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Dating Old Photos
September 30, 2019
10:11 pm
Old Fart
Forum Posts: 26
Member Since:
January 25, 2012
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Google Photos displays images by date. This is not a problem If the original image was captured using a digital device and the device was set up correctly. However, when digitizing older photos the date used by google will be the date digitized, which may be nowhere close to the date the image was originally captured. There are various software programs, including Picasa, that allow you to change the date, but how much information is required? I think, but am not 100% certain, the year is required as well as the month and day but would like to know if the month and/or date could be left blank or a wild card symbol used for these fields. The result being the photo would be displayed by just the year.

In most instances, unless you are extremely lucky, arriving at the date the image was originally captured comes down to your best guess. If the software you use to change to a new date requires a year, let alone the month and date, it becomes a game of horseshoes where close counts.

What I am wondering is if you or anyone you are aware of has come up with a methodology for dating old photos. When you search on line you find material on ways to estimate a date but nothing on what to do with the information afterwards. For instance if you narrow the capture date to a year, must you also pick a month and day to use during that year and go with it, or if a range of years, pick a date in the middle of the range. To me this is somewhat like developing a methodology to use when establishing a file structure for storing photos. I believe your preferred file structure being year and month.

I was also wondering if after determining a date for your old photos, if it is best to change the date before or after you upload to Google Photos. My guess, especially if you have digitized lots of old photos is, it would be best to change the date before uploading, but would like your thoughts on this.


As always I appreciate and value your input. Hopefully, you already have the answers to my questions. If not, perhaps it is something to consider for one of you focus groups to study.

October 2, 2019
11:11 am
Forum Posts: 3203
Member Since:
July 2, 2010
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Hello Old Fart!

I often snap a photo of an old photo in order to get it into my Google Photos library, so I know just what you’re talking about. The photo in the album was taken in 1996, but the picture that goes into my Google Photos is the one I just snapped – with today’s date. I cover this issue in the Mrs. Geek’s Guide To Google Photos book on pages 46-47. As a member, you have access to the .pdf version of the book here.

Google Photos can change the date – just open the photo on a computer and click the Info (i-in-a-circle) button. You should now see the date taken and click the little pencil next to it to change the date to anything you want. Yes, you do need a Year / month / and day. I love the old photos that have the date printed on the margin! When I don’t have that, I have to give it my best guess as to the year, then I just try to get the season – summer = June 1  winter = January 1. That’s my system.

 it is best to change the date before or after you upload to Google Photos

If possible, it is best to change the date before uploading. When you change it using Google Photos, you are only changing the date in the Google Photos database, not the meta-data of the photo itself – if you ever download that photo. So, if your photos start out on a computer, then just use Windows files/folders. Select the photo(s) and in the details pane at the right, you will see the date taken. If you don’t see a details pane, turn it on with the menu: View, Detail Pane. You can click on the date here and change it to whatever you want. Make sure to click on Save.

It’s actually very easy to change the date with Windows, but if you took the photo with a phone, it’s hard to get the photo to the computer then back up to Google Photos. I usually don’t bother. I’m still hoping that someday, google gives us the ability to make those dates part of the photo.

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