Tag Archives: photo tagging

What is a Tag


If you have been working with a photo organizing application in the past couple of years you may have heard the word “tag”. Put simply tags are a way for you to find your photos more quickly and easier than manually searching through thousands and thousands of individual photos.

Technically a tag is just descriptive words that are saved into the photo file itself. This means that whenever you add a tag to your photo that information will stay with that photo. You will be able to copy it to a CD or upload it to your favorite online photo sharing site and the tag information will still be there.

There are a number of tag types you can add to your photos. For example you can add a title tag, descriptive tags, an author, and a number of other types. What tags you are able to add will depend on the software you are using. Some applications will let you add more types of tags than others. For example one application may allow you to add a GPS tag while another may not. This also brings up the point of compatibility.

Some applications may use a non standard way of adding the tag information to your file. This can be a major problem if you decide to use another program that doesn’t support the way that the other program added the tag information. The best way to find out is to try adding some tags in one application and then try to see that information in another application. If the other application can see the tag information than most likely you are safe. You should also be able to find out by either searching around on the applications website or just do a search on the Internet. I have found that all the programs I’ve used in the past year or so have all at least implemented the common tag types in a standard way. If you are still not sure or don’t trust the photo organizer you are using, you can always get a tool dedicated to adding tags such as Microsoft Pro Photo Tools or iTag. Both these solutions will allow you to tag all of your family photos without worrying about not being able to read that information later.

Before we go any further let’s look at an example of what kinds of tags we would typically want to apply to our photos.

soccer player

As you can see from the image above there are a couple tags that have already been entered in for me. This includes the date the photo was taken, the camera that took the photo and a few other technical details. You can also see that there are a number of these tags that I can not change such as what settings I had the camera set to when taking the photo. The tags I am interested in adding are the descriptive tags and the caption. The descriptive tags should be something like soccer game and soccer tournament. The descriptive tag should be a quick summary of the photo. Something like State Cup Soccer Tournament would do just fine for this photo. All I do to add these tags is click just underneath the headings, where it says to add a caption or description. It then allows me to type in what information I want. Below is the same photo with the tags added.


Depending on the program you are using it will vary where and how you add tags to your photos, but most of them will have a dedicated box just for this purpose. They may not call it a tag but rather something like “Add a description”.

Now that we have learned a little about tagging and how to add them, let’s talk about the benefits of doing all this work. The number one reason for tagging your photos in my opinion is to be able to find the photos you want quickly and easily. Let’s say you took photos at Grandpas birthday a couple years back and now Grandma is putting together a scrapbook and she needs some photos from the event. If you tagged these photos with birthday and grandpa it should be a snap to find them. Again depending on how your application does search this may vary, but let’s take a look at how we can find the cow photo above.


In the picture above it shows my main gallery with a total number of photos at 5539. Now on the left side you can see I can sort these by folder, date taken, people, or descriptive tags. To find my photo of the cow I can just click the “Cow” tag under descriptive tags. This Windows Live Gallery also provides me with a search box at the top in which I could also type in the word cow to bring up all the photos that contained the tag cow. In addition to sorting with one tag, you can select multiple tags at one time to fine tune your results. This would be perfect for finding that photo of Grandpa as you could find all the photos that contained both Grandpa and Birthday.

As you can see adding tags to your photos can be extremely helpful and if you add your tags each time you copy your photos from your camera to your computer it really doesn’t take much time at all.


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The Sports Photography Professionals