This data source imports photos, videos, and audio files, either individually or as a batch (folder). A selected folder must contain mostly images, videos, and audio files; unknown file formats are skipped, and subfolders are traversed.

Embedded metadata is extracted and saved along with each item. Metadata extraction is a best-effort process, as some vendors' metadata is proprietary and undocumented. Timelinize does not strip metadata from files (or alter any incoming data in general), but it may only extract metadata it can read into the DB.

Live photos (i.e. motion pictures, small videos associated with a photograph) are supported from:

  • Google Photos ("MVIMG" and "MP" JPEGs)
  • Apple (.HEIC + .MP4)
  • Samsung (JPEG)

Media timestamps

Timestamps for media files may come from 3 sources, none of which are always correct:

  • The embedded metadata like EXIF or XMP. This is the preferred timestamp source when available.
  • The filepath. Useful if media is organized into folders by date (e.g. 1950s/1959/3 March/...)
  • The file modification time ("modtime"). This seldom has any correlation to the contents of the file but may be better than nothing.

When importing with this data source, you can choose whether to accept external timestamps. This may be useful for a number of reasons:

  • The photos were processed with software that didn't preserve the embedded timestamps.
  • The files were generated from software or a service such as Google Photos that didn't embed a timestamp, but does set the modtime of the creation to the original photo when you download it.
  • The photos are organized into folders by date.

Scanned media

In general, it is near-impossible (without ML) to accurately detect scanned images versus photos captured directly with a digital camera. Scanners are not consistent with image metadata. Scanned images may depict scenes from decades earlier yet the embedded timestamp, if any, will often be the time of the scan. This is understandable, as the scanner has no idea when the photo was originally taken unless the user inputs it into the scanning software. If that's the case, and the proper date is embedded, great!

But that is rare. Usually, you'll have a folder of scanned images, hopefully organized by date somehow, such as "1972/September/scanned_image_34.jpg". Timelinize can extract the timestamp in this folder path, but if the scanner embedded the date of the scan into the image, Timelinize would typically prefer that, unable to know which is correct.

When you import media, you can specify a date range for a preferred timestamp. If you specify an end year of 1990, and an item has an embedded timestamp in 2021, but a folder timestamp in 1972, then it will use the 1972 timestamp. This can be very helpful for importing scans correctly if your photos are organized by date.