jhead - Digicam JPEG Exif header manipulation tool
jhead [ options ] [ file... ]
jhead is used to display and manipulate data contained in the Exif
header of JPEG images from digital cameras. By default, jhead displays
the more useful camera settings from the file in a user-friendly
jhead can also be used to manipulate some aspects of the image relating
to JPEG and Exif headers, such as changing the internal timestamps,
removing the thumbnail, or transferring Exif headers back into edited
images after graphical editors deleted the Exif header. jhead can also
be used to launch other programs, similar in style to the UNIX find
command, but much simpler.
GENERAL METADATA OPTIONS
Transplant Exif header from a JPEG (with Exif header) in file
into the image that is manipulated. This option is useful if
you like to edit the photos but still want the Exif header on
your photos. As most photo editing programs will wipe out the
Exif header, this option can be used to re-copy them back from
original copies after editing the photos.
This feature has an interesting ’relative path’ option for
specifying the thumbnail name. Whenever the <name> contains the
characters ’&i’, will substitute the original filename for this
name. This allows creating a jhead ’relative name’ when doing a
whole batch of files. For example, the incantation:
jhead -te "originals/&i" *.jpg
would transfer the exif header for each .jpg file in the
originals directory by the same name, Both Win32 and most Unix
shells treat the ’&’ character in a special way, so you have to
put quotes around that command line option for the ’&’ to even
be passed to the program.
-dc Delete comment field from the JPEG header. Note that the
comment is not part of the Exif header.
-de Delete the Exif header entirely. Leaves other metadata sections
-di Delete the IPTC section, if present. Leaves other metadata
-dx Delete the XMP section, if present. Leaves other metadata
-du Delete sections of jpeg that are not Exif, not comment, and
otherwise not contributing to the image either - such as data
that photoshop might leave in the image.
Delete all JPEG sections that aren’t necessary for rendering the
image. Strips any metadata that various applications may have
left in the image. A combination of the -de -dc and -du
Creates minimal exif header. Exif header contains date/time, and
empty thumbnail fields only. Date/time set to file time by
default. Use with -rgt option if you want the exif header to
contain a thumbnail. Note that exif header creation is very
limited at this time, and no other fields can be added to the
exif header this way.
-ce Edit the JPEG header comment field (note, this comment field is
outside the Exif structure and can be part of Exif and non Exif
style JPEG images).
A temporary file containing the comment is created and a text
editor is launched to edit the file. The editor is specified in
the EDITOR environment variable. If none is specified notepad
or vi are used under Windows and Unix respectively. After the
editor exits, the data is transferred back into the image, and
the temporary file deleted.
Save comment section to a file
Replace comment with text from file
Replace comment with specified string from command line file
DATE / TIME MANIPULATION OPTIONS
-ft Sets the file’s system time stamp to what is stored in the Exif
-dsft Sets the Exif timestamp to the file’s timestamp. Requires an
Exif header to pre-exist. Use -mkexif option to create one if
This option causes files to be renamed and/ or mmoved using the
date information from the Exif header "DateTimeOriginal" field.
If the file is not an Exif file, or the DateTimeOriginal does
not contain a valid value, the file date is used. Renaming is
by default restricted to files whose names consist largely of
digits. This effectively restricts renaming to files that have
not already been manually renamed, as the default sequential
names from digital cameras consist largely of digits. Use the
-nf option to force renaming of all files. If the new name
contains a ’/’, this will be interpreted as a new path, and the
file will be moved accordingly.
If the format_string is omitted, the file will be renamed to
MMDD-HHMMSS. Note that this scheme doesn’t include the year (I
never have photos from different years together anyway).
If a format_string is provided, it will be passed to the
strftime function as the format string. In addition, if the
format string contains ’%f’, this will substitute the original
name of the file (minus extension). ’%i’ will substitute a
sequence number. Leading zeros can be specified like with
printf - i.e. ’%04i’ pads the number to 4 digits using leading
If the name includes ’/’, this is interpreted as a new path for
the file. If the new path does not exist, the path will be
If the target name already exists, the name will be appended
with "a", "b", "c", etc, unless the name ends with a letter, in
which case it will be appended with "0", "1", "2", etc.
This feature is especially useful if more than one digital
camera was used to take pictures of an event. By renaming them
to a scheme according to date, they will automatically appear in
order of taking in most directory listings and image browsers.
Alternatively, if your image browser supports listing by file
time, you can use the -ft option to set the file time to the
time the photo was taken.
Some of the more useful arguments for strftime are:
%H Hour in 24-hour format (00 - 23)
%j Day of year as decimal number (001 - 366)
%m Month as decimal number (01 - 12)
%M Minute as decimal number (00 - 59)
%S Second as decimal number (00 - 59)
%w Weekday as decimal number (0 - 6; Sunday is 0)
%y Year without century, as decimal number (00 - 99)
%Y Year with century, as decimal number
jhead -n%Y%m%d-%H%M%S *.jpg
This will rename files matched by *.jpg in the format
For a full listing of strftime arguments, look up the strftime
in them man pages. Note that some arguments to the strftime
function (not listed here) produce strings with characters such
as ’:’ that may not be valid as part of a filename on some
-nf Same as ’-n’ but renames files regardless of original file name.
Adjust time stored in the Exif header by h:mm backwards or
forwards. Useful when having taken pictures with the wrong time
set on the camera, such as after travelling across time zones,
or when daylight savings time has changed.
This option changes all Date/time fields in the exif header,
including "DateTimeOriginal" (tag 0x9003) and
"DateTimeDigitized" (tag 0x9004).
Works like -ta, but for specifying large date offsets, to be
used when fixing dates from cameras where the date was set
incorrectly, such as having date and time reset by battery
removal on some cameras
Because different months and years have different numbers of
days in them, a simple offset for months, days, years would lead
to unexpected results at times. The time offset is thus
specified as a difference between two dates, so that jhead can
figure out exactly how many days the timestamp needs to be
adjusted by, including leap years and daylight savings time
changes. The dates are specified as yyyy:mm:dd. For sub-day
adjustments, a time of day can also be included, by specifying
yyyy:nn:dd/hh:mm or yyyy:mm:dd/hh:mm:ss
Year on camera was set to 2005 instead of 2004 for pictures
taken in April
Default camera date is 2002:01:01, and date was reset on
2005:05:29 at 11:21 am
-ts Sets the time stored in the Exif header to what is specified on
the command line. Time must be specified as:
-ds Sets the date stored in the Exif header to what is specified on
the command line. Can be used to set date, just year and month,
or just year. Date is specified as: yyyy:mm:dd, yyyy:mm, or
THUMBNAIL MANIPULATION OPTIONS
-dt Delete thumbnails from the Exif header, but leave the
interesting parts intact. This option truncates the thumbnail
from the Exif header, provided that the thumbnail is the last
part of the Exif header (which so far as I know is always the
case). Exif headers have a built-in thumbnail, which typically
occupies around 10k of space. This thumbnail is used by digital
cameras. Windows XP may also use this thumbnail if present (but
it doesn’t need it). The thumbnails are too small to use even
full screen on the digicam’s LCD. I have not encountered any
adverse side effects of deleting the thumbnails, even from the
software provided with my old Olympus digicam. Use with
Save the integral thumbnail to file The thumbnail lives inside
the Exif header, and is a very low-res JPEG image. Note that
making any changes to a photo, except for with some programs,
generally wipes out the Exif header and with it the thumbnail.
The thumbnail is too low res to really use for very much.
This feature has an interesting ’relative path’ option for
specifying the thumbnail name. Whenever the name for file
contains the characters ’&i’, jhead will substitute the
original filename for this name. This allows creating a
’relative name’ when doing a whole batch of files. For example,
jhead -st "thumbnails/&i" *.jpg
would create a thumbnail for each .jpg file in the thumbnails
directory by the same name, (provided that the thumbnails
directory exists, of course). Both Win32 and UNIX shells treat
the ’&’character in a special way, so you have to put quotes
around that command line option for the ’&’ to even be passed to
If a ’-’ is specified for the output file, the thumbnail is sent
to stdout. (UNIX build only)
-rt Replace thumbnails from the Exif header. This only works if the
exif header already contains a thumbnail, and the thumbnail is
at the end of the header (both always the case if the photo came
from a digital camera)
Regenerate exif thumbnail. ’size’ specifies maximum height or
width of thumbnail. Relies on ’mogrify’ program (from
ImageMagick) to regenerate the thumbnail. This only works if
the image already contains a thumbnail.
Using the ’Orientation’ tag of the Exif header, rotate the image
so that it is upright. The program jpegtran is used to perform
the rotation. This program is present in most Linux
distributions. For windows, you need to get a copy of it.
After rotation, the orientation tag of the Exif header is set to
’1’ (normal orientation). The thumbnail is also rotated. Other
fields of the Exif header, including dimensions are untouched,
but the JPEG height/width are adjusted. This feature is
especially useful with newer Canon cameras, that set the
orientation tag automatically using a gravity sensor.
-norot Clears the rotation field in the Exif header without altering
the image. Useful if the images were previously rotated without
clearing the Exif rotation tag, as some image browsers will auto
rotate images when the rotation tag is set. Sometimes,
thumbnails and rotation tags can get very out of sync from
manipulation with various tools. To reset it all use -norot
with -rgt to clear this out.
OUTPUT VERBOSITY CONTROL
-h Displays summary of command line options.
-v Makes the program even more verbose than it already is. Like
DOS programs, and unlike UNIX programs, Jhead gives feedback as
to what it is doing, even when nothing goes wrong. Windows user
that I am, when something doesn’t give me feedback for 20
seconds, I assume its crashed.
-q No output on success, more like Unix programs.
-V Print version info and compilation date. -exifmap Show a map of
the bytes in the exif header. Useful when analyzing strange exif
headers, not of much use to non software developers.
-se Suppress error messages relating to corrupt Exif header
-c Concise output. This causes picture info to be summarized on
one line instead of several. Useful for grep-ing through
images, as well as importing into spread sheets (data is space
delimited with quotes as text qualifier).
FILE MATCHING OPTIONS
-model Restricts processing of files to those whose camera model, as
indicated by the Exif image information, contains the substring
specified in the argument after ’-model’. For example, the
following command will list only images that are from an S100
jhead -model S100 *.jpg
I use this option to restrict my JPEG recompensing to those
images that came from my Canon S100 digicam, (see the -cmd
Skip all files that don’t have an Exif header. Photos straight
from a digital camera have an Exif header, whereas many photo
manipulation tools discard the Exif header.
-cmd Executes the specified command on each JPEG file to be
The Exif section of each file is read before running the
command, and reinserted after the command finishes.
The specified command invoked separately for each JPEG that is
processed, even if multiple files are specified (explicitly or
by wild card).
Having a whole directory of photos from my S100, I run the
jhead -cmd "mogrify -quality 80 &i" -model S100 *.jpg
jhead -cmd "jpegtran -progressive &i > &o" *.jpg
The first command mogrifies all JPEGs in the tree that indicate
that they are from a Canon S100 in their Exif header to 80%
quality at the same resolution. This is a ’lossy’ process, so I
only run it on files that are from the Canon, and only run it
once. The next command then takes a JPEGs and converts them to
progressive JPEGs. The result is the same images, with no
discernible differences, stored in half the space. This
produces substantial savings on some cameras.
jpegtran(1), mogrify(1), rdjpgcom(1), wrjpgcom(1)
After jhead runs a program to rotate or resize an image, the image
dimensions and thumbnail in the Exif header are not adjusted.
Modifying of Exif header data is very limited, as Jhead internally only
has a read only implementation of the file system contained in the Exif
header. For example, there is no way to replace the thumbnail or edit
the Exif comment in the Exif header. There is also no way to create
minimal exif headers.
Some Canon digital SLR cameras fail to adjust the effective sensor
resolution when shooting at less than full resolution, causing jhead to
incorrectly miscalculate the sensor width and 35mm equivalent focal
length. The same can result from resizing photos with Photoshop, which
will manipulate parts of the exif header. This is often reported as a
bug in Jhead, but Jhead can’t do much about incorrect data.
Send bug reports to mwandel at sentex dot net.
Jhead is ’public domain’. You may freely copy jhead, and reuse part or
all of its code in free or proprietary programs. I do however request
that you do not post my e-mail address in ways that spam robots can