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How to timestamp photos on an iPhone / iPad

Photo of scaffolding around building

If you work in construction and need to take photos to use in a report or share with somebody, you may need to have the date and time information stamped onto each photo. This provides the recipient with context as to “when” each photo was taken on site, without them having to dig through the metadata. In this quick article we will explore different ways you can add timestamps to photos on iOS devices.

Can the default iOS camera app add timestamps to photos?

Unfortunately not. Although every photo taken using the default iPhone/iPad camera will store the date and time information in the metadata of each photo file, there is no way to automatically stamp them onto each photo without using a third-party app like SiteCam or using Shortcuts.

How to add timestamps to iPhone photos manually

This isn’t something you would want to do if you have hundreds of photos, but you could use the built in markup tool to add timestamps and other information manually onto a photo. Here is a short video showing how to do this:

YouTube video

How to automate timestamping of photos using iOS Shortcuts

iOS comes with a handy visual scripting application called Shortcuts that allows you to automate tedious tasks such as adding timestamps to photos. If you’ve ever used macros in Excel or Word, it’s pretty much the same thing. Below is a step-by-step guide on how to use Shortcuts to automate the timestamping process:

1. Open the Shortcuts app

Shortcuts iOS app icon

2. Press the + button at the top right of the screen to create a new shortcut.

screenshot of Shortcuts app (iOS). Adding new shortcut.

3. Tap on “New Shortcut” to access the menu and select the “Rename” option to give the shortcut a proper name. In this example, we are calling the shortcut “Timestamp”.

screenshot of Shortcuts app (iOS). Renaming shortcut.

4. Next click on the “Add Action” button to add the first action to the shortcut. Look for the “Select Photos” action in the top search bar and add it in.

screenshot of Shortcuts app (iOS). Adding select photos action.

You can tap on the down arrow to expose some settings for the current action. For the “Select Photos” action, untick “Videos” as this shortcut will only work for photos.

screenshot of Shortcuts app (iOS). Details of Select Photos action.

5. Next, search for the action “Get Details of Images” and add it in. This action will allow you to grab information that is stored in the metadata of the selected photo. Tap on the “Detail” variable and select “Date Taken” from the list.

screenshot of Shortcuts app (iOS). Get details of images.

6. The next step is a little unfortunate, but you have to add a “Resize Image” action to scale down the image. Without this step the shortcut won’t work reliably and you will get a “There was a problem running the shortcut” error message. Once the action has been added, make sure “Image” is set to “Photos” and specify a resize value. In this example, we have set the resize percentage to 50%.

screenshot of Shortcuts app (iOS). Adding resize image action.

7. Add the “Overlay Text” action next. This action will allow you to add text onto the photo. Tap on the “Text” variable and set it to “Date Taken”. You can also specify where you want the timestamp to appear in the photo. In this example, we have set it to “Top Center” with an offset of 5%. If you tap on the down arrow, it will expose additional settings for this action such as the font, font size, font color and text alignment.

screenshot of Shortcuts app (iOS). Adding overlay text action.

Final action to add is “Save to Photo Album”. This action will allow you to save the timestamped photo as a new photo in the phone album. By default, it will appear in your Recent photos album. To test the shortcut, press the Play icon at the bottom right of the screen. To save the shortcut, press the Done button at the top right of the screen

screenshot of Shortcuts app (iOS). Adding save to photo album action.

That’s it! Now all you need to do is to run the shortcut from within the Shortcuts app every time you need to timestamp a photo. You can also add the shortcut to the Home screen so you can run it like another app.

If you wanted to you could create a more advanced shortcut like stamping the GPS coordinates to the photos or adding support to process multiple photos at once.

Limitations of using Shortcuts

Shortcuts can be a powerful tool to speed up the process of adding timestamps to photos but there are some limitations:

  • It can be a little time consuming and fiddly to set up and configure
  • Shortcuts can be a bit buggy (resizing images may not be ideal)
  • It creates duplicate photos

Other options to timestamp photos

There are many other ways to timestamp photos. There are a myriad of timestamping apps available on the App Store. We also wrote an article on how you can use a free software called IrfanView to timestamp photos in Windows.

A better way to store contextual information with a photo

If you work in construction, we created SiteCam to help people like you quickly capture and organize photos while you are on site. Not only is every photo automatically timestamped, you can mark the precise location of a photo onto a plan or a map and also add tags/notes associated with the capture. The photo can then be shared via a URL and all the information will be available for the recipient.

When your teammates also use SiteCam it pools your site photos together for instant access. As an added bonus, this cloud access means your photos are available on any device, so no more plugging your phone in to transfer files!

Try SiteCam for Free

Want an easier way to organize and manage your photos? Try SiteCam for Free and see how your team records better information from the field in less time. Achieve centralized and organized site photos that instantly link to fast reporting templates, saving you time back in the office. Sign up here:

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