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I saw this the other day

img properties

This behavior is not uniform.The same does not happen if I use MS Paint or any other editor though.


Are there methods to discover which editor was used to create/edit an image?
I would like to know stuff like: Using X editor always leaves this at the end of the file or Using Y adds these tags to the image.

I already know:

Such traces may not be trustworthy, meaning it may be trivial to create/mask such traces

share|improve this question
As you already know Such traces may not be trustworthy, meaning it may be trivial to create/mask such traces, then your question is hardly a question. There are hundreds of editors, each one might leave its own comments (and provide options to override them). So what do you really want to know - a list of editors with their signatures? – JP19 Jan 19 '11 at 15:40
@JP19 Precisely. But not necessarily the EXIF one's. I don't think that will be a long list and somebody might already have one. – abel Jan 19 '11 at 15:46
up vote 3 down vote accepted

The attributes you see stored there are a part of the EXIF data that is stored within a JPEG file, and is a feature of the program you used to write the file. It is not typical for programs like MS Paint or others to bother writing that kind of data at all, let alone telling you it was them who wrote the file.

Typically the EXIF data is used by digital cameras to list all the camera settings used to take a picture, but as you can see, it has other uses too.

Without specifically going out and testing every image editor under the sun I would not expect to be able to find out which editors leave their marks on files and how exactly they make their marks at all. What you found is only one of a very large number of ways a file could be identified and it is by no means a standard, as I would expect the standard to be that a program does not bother to fill in any data of that sort at all (in the way that MS Paint does).

There may be subtleties in the way image encoders are set up in each program that could give some kind of "digital fingerprint" of the program, but the time and effort to even begin to find that kind of thing would be prohibitive for anyone outside of dedicated facilities.

Windows itself is no use here either, as the only details it stores of that type would be the last modified date and the user who currently owns the file. Storing the program that created the file would not be impossible for the operating system to do, but it would be considered a waste of storage space and pointless as it would only be able to trace it on the system that the file was created on and if it was copied to another computer the program that created it would be "Explorer" as that would be the program that copied (and thus created) the file.

share|improve this answer
Long answer. Thank you. I understand that it will be a tiresome and most probably fruitless endeavor for one person to try and find all the fingerprints, that is if they exist in the first place. This is why I asked this here, if people are looking for something similar, they might know of some other fingerprints and thus can add to the answer. – abel Jan 19 '11 at 15:44
@abel Fair enough. I was mainly answering to give some constructive ideas on the matter and I'm interested to see if any other programs use any other methods to "tag" their images, besides using the EXIF tags, but I suspect such tags are both format and program dependent. I'll keep an eye out for different methods. – Mokubai Jan 19 '11 at 15:58

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