Change the Dates in Your Photos

Here in the digital age, we are pretty spoiled. Unlike my parents and their shelf of photo albums filled with sticky pages and clear covers, I have virtually instant access to every photo I've taken in the past 15 years. That makes it all the more important for the photo metadata to be accurate, though. If a picture's date is incorrect, good luck finding it when you browse your digital collection. (See "Organize Your Photos" for some tips on how to do that.)

In the past, I've told you how to remove the date stamp from the corner of your photo ("Get Rid of That Ugly Date Stamp"). This week, let's see how to fix the date if your camera was not set properly when you shot a batch of photos.

Do It With Windows

If you notice that one of your photos has an incorrect date, you can modify it right within Windows. Open the folder that contains the photo, right-click the file, and choose Properties. You should see the date on the General tab, but there's nothing we can do there. Click the Details tab. Next, find the Origin section (it should be near the top) and you should see the "Date taken" field. Just click in the date and change it to anything you like.

Note that you can't change the time that the photo was taken, though. That's usually not a big deal; you probably don’t care if the photo claims it was taken at 4:30PM or 7:30PM.

Sometimes you do care about the time, though. Suppose you were on vacation in a different time zone. Now all your photos will be offset by time difference between home (where you set the camera's clock) and where you shot the photos. Is there a way to fix that? There sure is! But you might need some extra software for that. Thankfully, it's free.

Change the Date in Windows Photo Gallery

All you need is Windows Photo Gallery. It comes with Windows Vista, or you can download a free version, called Windows Live Photo Gallery, for Windows XP. (In fact, Windows Live Photo Gallery is an improvement over the version in Vista, so Vista users might want to switch as well.)

Windows Live Photo Gallery lets you do two things that you can't do with Windows on its own: change the time associated with the "Date taken" field, and also batch edit the "Date taken" field for several photos at once.

To do either of those things, open Photo Gallery and select one or more photos. Then right-click and choose Change Time Taken. You'll see the Change Time Taken dialog box, which you can use to modify the date or adjust for a different time zone.

Hot Pic of the Week

Get published, get famous! Each week, we select our favorite reader-submitted photo based on creativity, originality, and technique.

Here's how to enter: Send us your photograph in JPEG format, at a resolution no higher than 640 by 480 pixels. Entries at higher resolutions will be immediately disqualified. If necessary, use an image editing program to reduce the file size of your image before e-mailing it to us. Include the title of your photo along with a short description and how you photographed it. Don't forget to send your name, e-mail address, and postal address. Before entering, please read the full description of the contest rules and regulations.

This Week's Hot Pic: "White Pockets," by Jim Langford, San Clememte, California

Jim took this photo with a Canon 40D near Page, Arizona.

This Week's Runner-Up: "Brooklyn Bridge at Night" by John Rakis, Brooklyn

John writes: "I took this photograph from the pedestrian walkway of the Brooklyn Bridge, while facing the skyline of lower Manhattan. I perched the camera on a metal railing and took a 5-second exposure that captured the light of oncoming traffic."

See all the Hot Pic of the Week photos online.

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