I have been tackling the problem of adding or attaching source information to digital documents lately. I came up with a wonderful technique to do this with PDF files. You can read about that here.
Today I want to turn to sourcing image files. Image files include JPEG or GIF files, that is the file name ends in the extension “.jpg” or “.gif.” They are typically photos, but can be any document that has been saved as a picture.
Some image files you may come across include:
- A screenshot of a webpage, where there may be an index listing, a map, or other information not contained in a separate document
- A photo
- A document that has been downloaded from a website, i.e. ancestry.com or familysearch.org
- A picture or image you have saved from Google Images.
The challenge we inevitably face is how and where to put the information about where the file is from, and who created it. If it were paper, you could write on the document or attach a note. It’s not that easy with digital files, but it is just as important to source them.
Ah Ha Moment!
Okay, truth be told, this wasn’t my idea, but that of the archivist at the Midwest Genealogy Center, so it isn’t my “ah ha moment.” But it’s a good idea nonetheless.
Her idea was to make use of the “Properties” section of any digital file and save the source information there. I’m sure you’ve seen the “properties” section on a digital file before and never gave it a second thought, but right there is the key to the solution for this challenge.
How to Use the Properties Section of an Image File
- Go to your digital image file by way of Windows Explorer or other file navigation tool. Don’t open the file.
- Right click on the file name just like you would if you were going to rename the file. Then click on the last item on the menu that comes up, “properties.”
- Go to the tab labeled “Summary” or “Details.”
4. There you will have a number of fields, i.e. author, title, comments, that you can fill out. You can use them any way you would like. You can put the title of your source in “title.” You can put the author of your source in “author,” or you can copy and paste all of the source information in “details” or “comments.”
5. Click “apply” or “save.”
That’s all there is to it. Now you’ve permanently documented the source information and associated it with the file. Wow.
If you send the file to anyone, they, too, will have the source information. If you return to the file in weeks or years, the information will all be there. Safe and sound and in as much detail as you want.
Have you ever run your mouse over a file name when you’re in Windows Explorer or another navigation tool and a yellow box with useless information pops up? That’s called a “mouseover” or “tag” file. When you’ve added the source information to the properties fields of an image file, that information shows up in the “mouseover!” Wow. So when you’re looking at your list of documents or images, you can just slide your mouse over the file names and easily see their sources! Too cool.
Try it out! I think you’ll be delighted with the results.