Automated Photo Workflow using Hazel Rules and ExifTool

I like to keep a curated library of my images and videos using descriptive names, tags and keywords so that I can use a number of different approaches to store and retrieve my assets.

I have not yet found the ultimate Digital Asset Management software to achieve my aims so until that happens (fingers crossed for Luminar) I use a hierarchal file system in MacOS with extensive use of Hazel Rules and ExifTool to automate the process as much as possible.

The curated images are then backed up to Google Photos, my Synology NAS and some are stored in Albums in Apple’s Photos app. My storage location is a sub folder under Documents which means the files are automatically backed up to iCloud and easily accessible remotely via the iOS Files app and Spotlight searches.

Rename, Tag, Keyword then File

After importing my new images I will sort them into folders which have been named using the following convention

Category,Description (name of Event or Names of People in the photo etc).

Each component of the name needs to be separated by a comma, with a maximum of 7 components being used.

Hazel will then run through a process where the file will be renamed to the earliest determined Date+Category+Description, with Tags and Keywords being added based on the Category and Description.

The File will then be moved to it’s storage location based on the Category and Description.The filing process only goes 3 levels deep so it picks up the Category and the first Description with subsequent Descriptions, if present, being used for the 3rd folder level name.

For example Photos taken at Joe’s 50th birthday party are placed in a folder called Events,Birthday,Joe,50th and they will be renamed to yyyymmdd_hhmmss_Events Birthday Joe 50th.extension and filed to the location Events->Birthday->Joe 50th. The images will have the Events, Birthday, Joe, 50th Tags & Keywords applied.

Missing Geotag

I want all of my photos to have a Geotag of the location where it was taken. Normally this is set by my principal camera (iPhone X) but if the image has been edited the metadata is often stripped by the software or if it is a scanned image the metadata data will be blank.

In my Photo Workflow once the the image has been renamed and the Tags and Keywords set if the GeoTag metadata is detected to be missing rather than being filed to its final location the image will be moved to the Geotag folder. For photos in this folder I use the my Geotagging software of choice, Image Exif Editor, to set the location. Hazel will detect that the location is now present and will then move the file back into the workflow process.

Date Fix

Often I will obtain images that have an incorrect data associated with the creation of the image, an example being when you scan an old photo.

To correct this I have a Hazel rule that will reset the date based on the name of the monitored folder. The Folder name needs to be in the format YYYYMMDD_HHMMSS.

If uncertain of the actual date of the photo I use a default date of 30 June in the year I allocate.

On the date being reset the file is moved back into the Workflow.

Stock Photos

Stock images, videos and sounds I collect are placed into a folder named by their category, eg LUTs, Sounds, Backgrounds etc

As most Stock images generally have a descriptive filename I leave the name alone but Hazel does append the dimensions to images & videos and the duration to sounds, adds the Tags “Stock” and “Category” then moves the file to the final Directory, storing the files in sub folders based on the the category name.

If you would like to try this workflow out I have attached the Hazel Rules below, remember to also install ExifTools.

Add Keywords

Set Tags and File

Geotag

Fix Dates

Process Stock media