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photostructure / Exiftool Vendored.js

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Fast, cross-platform Node.js access to ExifTool

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Fast, cross-platform Node.js access to ExifTool.

npm version CI GitHub issues Language grade: JavaScript Known Vulnerabilities


  1. Best-of-class cross-platform performance and reliability.

    Expect an order of magnitude faster performance than other packages.

  2. Proper extraction of

  3. Support for

  4. Robust type definitions of the top 99.5% tags used by over 6,000 different camera makes and models (see an example)

  5. Auditable ExifTool source code (the vendored code is checksum verified)

  6. Automated updates to ExifTool (as new versions come out monthly)

  7. Robust test coverage, performed with on macOS, Linux, and Windows


 yarn add exiftool-vendored


 npm install --save exiftool-vendored

Note that exiftool-vendored provides an installation of ExifTool relevant for your local platform through optionalDependencies.

You shouldn't include either the exiftool-vendored.exe or as direct dependencies to your project.

If you're installing on a minimal Linux distribution, like Alpine, you may need to install perl (à la "apk add perl").


See the CHANGELOG for breaking changes since you last updated.

Major version bumps

I bump the major version if there's a chance existing code might be affected.

I've been bit too many times by my code breaking when I pull in minor or patch upgrades with other libraries. I think it's better to be pessimistic in code change impact analysis: "over-promise and under-deliver" your breaking-code changes.

When you upgrade to a new major version, please take a bit more care in validating your own systems, but don't be surprised when everything still works.


There are many configuration options to ExifTool, but all values have (more or less sensible) defaults.

Those defaults have been used to create the exiftool singleton. Note that if you don't use the default singleton, you don't need to .end() it.

// We're using the singleton here for convenience:
const exiftool = require("exiftool-vendored").exiftool

// And to verify everything is working:
  .then((version) => console.log(`We're running ExifTool v${version}`))

If the default ExifTool constructor parameters wont' work for you, it's just a class that takes an options hash:

const ExifTool = require("exiftool-vendored").ExifTool
const exiftool = new ExifTool({ taskTimeoutMillis: 5000 })

You should only use the exported default exiftool singleton, or only create one instance of ExifTool as a singleton.

Remember to .end() whichever singleton you use.

General API returns a Promise to a Tags instance. Note that errors may be returned either by rejecting the promise, or for less severe problems, via the errors field.

All other public ExifTool methods return Promise<void>, and will reject the promise if the operation is not successful.

Tags types

ExifTool knows how to extract several thousand different tag fields.

Unfortunately, TypeScript crashes with error TS2590: Expression produces a union type that is too complex to represent if the Tags interface was comprehensive.

Instead, we build a corpus of "commonly seen" tags from over 5,000 different digital camera makes and models, many from the ExifTool metadata repository.

Here are some example fields:

  /** ★☆☆☆ ✔ Example: 200 */
  ISO?: number

  /** ★★★★ ✔ Example: 1920 */
  ImageHeight?: number

  /** ★★★★ ✔ Example: 1080 */
  ImageWidth?: number

  /** ★★★★ ✔ Example: "image/jpeg" */
  MIMEType?: string

The stars represent how common that field has a value in the example corpus. ★★★★ fields are found in > 50% of the examples. ☆☆☆☆ fields are found in < 1% of examples.

The checkmark denotes if the field is found in "popular" cameras (like recent Nikon, Canon, Sony, and Apple devices).

Caveats with Tags

The fields in Tags are not comprehensive.

Just because a field is missing from the Tags interface does not mean the field doesn't exist in the returned object. This library doesn't exclude unknown fields, in other words. It's up to you and your code to look for other fields you expect, and cast to a more relevant interface.

Errors and Warnings

ExifTool has a pretty exhaustive set of error checking, and many "errors" are actually non-fatal warnings about invalid tag structures that seem to be regularly found in otherwise-not-corrupt images.

If we rejected every read or write when any error happened, this would prevent reading and/or writing to otherwise-ok files. To "demote" errors to be warnings that don't reject the underlying task, you can provide either a minorErrorsRegExp, or an implementation of rejectTaskOnStderr. Either of these parameters are provided to the ExifTool constructor.

Logging and events

To enable trace, debug, info, warning, or error logging from this library and the underlying batch-cluster library, usesetLogger. Example code can be found here.

ExifTool instances emits events for "startError", "taskError", "endError", "beforeEnd", and "end" that you can register listeners for, using on.

Reading tags

  .then((tags /*: Tags */) =>
      `Make: ${tags.Make}, Model: ${tags.Model}, Errors: ${tags.errors}`
  .catch((err) => console.error("Something terrible happened: ", err))

Extracting embedded images

Extract the low-resolution thumbnail in path/to/image.jpg, write it to path/to/thumbnail.jpg, and return a Promise<void> that is fulfilled when the image is extracted:

exiftool.extractThumbnail("path/to/image.jpg", "path/to/thumbnail.jpg")

Extract the Preview image (only found in some images):

exiftool.extractPreview("path/to/image.jpg", "path/to/preview.jpg")

Extract the JpgFromRaw image (found in some RAW images):

exiftool.extractJpgFromRaw("path/to/image.cr2", "path/to/fromRaw.jpg")

Extract the binary value from "tagname" tag in path/to/image.jpg and write it to dest.bin (which cannot exist already and whose parent directory must already exist):

exiftool.extractBinaryTag("tagname", "path/to/file.exf", "path/to/dest.bin")

Writing tags

Note that only a portion of tags are writable. Refer to the documentation and look under the "Writable" column.

If you apply malformed values or ask to write to tags that aren't supported, the returned Promise will be rejected.

Only string and numeric primitive are supported as values to the object

Write a comment to the given file so it shows up in the Windows Explorer Properties panel:

exiftool.write("path/to/file.jpg", { XPComment: "this is a test comment" })

Change the DateTimeOriginal, CreateDate and ModifyDate tags (using the AllDates shortcut) to 4:56pm UTC on February 6, 2016:

exiftool.write("path/to/file.jpg", { AllDates: "2016-02-06T16:56:00" })

Always Beware: Timezones

If you edit a timestamp tag, realize that the difference between the changed timestamp tag and the GPS value is used by exiftool-vendored to infer the timezone.

In other words, if you only edit the CreateDate and don't edit the GPS timestamps, your timezone will either be incorrect or missing. See the section about Dates below for more information.

Rewriting tags

You may find that some of your images have corrupt metadata, and that writing new dates, or editing the rotation information, for example, fails. ExifTool can try to repair these images by rewriting all the metadata into a new file, along with the original image content. See the documentation for more details about this functionality.

rewriteAllTags returns a void Promise that will be rejected if there are any errors.

exiftool.rewriteAllTags("problematic.jpg", "rewritten.jpg")

ExifTool configuration support (.ExifTool_config)

ExifTool has an extensive user configuration system. There are several ways to use one:

  1. Place your user configuration file in your HOME directory
  2. Set the EXIFTOOL_HOME environment variable to the fully-qualified path that contains your user config.
  3. Specify the in the ExifTool constructor options:
new ExifTool({ exiftoolEnv: { EXIFTOOL_HOME: resolve("path", "to", "config", "dir") }

Resource hygiene

Always remember to call .end().

ExifTool child processes consume system resources. Ensure you don't leave zombie processes around by calling .end(), which returns a Promise<void> if you want to wait for the shutdown to be complete.

Mocha v4.0.0

If you use mocha v4 or later, and you don't call exiftool.end(), you will find that your test suite hangs. The relevant change is described here, and can be solved by adding an after block that shuts down the instance of ExifTool that your tests are using:

after(() => exiftool.end()) // assuming your singleton is called `exiftool`


The date metadata in all your images and videos are, most likely, underspecified.

Images and videos rarely specify a time zone in their dates. If all your files were captured in your current time zone, defaulting to the local time zone is a safe assumption, but if you have files that were captured in different parts of the world, this assumption will not be correct. Parsing the same file in different parts of the world results in a different times for the same file.

Prior to version 7, heuristic 1 and 3 was applied.

As of version 7.0.0, exiftool-vendored uses the following heuristics. The highest-priority heuristic to return a value will be used as the timezone offset for all datetime tags that don't already have a specified timezone.

Heuristic 1: explicit metadata

If the EXIF TimeZoneOffset tag is present it will be applied as per the spec to DateTimeOriginal, and if there are two values, the ModifyDate tag as well. OffsetTime, OffsetTimeOriginal, and OffsetTimeDigitized are also respected, if present (but are very rarely set).

Heuristic 2: GPS location

If GPS latitude and longitude is present and valid (the value of 0, 0 is considered invalid), the tz-lookup library will be used to determine the time zone name for that location.

Heuristic 3: UTC timestamps

If GPSDateTime or DateTimeUTC is present, the delta with the dates found within the file, as long as the delta is valid, is used as the timezone offset. Deltas of > 14 hours are considered invalid.

ExifDate and ExifDateTime

Because datetimes have this optionally-set timezone, and some tags only specify the date, this library returns classes that encode the date, the time of day, or both, with an optional timezone and an optional tzoffset: ExifDateTime and ExifTime. It's up to you, then, to determine what's correct for your situation.

Note also that some smartphones record timestamps with microsecond precision (not just millis!), and both ExifDateTime and ExifTime have floating point milliseconds.


Official EXIF tag names are PascalCased, like AFPointSelected and ISO. ("Fixing" the field names to be camelCase, would result in ungainly aFPointSelected and iSO atrocities).

The Tags interface is auto-generated by the mktags script, which parses through over 6,000 unique camera make and model images, in large part sourced from the ExifTool site. mktags groups tags, extracts their type, popularity, and example values such that your IDE can autocomplete.

For an example of a group of tags, see the EXIFTags interface.

Tags marked with "★★★★", like MIMEType, should be found in most files. Of the several thousand metadata tags, realize less than 50 are found generally. You'll need to do your own research to determine which tags are valid for your uses.

Note that if parsing fails (for, example, a datetime string), the raw string will be returned. Consuming code should verify both existence and type as reasonable for safety.


The npm run mktags target reads all tags found in a batch of sample images and parses the results.

Using exiftool-vendored:

Read 2236 unique tags from 3011 files.
Parsing took 16s (5.4ms / file) # windows 10, core i7, maxProcs 4
Parsing took 27s (9.0ms / file) # ubuntu 18.04, core i3, maxProcs 1
Parsing took 13s (4.2ms / file) # ubuntu 18.04, core i3, maxProcs 4

# September 2020 update with > 2x more files and faster CPU:
Read 3100 unique tags from 8028 files.
Parsing took 16s (2.0ms / file) # ubuntu 20.04, AMD Ryzen 9 3900X, maxProcs 24

Using the exiftool npm package takes 7-10x longer, and doesn't work on Windows.

Reading 3011 files...
Parsing took 86s (28.4ms / file) # ubuntu, core i3

Batch mode

Using ExifTool's -stay_open batch mode means we can reuse a single instance of ExifTool across many requests, dropping response latency dramatically as well as reducing system load.


To avoid overwhelming your system, the exiftool singleton is configured with a maxProcs set to a quarter the number of CPUs on the current system (minimally 1); no more than maxProcs instances of exiftool will be spawned. If the system is CPU constrained, however, you may want a smaller value. If you have very fast disk IO, you may see a speed increase with larger values of maxProcs, but note that each child process can consume 100 MB of RAM.


Contributors 🎉


See the CHANGELOG on github.

Note that the project description data, including the texts, logos, images, and/or trademarks, for each open source project belongs to its rightful owner. If you wish to add or remove any projects, please contact us at [email protected].