Change in creation date/time (metadata) of files on Google Photos doesn't reflect in downloaded copies

Looks like we have found another glitch in Google Photos. The service is layered to the extent that whenever we sit to test some use-cases, we end up bumping into loop holes of some other kind. And that’s how we came up with today’s story, which is related to photos/vidoes metadata.

Coming to the point, for images uploaded to Google Photos, if metadata is edited, for some reason, the service fails to communicate changes to downloaded copy of the same picture or video. What’s the entire point of modifying date or time if changes are limited to the service itself?

While investigating multiple use cases with Google Photos, we came across the limitation in question, wherein changes stick only to the image or video stored on cloud . We tested the following scenarios to confirm this limitation:

Use Case 1: We uploaded a picture/viedo by drag and drop to photos.google.com and edited the same

Observation: On manipulating create date and time, followed by saving the changes and then finally downloading the image/viedeo, the modifications were not reflected in the downloaded copy. This can be clearly seen in the following screenshot, where the details of the downloaded image are different in comparison to the one on Google Photos.

google-photos-metadata-issue

Note: We used the exiftool tool to check date/time info for the downloaded copy.

Use case 2: Uploaded a picture/video through the Backup and Sync app and edited the same on Google Photos

Observation: Once synced, the picture/video in focus was edited for date and time. We were expecting that the changes would be synced back to the picture’s/video’s local copy on desktop as well. But – maintaining its historical records of not doing as expected – Google Photos made sure the downloaded copy remained unchanged.

To conclude, the changes made on the cloud copy were no where to be seen in the downloaded copy in both use cases. So the next time you make any metadata related change on your photos/videos stored on Google Photos, keep in mind there is no way you can have that change in downloaded copies, until of course, you do that manually for downloaded copies as well.

P.S. We also tried another use case, wherein an image was directly uploaded to photos.google.com (by drag and drop method) and its date and time was modified. All this while the Backup and Sync app was paused. We then enabled the app, hoping it will detect the image in cloud and create a local copy in the synced folder on our system. But that didn’t happen, and our aim of verifying the propagation of date/time related changes to the local copy didn’t materialize. We’ll be digging deep into it, and rest assured, sharing all the valuable outcomes soon.

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Dr. Aparajita Sharma

A budding entrepreneur by profession, and a psychologist by education. As a founding member of PiunikaWeb, I am nurturing this firstborn with my sharp-eyed expertise and even journalistic writing when needed.