Itag

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Itag is a free image tagging and search application that can be used to add titles, descriptions, and common tags to image collections of any size. Metadata applied to images using Itag is strored in the IPTC header of each jpeg and is read by a wide range of popular applications including Picasa, Flickr, IrfanView, XnView, and many others.

With so many images that end up on my hard drive these days I have come to the realization that sorting them into a meticulously maintained folder structure – which I used to do years ago – will probably never happen. No big deal, really, except when it comes to finding those pictures of that camping trip I took 2 years ago, or pictures of the baby when she was first born, or … anything else for that matter.

Itag provides a solution for applying titles, descriptions, and tags to your photo collection. This means that, once tagged, images can be found using a search box or tag cloud and it no longer matters where they are stored within your folder structure. The other obvious advantage, of course, is that images can have multiple tags (e.g. an image of your friend Charlie taken when you went camping together in 2005 can be tagged with “Camping”, “Charlie”, and “2005”, and can be found within a search for any of those terms).

Here are some notes on this program:

  • The User Interface: split into 2 main editing and image search sections. All operations are performed on the left hand pane and are fairly simple and self explanatory.
  • Tag clouds: you can navigate your images using a tag cloud in the search section (note: use the “build index” function to ensure that any previous metadata that may exist is read into Itag). Although you can get a full-screen view of any image by clicking it with the middle mouse button, Itag does not pretend to be a full-fledged image viewer.
  • Search: is well implemented and includes an “advanced search” mode with nice features such as limiting the search to a certain folder or date range.
  • Compatibility: various applications offer varying degree of compatibility with IPTC-stored info that Itag uses. It seems that while most applications will read tags, some might ignore or not display titles. See this compatibility list for more info. Note that while Windows Vista photo tags implementation is not compatible with Itag at the time of this writing, the author promises full support as soon as Microsoft releases a debugged version of a certain needed library.
  • GeoTagging support: you can download a Google Earth “placemark” and associate it with your image. For example, Itag can upload my geotagged pictures that our lovely Puget Sound in Seattle into Google Earth. I am not a Google Earth user so I cannot say much about this, but it seems like a very interesting feature.

Wish list (or how this program can be even better):

  • I found myself wishing there was a way to browse images by folder using an explorer style folder structure. This would have made tagging much easier simply because many of my images are categorized within my folder structures. For example, all of my pictures from a camping trip taken 2 years ago might be in “My Pictures/2005/summer camping”, and Itag did not afford any way to hone in on that folder after I’d imported the entire “My Pictures” folder into it.
  • Curiously, once a tag is clicked or a search is performed, there was no self-evident way to select all the pictures again, and I found myself wishing for a simple “select all tags” or “all pictures”.
  • You can limit advanced search to a single folder, but it seems that limiting it to multiple folders can be easily implemented a “checkable” folder structure scheme.

The verdict: Itag is a free application that is both straightforward and very useful, and I have a feeling that it will only get better. Recommended.

Version tested: 180

Compatibility: WinAll; requires Microsoft’s .NET Framework 3.0.

Go to the download page to get the latest version (approx 750K). Also visit the program home page.