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Suppose a photo has been taken and the date was incorrect on the device. Is there any way to correct the date on my computer after the fact? Is it possible to find out the real date the photo was taken? Or will it just show the date the device was set to? For example, my photo says 2020 but was actually taken in 2015.

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  • I think this is a good question. I've had it myself before. Yes, it's not strictly within the limits, but I think it has value nonetheless and is close enough to warrant reopening. Apr 12, 2017 at 17:48
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    The issue may originate with the camera, but the question is about the ability to fix the problem after the fact on a computer. I think this is on-topic on that basis.
    – fixer1234
    Apr 12, 2017 at 19:57
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    You may be able to date some photos based on their content (e.g., it depicts a birthday/anniversary or holiday, or shows you in a place where you were for only a day or three). If the camera's clock/battery was fried, that and bracketing the photos between the ones you can resolve may be the best you can do.  If the clock was set wrong, but kept time accurately, you can determine how far off it was, and use that as an offset for all the photos. Apr 16, 2017 at 5:40

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The metadata stored in a photo for the "captured date" is only stored once in the file. If it's wrong, then, no, there's not a way to retrieve the "correct" date. In fact, because the camera's date was set to whatever it was, from the camera's point of view, the date captured stored in the metadata is correct.

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  • So in other words if the device is dated a different date the only way to change it is by manually changing the Metadata
    – Satarin
    Apr 12, 2017 at 2:19
  • Unfortunately, yes. Apr 12, 2017 at 2:20
  • Sorry twisty one more question if the Metadata is manually changed will it still read as the original device that took the pic or will it be changed to what ever you used to edit the Data with
    – Satarin
    Apr 12, 2017 at 3:09
  • You can edit only specific parts of the metadata without changing others. This question may help you: superuser.com/q/12924/213131 Apr 12, 2017 at 3:11
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Is it possible to find out the real date the photo was taken? Or will it just show the date the device was set to?

No, at least not from the information in the image file. The image file only stores the time the camera wrote there - if the camera clock was wrong, the time in the file will be equally wrong. However, you may be able to find the real times if

  • a) the camera clock is working correctly (e.g. is not fast or slow), and
  • b) you did not change it manually later

In that case you can check the (incorrect) camera clock, and calculate its offset to the real time (e.g. it is 3 hours 2 minutes in the future), and add it to the time of each photo to get its real time. For example, a photo that says May 1, 15:23 is really from May 1, 12:21.

... which brings us to:

Is there any way to correct the date on my computer after the fact?

Yes, there is - you can edit the date information in the image file. All modern cameras store image metadata such as time of capture in a special section of the image file called Exif. There are tools to edit this Exif data.

For example, you can use the command line tool jhead. To subtract 3 hours 2 minutes from the timestamp of a photo, use:

jhead -ta-03:02:00 image.jpg

There are many other tools to manipulate Exif data.

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