How to view EXIF image metadata in the Finder’s new Gallery view on macOS Mojave

The Finder on macOS Mojave brings a new Gallery View that lets you view image metadata and work with your files visually

macOS Mojave brought a new Gallery view to the Finder. Replacing Cover Flow (itself borrowed from the iTunes era), this new mode lets you skim through big previews of your files and visually identify ones you’re looking for. In addition, macOS’s Preview pane now displays EXIF metadata, making it way easier to visually manage media assets, like your photos.

What is image metadata?

Metadata provides the key details of any file.

EXIF data is metadata for images. For the purposes of this tutorial, we’re not going to make any notable distinction between the general file metadata and EXIF data.

Metadata is created by the device you took a photo with (say, your iPhone). Image editors like Photoshop may augment the initial image metadata with new information, like version number or author, as you perform touch ups.

On top of that, specialized apps allow you to edit EXIF image data manually.

File metadata is shown in a column on the righthand side

Image metadata is shown in a column on the righthand side

The supported metadata records include image dimensions, title, resolution, camera model, location, shutter speed, ISO, date and time, copyright information, descriptions, thumbnails etc.

Metadata on iPhone, iPad & Mac

Metadata is written, read and supported on both iOS and macOS.

Even though iOS interprets metadata in situations like viewing images in Photos on a world map, it does not expose it to the end user. In other words, you’ll need a third-party app to view or edit EXIF metadata on iOS.

TUTORIAL: How to remove location from your iPhone photos

On macOS Mojave, as I mentioned earlier, viewing detailed metadata for any images stored on your Mac is now a breeze thanks to the Finder’s all-new Gallery view.

Continue reading this tutorial for the step-by-step instructions showing you how to view the metadata for your photos, including location data and detailed EXIF data.

How to view image metadata on Mac

This is how you can access the full EXIF image metadata in the Finder.

1) Click the Finder icon in the Dock to open a new Finder window.

A screenshot of the Finder icon in the Dock

TIP: Alternatively, click the desktop to select the Finder, then click the File menu and choose the command New Finder Window or press Command (⌘)-N on the keyboard.

2) With the Finder window selected, navigate to a desired folder.

3) Click the rightmost icon in a group of four icons at the top of the Finder window.

Click this icon to switch to the Gallery view

TIP: Alternatively, press the keys Command (⌘)-4 while in the Finder window. Or, with a Finder window open, click the View menu and select the option As Gallery.

The Gallery view divides the Finder window into two major areas.

The Gallery view looks good in Light Mode

This is the new Gallery feature with macOS Mojave’s Light Mode selected

There’s a strip of thumbnail icons running alongside the bottom, which makes it easy to see the rest of your images by scrubbing through the thumbnails, with the rest of the window taken up by a big preview of the selected file.

In Dark Mode, the Gallery view looks best

Dark Mode in conjunction with the Gallery view makes your images “pop” more

4) Enable the Preview pane by choosing the option Show Preview from the View menu.

You can show or hide the Preview pane in the Gallery view

Turn the Preview pane on or off at will

TIP: Alternatively, simultaneously press the keys Command (⌘)-Option (⌥)-P on the keyboard to show or hide the Preview pane. Drag the divider to enlarge or shrink the Preview pane, which displays all of a file’s metadata.

5) Select a photo and its metadata appears in the Preview column on the righthand side.

You can also show more or less of a file's metadata

The amount of metadata displayed depends on the selected file

This makes it super simple to quickly check out EXIF details like the camera model, aperture and exposure without having to open the file in an image editor like Preview or Pixelmator.

The amount of metadata shown depends on the selected file

Metadata information may include location where the image was taken

Don’t see any metadata? Click the link Show More at the bottom of the Preview pane to expose any EXIF metadata. Likewise, to display only the basic info about the selected file, like its name, creation date, size and more, click the link Show Less.

Don’t forget about Quick Actions

While not the subject of this tutorial, the new Quick Actions feature in macOS Mojave makes it easy to perform basic image edits right from the Quick Look interface or the Gallery view. Quick Actions are available at the bottom of the Preview pane.

Depending on the selected file type, you’ll see appropriate actions. Highlight a PDF, for example, and you may see the Markup option or another one to password-protect the document. Choose a video file to have the relevant Quick Actions— like Trim and Rotate Left (or Right, if you hold the Option key while clicking the icon)—appear in the toolbar.

A panel with Quick Actions sits at the bottom of the Preview pane

Press the Option key for additional options, like Rotate Right

And lastly, if an image file is selected, the relevant Quick Actions permit you to rotate the photo by 90 degrees counterclockwise and access the Markup interface. You can even work on multiple files at once, or assign an Automator task as a Quick Action.

The Gallery view on macOS Mojave replaces the previous Cover Flow mode

A powerful combo: the Finder’s Gallery view + metadata and Quick Actions in the Preview Pane

macOS Mojave brings a few other Finder improvements and system-wide enhancements, like a new Stacks feature designed to automatically organize messy desktops by stacking files neatly into related groups at the side of the screen.

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