Metadata is information that is stored in a file that describes the file itself. For example, photos you take with your digital camera contain metadata like the date and time you took the picture, and the exposure settings used to take it.

Opus lets you edit file metadata in three ways:

  • The Metadata Pane is the easiest; it lets you view metadata and make changes for selected files directly in the Lister or image viewer.
  • The Set Metadata dialog works like a typical file operation - it displays a dialog letting you choose the changes to make, and then when you click OK the changes will be applied to all selected files.
  • Programmatically, using the SetAttr META command, you can create buttons or hotkeys that automatically modify the metadata of selected files.
Displaying the metadata pane

To display the Metadata Pane in the Lister, select the Metadata Pane command from the Lister drop-down menu. The pane will update in real time as you select and deselect files in the file display.

In the standalone image viewer, select Edit Metadata from the Edit menu.

Displaying the Set Metadata dialog

To invoke the Set Metadata dialog, select the files you wish to edit, and choose the Edit Metadata command from the drop-down Properties menu.

Whichever method of editing you choose, the same display is used to both display the current metadata settings and to let you make changes.


Metadata categories

The list of metadata properties is divided into a number of categories. The categories and properties shown will change, depending on the type or types of files you have selected. Individual categories can be collapsed to hide their contents by clicking the small  button to the left of the category name.

  • Non-editable Properties: These are intrinsic properties of the files that are shown here for information only - they can't be edited. These are only shown in the Metadata Pane, not in the Set Metadata dialog.
  • Document Properties: Properties that apply to documents (author, copyright, subject, etc.). Some non-document file types support some of these properties too - for example, an image file can have authors and a subject just like a Word document.
  • Picture Properties: These are properties that apply to images. They are stored in EXIF format and so the image format must support the use of EXIF data (e.g. JPEG, PNG, TIFF).
  • Music Properties: These are properties that apply to music files like MP3 and WMA.
  • Video Properties: These are properties that apply to video files like AVI and WMV.
  • Music & Movie Properties: These are properties that apply to both music and video files. This category will only be shown if you have both music and video files selected at once.
  • Extended Properties: These are properties that are nominally available for all file types, like Comment, Rating and Tags. If the selected file formats support those properties natively (for example, JPEG files do) then the information will be stored in the file itself. If the selected file formats don't support these properties (like .txt files, for example) then Opus will attempt to store the information in an Alternate Data Stream attached to the file. Because only NTFS file systems support the ADS system, these properties won't be available for files stored on other file systems. If the Rating column is displayed in the file display, you can edit a file’s rating directly by clicking the stars (rather than going through the Metadata panel).
  • Standard Properties: These are properties that are applicable to all files - attributes and timestamps. You can modify these properties through the metadata system as an alternative to using the Change Attributes & Times dialog. The two timestamp properties have a Select operation field that lets you enter a time shift string that will perform relative adjustments to the current value of the date fields.
Editing metadata

To edit a value in the metadata display, simply click it to invoke the editing controls. The type of control used will depend on the field being edited. For example, for a string this will be a text edit field, but for a property with only certain options to choose from this might be a drop-down list.

To accept changes you have made to a field, simply click out of it (or on another field). You can also move between fields using the keyboard - press the Tab key to move to the next field, or Shift+Tab to move to the previous one. You can press the Enter key to accept changes you have made to a field, or press Esc to undo changes to the current field.

When a property has been modified it is indicated with a red triangle to the left of the field name.


Changing multiple files at once

You can edit the metadata of multiple files simultaneously simply by selecting multiple files at once (for the Metadata Pane), or by having multiple files selected when invoking the Edit Metadata command. Only properties that all selected files have in common can be edited. For example, if you select four image files at once, all the Document and Picture Properties fields will be shown as normal, but if you select four image files and one music file, only the few Document fields they have in common will be available.

When the metadata display first initialises it shows the current values of the various properties of the selected files. If multiple files are selected and they have different values for a given property, the indication multiple values is shown. If you edit a property when multiple files are selected, the new value will be applied to all files.

Working with the multi-value fields

Some fields (e.g. tags, authors) support multiple values. To use this, separate each value with a semi-colon. When multiple files are selected, you can use the + and - prefixes to add and remove specific values while leaving any other values alone.

You can turn on the Add to multi-value fields by default option on the Metadata / Editor Preferences page to add new values by default in this situation (without having to type a +).

Copying metadata with drag-and-drop

Using drag-and-drop, you can copy certain combinations of properties from one file to one or many target files. When you are editing the metadata for one or more files in the metadata pane or the separate dialog, you can drag-and-drop another file over the properties list. If you drag with the left button, a default set of properties will be copied; dragging with the right mouse button displays a popup menu that lets you choose which properties you want to copy from the dropped file.


Applying your changes

In the Set Metadata dialog, once you have finished editing the metadata, click the OK button to apply the changes to the selected files.

In the Metadata Pane, making one or more changes also enables the Apply and Cancel links in the pane's titlebar. Once you've finished editing the metadata for the selected files, click the Apply link to save the changes. You can also click the Cancel link to discard any changes and reset all properties to their original values.

The arrow buttons in the Metadata Pane title bar let you quickly move to the next or previous file. If you hold the Shift key down when you click these arrows, any changes you have made to the current file's metadata will be automatically saved.

You can turn on the Apply changes automatically option on the Metadata / Editor Preferences page to save having to click Apply to save your changes.

More: Document Properties
Picture Properties
Time Shifting
Music Properties
Video Properties
Extended Properties
Programmatic setting of Metadata