show how to automate this task by embedding metadata into stock video files using the free Exiftool program and save you a lot of time. Everything is done quickly and efficiently.

No programming experience is required and anyone with basic computer skills can replicate what we demonstrate in this tutorial. In our previous tutorial, we went over how to use Exiftool to embed titles, descriptions and keywords into stock image files.

Ways to Provide Metadata to Stock Video Websites

Generally, there are three approaches to supply keywords, title and descriptions for photo and video files for stock content websites.

1. Manual Copy and Paste

First is to manually copy and paste metadata for each file and stock photo platform. This approach is very inefficient and should be avoided as much as possible.

2. Embed Metadata in Stock Media Files

The second approach is to embed data directly into media files before uploading them. When you do so, stock photo platforms will recognize embedded keywords, title and description and display them in their submission system, eliminating the need for manually copying and pasting this data.

There are two ways to embed your metadata. One is through Adobe Bridge or Adobe Lightroom. We made a tutorial on how to do so in Adobe Bridge and why Adobe Lightroom is unsuitable for this task. Using Adobe Bridge to embed metadata is better than the first approach, but still inefficient, as it involves a lot of clicking, copying and pasting.

The other option is to embed metadata using the free Exiftool program, which is the topic of this tutorial. It is highly efficient and does a lot of work automatically for you. We also wrote a separate tutorial on how to embed metadata into stock photo files with Exiftool.

3. Upload CSV Metadata File

There is also a third option and that is to upload a comma-separated values (CSV) metadata spreadsheet directly to stock photo websites. Each stock photo platform will recognize this spreadsheet and will display keywords and description for each uploaded file in their submission system. This method is also highly efficient. We made a tutorial on using Upload CSV metadata for stock photos on our blog.

How to Embed Metadata with Exiftool

Exiftool is a popular free program that lets you read and write metadata in images, videos and many other media format files.

Step 1: Install Exiftool

Start with the installation webpage for Exiftool maintained by Phil Harvey. Here, there are instructions on how to download and install the program.

Apple MacOS

Download the dmg installation file and double-click on it. You may see a message that the program cannot be opened. The solution is to go to the Security and Privacy settings in your System preferences and allow the app installation to proceed.

Embedding metadata keywords and titles to stock photo images for stock photography using free exiftool in Apple's MacOS

After the installation, you can check that the program indeed works. Go to Finder’s applications and then the utilities folder and start the terminal, which lets you execute text format commands. Type “exiftool” into the command line and you should see the help documentation for the program. Hit the “q” button to exit out of the Exiftool program.

Windows PC

Download the Exiftool standalone executable file in a zip archive. Extract and rename the executable from “exiftool(-k).exe” to “exiftool.exe”. This step is necessary because having “(-k)” option will pause the program at the end of its execution and we do not want any interruptions.

Next, take the “exiftool.exe” file and copy it into “C:\WINDOWS” folder. This will put the file into so-called Windows’ PATH, meaning that you can just type “exiftool” into your command prompt and Windows will recognize it as the call to the the Exiftool executable program.

Next is to test that Exiftool works. Press the Windows “Start” button and type “command prompt” and start the app. Windows’ command prompt app is the analogue of MacOS’s terminal. Type “exiftool” in your command prompt and then press Enter. You should see the help documentation for the program displayed. Press “q” to exit out of the documentation.

Step 2: Prepare Metadata in CSV File

Next, have all of your stock videos in one directory. When you try this algorithm for the first time, I recommend using a backup copy of your files just to see if things work right.

While you can embed metadata into each video file separately, this is not what we are after here. Luckily, Exiftool allows its users to take metadata from a comma separated values or CSV spreadsheet file and embed titles, descriptions, keywords and other data into multiple video files automatically and quickly.

This is a CSV spreadsheet template I created specifically to write metadata into video files using the Exiftool for various stock photography websites. The CSV format can be easily edited using any spreadsheet software, such as Excel or OpenOffice.

CSV spreadsheet template for embedding metadata keywords and titles to stock video footage files for stock photography using free exiftool

It is important to maintain the exact header with column names as shown above. I shared this template with a link in the description for MacOS and Windows users separately. The first column is the SourceFile, which must contain the exact path and name of your video file. If you are a Windows user, your path will use backslash (“\”) notation, while for a MacOS user it will use slash (“/”) notation instead.

MacOS File Path

To get the full path along with the file name of each video file for the SourceFile column in the CSV file, you can use a certain trick in Apple’s MacOS. Open up your TextEdit program from Finder’s application folder. Go to “Format” menu and choose “Make Plain Text” option.

Next, go to your folder with video files, select the ones you want to keyword and title, and drag them into TextEdit program. Doing so will populate full paths and file names. You can copy and paste these paths into your SourceFile column. Each path will likely look like this: “/folder1/folder2/”.

Windows PC File Path

To get paths with file names in Windows, you need to open Windows Explorer and select the desired files. Next, go to “Home” tab and press on the “Copy Path” button as shown below.

Copy path for files in Windows Explorer program

You can paste these paths along with file names into the CSV file and the Windows path will look like “C:\folder1\folder2\”.

QuickTime and XMP Tags

After “SourceFile”, the next six columns will write title, description and keywords using QuickTime and XMP formats. Note that keywords must be separated by comma and each keyword can be either one word or multiple words.

XMP format stands for Extensible Metadata Platform developed by Adobe. Naturally, you would ask why in the world do I have to write the title, description and keywords the second time in XMP format? Didn’t we just do it with the QuickTime format? And the answer is yes, you do need to write this metadata the second time separately in XMP format.

For one reason or another, different stock photography agencies recognize title, description and keywords written in different formats. I tried all possible combinations for the four major stock photo agencies and came to the conclusion that QuickTime and XMP formats will cover most bases.

Here is a table that shows which metadata information Shutterstock, Adobe Stock, Pond5 and Getty Images accept.

Embedding metadata keywords and titles to stock video files for stock photography using free Exiftool

As you can see, Shutterstock does not recognize any of it. No matter what I tried, including other formats I did not show here, it just would not work. I will address this issue and how to deal with Shutterstock at the end of this tutorial. All stock photo agencies in this table would recognize QuickTime format for keywords. Getty Images was very particular about having titles and descriptions written in the XMP format for some reason.

Coming back to the CSV template file, the last four columns denote copyright information.

CSV spreadsheet template for embedding metadata keywords and titles to stock video footage files for stock photography using free exiftool

You can change “artist” and “copyrightnotice” columns to indicate your name and a different copyright notice, if you’d like. Otherwise, you can keep the other two columns as is if you want your videos copyrighted. In principle, you can modify many other types of data fields in your video files. You can refer to the Exiftool webpage for further instructions.

Step 3: Execute Exiftool Command

To write metadata into your stock video files, you need to execute the following command in the terminal for MacOS or in the command prompt for Windows:

exiftool -overwrite_original -sep ", " -csv="/folder1/folder2/metadata.csv" "/folder1/folder2/"
exiftool -overwrite_original -sep ", " -csv="C:/folder1/folder2/metadata.csv"  "C:/folder1/folder2/"

Change paths in your command as needed. The only difference between MacOS and Windows is how paths are indicated. For Windows, use backslashes (“\”) in paths in your CSV file and slashes (“/”) for paths in the command prompt. For MacOS, paths in CSV file and Exiftool command for the terminal use identical symbol notation (“/”).

Let me explain each part of the command.

  • exiftool: is the call to the program itself.
  • -overwrite_original: tells Exiftool not to preserve the original file without metadata. If you skip this option, you will have two sets of files, which are modified files and original files with “_original” appended to the file names.
  • -sep “, ”: separates each keyword with a comma. This is the reason I mentioned that your keyword list in the CSV file must be separated by a comma. If it is separated by something else (e.g. semicolon), you need to change this option. If this option is not present, the entire field of keywords will be embedded as one long string.
  • -csv=”/folder1/folder2/metadata.csv” or -csv=”C:/folder1/folder2/metadata.csv”: points to CSV file that contains your files paths and metadata. Change this path accordingly.
  • “/folder1/folder2/”: a directory where your video files are located. Also, change it accordingly.

To write this metadata into your stock videos, execute the following command in the terminal on MacOS or the command prompt app on Windows. Refer to the tutorial videos I made on writing metadata to stock photo images I linked in the description for more details what each part of this command mean and how to execute it. It is important to preserve the notation here, especially for paths.

What to Do About Shutterstock?

For one reason or another, Shutterstock does not recognize any embedded metadata. I tried various formats in Exiftool, but Shutterstock’s submission system rejected all of them, leaving the description and keywords fields empty.

So what do you do about Shutterstock? Besides copying and pasting everything manually, you can use approach #3 and that is to upload a CSV metadata file I briefly talked about. You can read a complete tutorial on uploading CSV metadata files on our blog.

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