The use and context of the word(s) TAG and TAGS

Added by George Grasmann about 5 years ago

Please forgive me if this has been posed and answered already. I am hopeful that I have come to the right place to resolve an issue with jpeg metadata that is shown as "TAGS" (among others) in Windows (v7 sp1) explorer. Every now and then (yet far too frequently) I come across an image file I am trying to catalog. I have a repository of literally tens of thousands. When I attempt to "tag" or change any of the other meta(?) data shown at the bottom of explorer, I get "Error 0x80070057: The parameter is incorrect." No one anywhere else is willing to help me fix and/or work through this (been trying for over a year!), and the only option is to load the photo image into a graphics editor and rewrite it anew, which of course creates a new file and effectively erases a lot of other valid metadata. It is not practical to do this for all the hundreds or thousands of images that generate this error.

I came here hoping to use a utility like "exiv2" to circumvent using windows entirely. But now I am stuck with the ambiguity of the tag name "tag" Or the key called "TAG" or the TAGS known as tag... Am I the only one that's comfused? I've dumped (I think?) all the possible "keys" and "values" and can't even FIND the word "TAG" in any of them. And besides the built-in help (which by its generous use of the term or word "tag" only confuses me.), I haven't been able to find a manual to help me do what I want and need to do.

Which simply is this... Without encountering that error (see the attached file), I was hoping to invoke exiv2 to add or modify the "TAGS" property in windows, and perhaps the other ones, "COMMENT", "SUBJECT", "AUTHOR", and various "DATES" ... I can't seem to list them, can't see them anywhere but in Windows Explorer, and I don't even know if they mean the same thing or if I can even DO this with exiv2...

Could you please help, maybe show me an example so I can change the (windows) tags ... tag...?

Headache.jpg (71.6 KB) Headache.jpg Windows explorer screenshot and subsequent error message.

Replies (4)

RE: The use and context of the word(s) TAG and TAGS - Added by Robin Mills about 5 years ago

Relax, George. You've come to the right place. I will explain this. However, it's 23:39 in England and I'm about to go to bed.

I only use Windows for Exiv2 development and don't use it as my day-to-day system for managing my 50,000 photographs. I'll have to investigate how Windows represents data such as AUTHOR in the file. I'll write some notes about this for you tomorrow.

I don't know what the message: "Error 0x80070057: The parameter is incorrect." means. Sounds like a bug in Windows Explorer and I may be unable to reproduce this on Windows 10.

We'll have some fun on Monday getting to the bottom of some or all of these mysteries.

RE: The use and context of the word(s) TAG and TAGS - Added by Alan Pater about 5 years ago

Tags are also sometimes refered to as keywords. As for the metadata fields, the MWG Guidelines give a decent breakdown of their usage.

RE: The use and context of the word(s) TAG and TAGS - Added by Robin Mills about 5 years ago

As Alan has said, the term TAG is used in the world of digital photographs to mean a keyword associated with an image file. Many applications can attribute one or more "tags" such as "family", "vacation", "Robin", "Christmas" or "Birthday" to an image. Photo Organisers such as Picasa and Lightroom make it easy to find all images in the library which contain the tags "Robin" and "vacation".

There is another and much broader meaning of the word "Tag". Inside an image file there an image and lots of information about the image. This includes information such as the time, camera model, aperture and many other items. Collectively, that data is called "metadata" which means "data about data". There are standards for metadata and confusingly there are three major standards: Exif, IPTC and XMP. Exiv2 supports them all. For historical reasons, individual items of metadata are also often called "Tags".

Now to focus on your Windows issue. Here are a couple of images from Windows/10 showing Properties of the file c:\temp\George.jpg. At the top, the user can define properties such as "Subject" and "Title". When you scroll down the properties, you'll encounter lots of read-only properties such as the camera model. All of this information is stored in the "metadata" of the image file.

Now, to focus on your Windows Explorer/Error message. I regret to speculate that Explorer has a serious bug. When you update items such as "Subject", it is crashing and corrupting your file. The message that you have provided usually comes from mis-use of a COM interface in Windows. There are a several ways to deal with this:

1 Stop using Explorer for this purpose. If it's corrupting your file, there is nothing Exiv2 can do to fix your file. You will have to restore your file from back up.
2 Adopt Windows 10. I had no difficulty transferring all my Windows activity from Windows 7 to Windows 10 and the upgrade was free. The free upgrade offer closes soon.
3 Use a different application, such a digiKam or Picasa to organise your photo collection.

You may be using Windows Explorer to browse your photo library. You can continue to do that while using another Photo Organiser. I'm only recommending that you stop using Explorer to update "Subject", "Title" and the like. If it's damaging your files, STOP using it.

The storage of metadata in image files is defined by the three standards to which I referred (Exif, IPTC and XMP). So when you add a "Tag" with digiKam or Picasa it will usually be visible in the file Properties in Windows.

RE: The use and context of the word(s) TAG and TAGS - Added by George Grasmann about 5 years ago

Thanks for all the responses... Let me first say that since I last wrote, my service provider has throttled me for the first time in over 3 years. Why, I have no idea, so getting here is a crazy exercise which usually hasn't been working.

Next, Explorer is not corrupting the file ... I can edit it with picasa, or Corelpaint, and the "new" file is perfect and will even allow me editing the metadata formerly forbidden ... but the caveat is that it also does nothing to preserve the valuable data that is already stored. This is unfeasible.

Windows 10 is not an option. Especially since my internet speed right now is about 174 kbps...

Microsoft has been of NO USE WHATSOEVER in resolving this error; neither has the various forums sponsored by usoft.

I'll keep an eye on here for future posts, especially as to how I might use EXiv2 as a solution.

I think I considered using PICASA to solve this problem, but cannot offhand remember why I didn't use it.

Thanks again for the help!