How to Keep iPhoto Events in Order With Time Adjustments


We have all seen it happen: the bride kissing the groom before the father has a chance to give his daughter away. I’m speaking, of course, about the sorting of photos in an iPhoto Event.  Taking the time to sync the internal clocks on each camera you own is always good, but there is a way to adjust the time of all of your photos in your library itself, too.

Take Photos of the Current Time in Safari

First, you’ll need a photo of the current time taken from each camera whose internal clock is out of sync. Be sure to disable the flash to avoid screen glare before you complete these steps:

  1. Launch Safari on your Mac and open the URL of an established “time authority” that will display the current time  ( for example).
  2. Using each camera, take a photo of Safari as it displays the correct time.
  3. Import the photo of the correct time from each camera into your iPhoto Library.

Create Smart Albums for Each Camera Model

Now that you have photos of the correct time imported into your iPhoto Library from each camera you own, you will need to isolate the photos for each camera:

  1. From the File menu on iPhoto, create a new Smart Album (one for each camera).
  2. Use the drop down list to set the “Camera Model” condition of the Smart Album to match the relevant camera model for each album you create.
  3. Keep creating Smart Albums until you have a unique Smart Album for each camera.

More Than One Camera of the Same Model

If you happen to have multiple cameras of the same model, then you must add a second field, “Any Text”  to the conditions of the Smart Album and set the value for this field will be set to the serial number of the camera as follows:

  1. Select one of the photos for each camera of the same model.
  2. From iPhoto’s File menu, select “Reveal in Finder” to show where the original photo is located in the Finder and open the photo using the Preview application.
  3. From Preview’s Tools menu, select the “Show Inspector” menu item and navigate to the EXIF tab to find the value of the serial number.
  4. Enter the serial number as the value for the “Any Text” condition of the Smart Album.
  5. Again, keep creating Smart Albums until you have one unique Smart Album for each camera.

Determine the Time Adjustment for Each Camera

By comparing the time represented in the photo to the time stamp on the picture itself, you can determine the amount of the adjustment that must be made.  To determine the adjustment for each camera:

  1. Select only the photo of the correct time as it was displayed in Safari within each Smart Album.
  2. From the Photo menu in iPhoto, select the “Adjust Date and Time…” menu item and copy down the time difference between the time shown in the photo and the time stamp of the image file.
  3. Click cancel, and repeat for each camera’s Smart Album.

Adjust the Time for Each Camera

Now that you have a unique Smart Album defined for each camera, and you know the exact time adjustment required for each camera, all that’s left to do is adjusting the time for all photos in the iPhoto Library for each camera.

  1. Select one of the Smart Albums you created and select all of the photos in the same Smart Album.
  2. ‘From the Photo menu in iPhoto, select the “Adjust Date and Time…” menu item and modify the date/time of all of the photos in these Smart Library, using the interval you discovered when comparing the time displayed in the image to the time stamp of the photo from that camera.
  3. Be sure to check “Modify original files.”
  4. Click Adjust, and repeat for each camera’s Smart Album.

It may seem like a lot of work, but once you’ve done it once, it should hopefully help keep your iPhoto Events in chronological working order for a long time to come, without requiring you to make manual changes each to the metadata of each photo you add.

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