Renaming Images to Their EXIF Timestamps

EXIF is a metdata specification largely used by modern versions of JPEG and TIFF. It allows you embed a wealth of descriptive information into a picture taken by your camera. Notably, this also, usually, includes one or more timestamps. In the event that you find yourself with a directory of anonymously-named images that you’d like to rename with their timestamps, I’ve written a quick Python script to automate such a task. This script assumes that you have the exif tool installed. It’s readily available for both Linux and Mac OS.


import os
import subprocess
import glob
import datetime

_PICTURE_PATH = '/my/pictures/are/here'

_EXIF_COMMAND = 'exif'
_FILESPEC = '*.jpg'
_NEW_FILENAME_TEMPLATE = '{timestamp_phrase}.jpg'

def _get_exif_info(filepath):
    cmd = [_EXIF_COMMAND, '-m', filepath]
    p = subprocess.Popen(cmd, stdout=subprocess.PIPE)
    exif_tab_delimited =
    r = p.wait()
    if r != 0:
        raise ValueError("EXIF command failed: %s" % (cmd,))

    lines = exif_tab_delimited.strip().split('n')[1:]
    pairs = [l.split('t') for l in lines]
    return dict(pairs)

def _get_filepaths(path):
    full_pattern = os.path.join(path, _FILESPEC)
    for filepath in glob.glob(full_pattern):
        yield filepath

def _main():
    for original_filepath in _get_filepaths(_PICTURE_PATH):
        exif = _get_exif_info(original_filepath)

            exif_timestamp_phrase = exif[_COMMON_EXIF_TIMESTAMP_FIELD_NAME]
        except KeyError:
            print("ERROR: {0}: Missing timestamp field".format(original_filepath))


        timestamp_dt = 

        output_timestamp_phrase = 

        new_filename = _NEW_FILENAME_TEMPLATE.format(

        new_filepath = os.path.join(path, new_filename)

        print("{0} => {1}".format(original_filepath, new_filepath))
        os.rename(original_filepath, new_filepath)

if __name__ == '__main__':


  1. Save the script to a file.
  2. Update the value for _PICTURE_PATH to the path of your pictures.
  3. Optionally, update _FILESPEC to the correct pattern/casing of your files.
  4. Optionally, update _COMMON_EXIF_TIMESTAMP_FIELD_NAME to the correct EXIF field-name if the device that created the pictures used a different field-name (you can use the exif tool directly to explore your images).
  5. If the timestamp is not formatted using the standard colon-delimited EXIF timestamp (e.g. 2012:04:29 20:51:32), update _EXIF_TIMESTAMP_FORMAT to reflect the proper format.
  6. Run using whatever name you gave the script:
    $ python


Success output will look something like:

./IMG_3871.jpg => ./20131127-143832.jpg
./IMG_3872.jpg => ./20131127-143836.jpg
./IMG_3879.jpg => ./20131127-144045.jpg
./IMG_3880.jpg => ./20131127-144105.jpg
./IMG_3927.jpg => ./20131128-172021.jpg