The 100 best digital picture frames on amazon
The 100 best digital picture frames on amazon
The 100 best digital picture frames on amazon
The 100 best digital picture frames on amazon

Check the Exif data of your images to pre­pare your pho­to frame for smart playlists


Did you ever wish you could eas­i­ly fil­ter the images on your dig­i­tal pic­ture frame based on the date?

Maybe you just came back from hol­i­day, and you want to see pho­tos from the last three weeks.

Or it's your kid's tenth birth­day, and you only want to show images that were tak­en on his birth­day from every year.

The date infor­ma­tion is con­tained as Exif data in your JPG files. In this arti­cle, I will show you a Python 3 script which checks your pho­to library on your dig­i­tal pic­ture frame for Exif date com­plete­ness so that you are ready to use smart fil­ters!

The dig­i­tal foot­print in your pho­tos

Do you remem­ber those red date stamps that old­er cam­eras left on your image back in the ana­log days? I always felt like it ruined the pho­to, but I guess some mar­ket­ing peo­ple deemed the infor­ma­tion as use­ful.

For­tu­nate­ly, in the dig­i­tal days, this infor­ma­tion can be record­ed with­out the need to have it appear on the image.

When­ev­er you take a dig­i­tal pho­to, a set of data is being writ­ten along­side the image infor­ma­tion. This includes the Exif data, which records not only the date but also the ser­i­al num­bers of your cam­era body and lens­es, aper­ture and shut­ter speed, or your white bal­ance.

Excerpt of Exif data of a dig­i­tal pho­to

You will also find GPS loca­tion and IPTC data which con­tains infor­ma­tion and the copy­right of an image and key­words added in appli­ca­tions like Adobe Light­room after the shot.

IPTC date with key­words, author and loca­tion data

If you like to take a lot of images, this infor­ma­tion can be handy to find a par­tic­u­lar pho­to quick­ly.

But it can also be used to cre­ate smart playlists that fil­ter your images accord­ing to spe­cif­ic cri­te­ria.

Smart Playlists

For a dig­i­tal pic­ture frame, the most use­ful selec­tion is prob­a­bly on the date, peo­ple, loca­tion, and oth­er freely defined key­words.

The Exif infor­ma­tion is some­times removed from the file dur­ing pho­to manip­u­la­tion. Sav­ing an image with­out this data over­head will cre­ate an only slight­ly small­er file. But the dif­fer­ence is less than 1%, so there is no point in remov­ing this infor­ma­tion for your dig­i­tal pic­ture frame.

An upcom­ing update to the Pi3D image view­er soft­ware (the one that cre­ates these beau­ti­ful image tran­si­tions) lat­er in 2019, will have the pos­si­bil­i­ty to fil­ter your images on spe­cif­ic dates or date ranges, so basi­cal­ly cre­ate a smart playlist.

This is so much bet­ter than sta­t­ic playlists. While I under­stand the util­i­ty of a fixed playlist for com­mer­cial appli­ca­tions, I don't believe it makes much sense to have them for home use.

A pic­ture frame is meant for casu­al image view­ing, so typ­i­cal­ly you don't stand in front of the frame and watch ten pho­tos in a row. Instead, it's the sur­prise of what is shown next and the tran­si­tion effect of slow cross­fad­ing, which cre­ates sus­pense and fun.

Also, man­u­al playlists require con­stant main­te­nance, which you prob­a­bly don't want to under­take.

In a dynam­ic, or smart playlist, on the oth­er hand, you define spe­cif­ic cri­te­ria, and when­ev­er you add images that match them, your playlist is dynam­i­cal­ly updat­ed.

But for a smart playlist to work, your files must have this infor­ma­tion. So, for a quick test of the Exif qual­i­ty of your pho­to library on your dig­i­tal pic­ture frame, I have writ­ten a script which checks each of your files in all direc­to­ries if they have a valid Exif date.

In my case, I found that I had export­ed about 250 pho­tos from Adobe Light­room with­out meta­da­ta, and a smart fil­ter would have ignored them.

So before I could use the new func­tion­al­i­ty in the Pi3D script, I need­ed to make a new export. The Exif date check script sup­plied me with the file names of those images that would not work with my smart fil­ters which made the process quick and effort­less.

If you are using Adobe Light­room to devel­op your pho­tos, make sure that your export set­tings are spec­i­fied for full meta­da­ta export.

Make sure you have "All Meta­da­ta" select­ed in Lightroom's export set­tings

The Python 3 script to check for a valid Exif date in your pho­to files

Installing and run­ning this script is straight­for­ward.

Cre­ate a new file called "" with the code below.

Enter your Pic­tures direc­to­ry in line 48. Pay atten­tion for cap­i­tal and small let­ters as this needs to be cor­rect.

  1. #!/usr/bin/env python3
  3. """
  4. Script for scanning JPG's with invalid DATE in Exif
  5. Prerequisite: pip3 install exifread
  6. """
  8. import os
  9. import exifread
  11. def ScanInvalidExifDate(dirName):
  13.     try:
  14.         #scan if current directory is accessible or not
  15.         #permission denied removal
  16.         CurrentDirectoryFiles = os.listdir(dirName)
  17.     except:
  18.         return
  20.     #iterate over results of current direcotry files
  21.     for entry in CurrentDirectoryFiles:
  23.         #create a full file path with dir + file name
  24.         filePath = os.path.join(dirName, entry)
  26.         #check if full file path is another directory then recursively operate
  27.         if os.path.isdir(filePath):
  28.             ScanInvalidExifDate(filePath)
  30.         #otherwise check if jpg and has valid exif date
  31.         else:
  32.             if (filePath.endswith(".jpg") or filePath.endswith(".jpeg")) and not (entry.startswith(".")) and not ".AppleDouble" in filePath:
  33.                 filePath= '/'.join(filePath.split('\\'))
  34.                 f = open(filePath, 'rb')
  35.                 tags = exifread.process_file(f)
  36.                 f.close()
  38.                 #check if DATE exist in EXIF if not then print that file path
  39.                 try:
  40.                     tags['EXIF DateTimeOriginal']
  41.                 except:
  42.                     print(filePath)
  43.     return
  45. if __name__=="__main__":
  46.     print("-------------------Invalid Valid Exif Date Finder-----------------------")
  47.     while True:
  48.         directoryStarting = "/home/pi/Pictures/your_photos/"
  49.         if os.path.exists(directoryStarting):
  50.             print("Directory Selected is :", directoryStarting)
  51.             print("---------Scanning-------------")
  52.             ScanInvalidExifDate(directoryStarting)
  53.             break
  54.         else:
  55.             print("Invalid Directory Entered")

Put this file into the home direc­to­ry of your Rasp­berry Pi.

Before we can run this script, we must first install the exif­read pack­age.

In Ter­mi­nal enter

pip3 install exifread

To run the script enter


The out­put will be print­ed in the Ter­mi­nal win­dow, and you can fix those files in Adobe Light­room or what­ev­er image manip­u­la­tion soft­ware you are using.

pi@pictureframe:~ $ python3
-------------------Invalid Valid EXIF DATE Finder-----------------------
Directory Selected is : /home/pi/Pictures/Photos/
/home/pi/Pictures/Photos/2013/2013 Scotland/13W_6753.jpg
/home/pi/Pictures/Photos/2008/2008 South Africa/2008 South Africa - 0888.jpg
/home/pi/Pictures/Photos/2008/2008 South Africa/2008 South Africa - 1577.jpg
/home/pi/Pictures/Photos/2008/2008 South Africa/2008 South Africa - 0981.jpg
/home/pi/Pictures/Photos/2008/2008 South Africa/2008 South Africa - 1632.jpg

More to come

This script lets you check the Exif com­plete­ness of your pho­to library. This is impor­tant if you ever want to use smart playlists based on dates.

How­ev­er, this is just the begin­ning of an upcom­ing Pi3D image view­er release.

The ambi­tion is to add fil­ter­ing on IPTC data, which will include loca­tions, peo­ple, and any key­words of your choos­ing.

And then one day, you may be able one day to voice con­trol smart playlists with Alexa or Google Home.

But tidy­ing up your image library is the first step, and this is where our lit­tle script can pro­vide use­ful sup­port.