How to search jpg metadata, specifically comments?

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  1. Posts : 52
    Windows 7 Home Premium 64 bit
       #1

    How to search jpg metadata, specifically comments?


    I have thousands of .jpg images which also have metadata in the .jpg header. One of these metadata fields is "comments", e.g. "My dog spot when he was 2 yrs old".

    Is there any way Windows Search can search jpg metadata, specifically the comments field? I've tried it but can't make it work. Is there some trick using Advanced Query Syntax?
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  2. Arc
    Posts : 35,373
    Microsoft Windows 10 Pro Insider Preview 64-bit
       #2

    Open the explorer window where the jpeg image is situated. slelct the image so that it displays in the details pane. You can see the comments field there. Just as the attached image :)
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails How to search jpg metadata, specifically comments?-capture.jpg  
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  3. Posts : 52
    Windows 7 Home Premium 64 bit
    Thread Starter
       #3

    Thanks, the .jpg comments are already present and viewable in Explorer if Organize | Layout | Details is enabled.

    My question is how to *search* through many photos for already-existing comments.

    The various file metadata attributes (inc'l comments) can be seen in Details pane. Those attributes (inc'l comments) can also appear in a column if you right-click on the column and select that attribute.

    Those same attributes can be searched. E.g, using Advanced Query Syntax: Type:JPEG, or SIZE:424kb.

    However you cannot apparently search for .jpg comments. This is illogical as it's unstructured text just like any other text document which Windows Search handles.

    Is there some special technique or query syntax needed to search the comments field of .jpg files?
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  4. Posts : 5,642
    Windows 10 Pro (x64)
       #4

    did you try "comments:something" ?
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  5. Posts : 52
    Windows 7 Home Premium 64 bit
    Thread Starter
       #5

    Yes I tried all combinations using the "Comments" keyword: delimited and non-delimited arguments, leading and trailing wildcards, search terms at beginning of comment field, etc. Nothing works.

    Also dropped and rebuilt indexes, verified .jpg file suffix selected in index advance properties, verified "contents and data" selected for that suffix, etc.
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  6. Arc
    Posts : 35,373
    Microsoft Windows 10 Pro Insider Preview 64-bit
       #6

    Once I used a trial of Adobe Photoshop Album Starter Edition. It can arrange picture library, sort them on the basis of metadata, and arrange them accordingly. You may have a try, but this is not free. Alternatively, Acdsee or Picassa may do the job.
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  7. Posts : 52
    Windows 7 Home Premium 64 bit
    Thread Starter
       #7

    I tried Irfanview 4.25, FastStone 4.2, and Scott's JPEG Commenter ver 1.2. None work for .jpg comments entered by the Windows 7 Explorer.

    IOW JPEG comments entered by Win7 Explorer aren't visible to these utilities, and comments entered by them aren't visible to Explorer.

    Picasa 3.6.0 nor Photoshop Elements 7 show the comments, either.

    I don't have earlier Windows versions to test, but maybe it has existed on Vista or even XP. There is apparently some incompatibility. Windows is using unicode or a special offset in the JPEG header or something which is incompatible with all the 3rd-party utilities I've tested so far.

    This is fairly serious: all JPEG comment data entered in Windows is inaccessible to all or most JPEG/EXIF utilities, and vice-versa. Also Windows apparently cannot search JPEG comments. This means you should essentially never use Windows to enter JPEG comments.

    My goal is to use the existing JPEG header for comments, not use some 3rd party tool which stores data in a "sidecar" file. Using a utility is OK if there was a common, reliable way whereby both Windows and the utility could read/write JPEG comment data in a mutually-compatible fashion.

    I can't believe I'm the first person to encounter this. There must be some obvious, simple solution.
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  8. Posts : 5,642
    Windows 10 Pro (x64)
       #8

    Looking over EXIF/IPTC there is nothing that says "Comments" I'm going to assume the "Comments" shown by explorer is a file property.
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  9. Posts : 52
    Windows 7 Home Premium 64 bit
    Thread Starter
       #9

    "Comments" are a JPEG header item. There's a 0xFFFE comment marker in the header, followed by a 2-byte length field. Comments are unformatted free text.

    The confusion comes from Windows *also* calling textual photo descriptions "comments", which are stored in the JPEG header but different from JPEG comments.

    I've found there are significant problems with using Win7 Explorer (also likely Vista or XP) to enter JPEG comments.

    (1) The JPEG comments read/written by Explorer in Windows XP, Vista or 7 are different from the normal JPEG comments typically accessed by other utilities. Comments written by Windows are typically not readable by other utilities, and vice-versa.

    The confusion stems from both being called "comments", and Windows displaying those alongside other JPEG header fields -- which implies they are JPEG comments. In fact they are Windows comments, stored in the JPEG header but distinct from JPEG comments.

    (2) Windows "JPEG" comments are not searchable by Win7 search. Since they aren't typically accessible by 3rd-party utilities, this effectively means you can't search on photo comments entered by Windows Explorer. It's really a deplorable situation.

    There is one command-line utility ExifTool that can read & update both jpeg and "XP" comments entered by Windows Explorer: ExifTool by Phil Harvey

    Provided you know all this, the solution is simple: just don't use Windows Explorer to add JPEG comments, and don't use Windows Search -- use a 3rd party utility to enter/search the JPEG comments. You also must always remember those comments won't show up in Explorer -- the comments field will just be blank from the Windows standpoint.
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  10. Posts : 16
    62 bit Windows 7
       #10

    It's now October 2018 and it appears Microsoft and other OSs haven't addressed this problem yet, even. It should not be the responsibility of third party software engineers to provide comprehensive file and folder metadata field management and search features via add-on programs. These should be the sole responsibility of the operating system, and if OS engineers would do that, it would automatically force the industry to adopt a universal standard for metadata tagging of all content. Currently, both Windows and Mac OS are woefully deficient, still stuck in turn-of-the-century file/folder metaphors that are totally incapable of delivering the kinds of advanced content management/search features that people worldwide need. Shame!!!
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