I have several thousand pictures that I described and tagged in Microsoft Photo Gallery in recent years. Because they no longer develop it, and because there seem to be better alternatives to it, I would like to move the pictures somewhere else, but preserve the effects of my hard work.

Seems that XMP metadata is not strictly standardized, and for instance Microsoft, Google and Apple have different approach to storing tagged faces there (I mean names and areas assigned to them). According to what I noticed, Google Picasa is able to read people tags correctly from pictures tagged by Photo Gallery, but not the other way round. Apple Photos, on the other hand, does recognize neither those from Photo Gallery nor those from Picasa.

I don't know much about the XMP format, but when exported by Exiv2, it is an XML document. Apparently, it seems easy to export XMP metadata from a picture file, so I think it would be as easy to create an XML document with data from the source one in an appropriate format, and then write it back to the same picture. The thing is, however, that I didn't manage to find any software that can do that automatically.

I would like to migrate pictures I tagged and described in Microsoft Photo Gallery to Apple Photos. Do you know any tools that could help me do that without losing any portion of the data I wrote into those images (location, description, faces, descriptive tags)?


I tried to investigate the topic further and it seems that Apple Photos at its current version (2.0 (3130.0.240)) does not even import its own people tags. Therefore the conversion of XMP metadata I wanted to do seems pointless now.

When I export a picture from Photos and then extract its metadata using Exiv2, all face tags (and other data) is there, so Photos does export everything what's needed. But when I import the previously exported picture back, people stored in the file are ignored and Photos starts face detection on that picture anew. I'm disappointed, I didn't expect it.

Just for the curious ones – I planned to use the following command to extract all metadata from a picture file to an .xmp file:

exiv2 -eaX MyPhoto.jpg

The metadata that appears in a MyPhoto.xmp file can be modified and written back to the original file this way:

exiv2 -iaX MyPhoto.jpg

And my idea was to extract data from files tagged in Microsoft Photo Gallery, and write an application that would be able to convert the Microsoft-specific xmp files to Apple-specific format. And finally write the xmp files in their new format back to source. But as long as Photos ignores people tags, it is pointless.

My question about available tools that would do all that automatically seems stupid now, sorry. Or, if I'm wrong, please let me know. Thanks!

  • 1
    +1 for the research... though it did make me think of this - xkcd.com/927
    – Tetsujin
    Dec 30 '16 at 18:29

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