Editing IPTC & Metadata

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Image metadata is the set of data that lives within an image file that describes the image's attributes -- everything from the photo's size to its resolution to its copyright information and beyond. Particularly for images on the web, metadata provides an essential role in describing, tracking, and identifying the image.

Metadata also factors significantly into SEO (Search Engine Optimization), as fields such as image captions, headlines, and keywords all help describe the contents of your image to search engines. Throughout PhotoShelter, you'll see a green SEO symbol placed next to metadata fields that are relevant to SEO.

PhotoShelter allows you to edit both the descriptive and administrative metadata for your images, both individually and in batch. 



IPTC (International Press Communications Council) is a consortium of the world's major news organizations. One of their main goals is providing standards to facilitate information interchange between organizations. As such, they have developed a very complete way to annotate an image with metadata. For example:

  • Description/Caption

  • Copyright

  • Author

  • Keywords

  • And much more

PhotoShelter fully supports the IPTC Core specification (see below), which means annotations you create in programs like Photoshop will automatically be read and extracted upon upload. More importantly, if you change the metadata in the file in PhotoShelter, we will re-embed that information into files when you allow others to download them.  

When a keyword search is accessed on your PhotoShelter website, these are the searchable IPTC fields:

  • Filename
  • Description/Caption
  • Title 
  • Keywords
  • City 
  • State
  • Country
  • Country ISO


IPTC worked with Adobe to come up with a more robust specification that added more fields and also standardized the way information was written to a file using XML. Beginning with Photoshop CS2, the full IPTC Core is accessible through the File Info panels (File → File Info). You can also use the IPTC Core with Photoshop CS by downloading the panels from the IPTC website.

Other programs like Photo Mechanic and Adobe Lightroom also support the IPTC Core standard. Older programs will support a 1990s version of the specification, commonly referred to as the IIMv4 (Information Interchange Module version 4) specification.

The full specification that describes each field can be found on the IPTC website.


IPTC Field Specifications

The following information is condensed from the IPTC4XMP Core 1.0 document:

A textual description, including captions, of the news object's content, particularly used where the object is not text.
A publishable entry providing a synopsis of the contents of the news object. Headline is not the same as Title.
A shorthand reference for the news object. While a technical identifier goes to an identifier element, Title holds a short, verbal, and human-readable name. Title is not the same as Headline.
Keywords to express the subject of the content. Keywords may be free text and don't have to be taken from a controlled vocabulary. Values from the controlled vocabulary IPTC Subject Codes must go to the Subject Code element.
Name of the city the content is focusing on.
Name of the subregion of a country — either called province or state or anything else — the content is focussing on — either the subregion shown in visual media or referenced by text or audio media. This element is at the second level of a top-down geographical hierarchy.
Full name of the country the content is focusing on.
Country ISO
Identifies the provider of the news object, who is not necessarily the owner/creator.
Identifies the original owner of the copyright for the intellectual content of the news object. This could be an agency, a member of an agency, or an individual. Source could be different from Creator and from the entities in the Copyright Notice.
Caption/Description Writer
Identifier or the name of the person involved in writing, editing, or correcting the description of the news object.
Any of a number of instructions from the provider or creator to the receiver of the news object which might include any of the following: embargoes (NewsMagazines OUT) and other restrictions not covered by the Rights Usage Terms field; information regarding the original means of capture (scanning notes, colourspace info) or other specific text information that the user may need for accurate reproduction; additional permissions or credits required when publishing.
Copyright Notice
Contains any necessary copyright notice for claiming the intellectual property for this news object and should identify the current owner of the copyright for the news object.
Edit Status
Job Identifier
Number or identifier for the purpose of improved workflow handling. This ID should be added by the creator or provider for transmission and routing purposes only and should have no significance for archiving.
Author Title
Contact Address
The contact information address. Comprises an optional company name and all required information to locate the building or postbox to which mail should be sent.
Country Code
Code of the country the content is focusing on. The three-letter code should be taken from ISO 3166.
Contact Country
The contact information country
Contact Postal Code
The contact information denoting the local postal code.
Contact State/Province
The contact information part denoting regional information like state or province.
Contact Email(s)
The contact information email address part. Multiple email addresses can be given, separated by a comma.
Contact Web URL(s)
The contact information web address part. Multiple addresses can be given, separated by a comma.
Contact Phone(s)
The contact information phone number part. Multiple numbers can be given, separated by a comma.
Describes the nature, intellectual, or journalistic characteristic of a news object, not specifically its content.
Name of a location the content is focusing on — either the location shown in visual media or referenced by text or audio media. This location name could either be the name of a sublocation to a city or the name of a well known location or (natural) monument outside a city. In the sense of a sublocation to a city, this element is at the fourth level of a top-down geographical hierarchy.
Rights Usage Terms
Free text instructions on how this news object can be legally used.
Describes the scene of a photo content. Specifies one or more terms from the IPTC Scene-NewsCodes. Each Scene is represented as a string of six digits in an unordered list.
Subject Code
Specifies one or more Subjects from the IPTC Scene-NewsCodes taxonomy to categorize the content. Each Subject is represented as a string of eight digits in an unordered list.
Web Statement



EXIF (Exchangeable Image File) data is the set of information assigned to your image by your camera. This information, which includes date, location, and time info, your camera settings, shutter speed, focal length, etc., may be viewed in the Right Pane of your Image Browser any time an image is selected.

EXIF data may not be edited through PhotoShelter.


Additional Info

It's important to note when you enable downloads of low-resolution comps, high-res downloads, the original file, or another specified size JPG, the file will be downloaded with all updated metadata embedded. But be forewarned that the file size can grow dramatically depending on how much metadata you have. It's not uncommon for the metadata to double, triple, or quadruple the file size of a low-resolution files.

  • Your original file that was uploaded to PhotoShelter is never altered in any way. You will always be able to retrieve the exact file you uploaded.
  • We do not currently re-embed metadata in PSD files and some raw files.

PhotoShelter allows you to edit both the descriptive and administrative IPTC metadata for your images, either in a batch or individual images. (EXIF data may be viewed but not edited.)


Editing Metadata for Multiple Images

1. From the Left Pane, select the gallery that contains the images whose metadata you'd like to edit.


2. In the Center Pane, select the images you want to edit. To select multiple files, hold down the command/Apple key on a Mac or the control key on a PC while making your selection. (You may also use your mouse to drag-select a range of images.) Use the Select All link at the top of the Center Pane to select all images in the gallery. 

3. Choose Edit IPTC from the Actions menu at the top of the Center Pane.

Note: This will be deselected if you've selected only one image. Please skip to the next section for instructions on editing IPTC for a single image.


4. The Edit IPTC information pop-up box will appear. Please note the two checkbox options in the footer of this window:  Also make these images publicly searchable and Append to existing data (doesn't overwrite current metadata). Be sure to check these boxes if applicable


5. Within the text fields, type the information you would like to update. The blue words above the text boxes, Update / Don't Update, serve as a status for the text box (any field will be set to Don't Update by default). Be sure to note the Update All / Update None links above the field set, which you may use as a shortcut. 

6. Click Submit when you're ready to commit your changes.



Editing Metadata for a Single Image

1. From the Center Pane, select the image whose metadata you'd like to update. 

2. In the Right Pane, click the edit button located next to IPTC Metadata. The section will open,  expanding the pane downward to allow edits. Be sure to click Save when done.


Still have questions? Contact us.


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