Ingestamatic Help

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About Ingestamatic

Ingestamatic gets images from cards, cameras, and other devices into your desktop or notebook Mac, a job called ingestion. Ingestamatic does much more than just copy the image files. It can:

Ingestamatic's flexibility for renaming, arranging into folders, and composing metadata is extraordinary. You'll find that you can easily set it up to do things exactly the way you want. Fortunately, Ingestamatic is ready-to-go when you first install it—you don't even have to open the setup panel until you're ready.

Ingestamatic's design is the product of years of experience with ImageIngester, an industrial-strength ingester that's used by professionals around the world. But Ingestamatic isn't an update to ImageIngester, or even a successor. It takes a very different approach: simpler and more enjoyable to use, more interactive, faster, yet just as powerful when it comes to the most important ingestion tasks.

Technical Support

For technical support, use the Support menu item on the Help menu, or send email to Be sure to include the versions of Ingestamatic and MacOS that you're using, and a complete description of the problem or question.

If you got an error message on the screen or in the log at the bottom-right of the main window, include the exact text. In the case of the log, copy the entire log and paste it into the email message. If you can't copy the text, try to get a screenshot.

Technical support is not available by phone.

Quick Start

When it starts, Ingestamatic shows you a list of cards and/or devices:


Double-click on an icon to open it, or click the Other button to choose any disk folder. You'll then see the images that can be ingested:


The info in the lower right corner shows the default settings:

Ingestamatic Version 1.30
Primary Root Folder: ~/Pictures/Ingestamatic
Want Backup: No
Folder Arrangement: 
Filename Arrangement: {@FileNameOriginal}
Want DNG Conversion: No
Post-Processing App: /Applications/
Want Geotagging: No
Included Extensions: [all]

This means that the ingested images will be placed into the subfolder "Ingestamatic" in your Pictures folder, the files will retain their original filenames (the "Filename Arrangement: {@FileNameOriginal}" stuff), and the Preview app will be opened when ingested is complete. No geotagging will be done. All file types are ingestable. You can change all of this, and more, but this is enough for now.

That's all you need to get started.

About Metadata: EXIF and IPTC

There are two principal metadata standards central to Ingestamatic: EXIF ("exchangeable image file format") and IPTC ("International Press Telecommunications Council"). Generally, EXIF metadata is inserted into an image by the camera or device that produced it; it includes basic shooting information like FNumber and ExposureTime, and usually lots more that's not so basic. Generally, IPTC metadata is supplied by you, after the exposure; it includes the caption, keywords, your name and address, copyright information, and much more.

Adding IPTC metadata to ingested images is one of the main functions of Ingestamatic; EXIF metadata can be viewed, but not changed, although I have another app, ExifChanger, that can do just that (search for it on the Mac App Store).

Ingestamatic always references IPTC fields with the prefix "IPTC.", as in "IPTC.Keywords" and "IPTC.Caption/Abstract". EXIF fields mostly have the prefixes "Exif.", "ExifAux.", "TIFF.", "GPS.", "MakerCanon.", and "MakerNikon.", but a few, such as PiixelWidth and PixelHeight, don't use a prefix.

Metadata Preview Panel

To see what metadata will be associated with ingested images without actually ingesting, click the Preview button on the main window. Here's what you'll see:


You can see that metadata for several fields was inserted automatically, without your having to do anything at all. If you don't like what's there, you can easily change it, as explained below.

If an image was geotagged, a button to its right allows you to see its location on a Google map in a web browser:


Image Viewer

Choose Image Viewer on the Tools menu to bring up the Image Viewer, which allows you to see large preview of images:


If you like, you can check or uncheck images for ingestion in the Image Viewer, although it's usually more convenient to do that on the main window. The Image Viewer window can be resized to make the preview image larger.

Entering and Changing Metadata

To enter or change metadata for one or more images, select them and just type into the table at the right of the main window, like this:


Metadata changes you make affect only selected images. You can enter the same data for all images by selecting them all first, or affect only one image by selecting only it, or any other combination you like. Nothing is effective until you ingest, although you can preview your changes by clicking the Preview button.

Important: Make sure you've entered metadata for all images (or all the ones you want to) before you ingest them. Use the Preview panel for a quick check that you haven't left anything out.

Controlling What Gets Ingested

Only images with a green plus in their upper-left corner are ingested. You can turn off ingestion for an image by clicking the plus sign, changing it to a red minus; actually, that affects all selected images. Or, you can check all or none of the images with the buttons at the upper-left of the main window.

How Metadata is Saved

Ingestamatic writes metadata directly into ingested JPEG files, but for all other file types, including raws, it writes a sidecar file whose name is the same as the image, but with an "xmp" extension. Adobe apps, like Lightroom, Bridge, and Photoshop pick up metadata from sidecars, as does Apple's Aperture.

If you convert to DNG (see below), the metadata in the sidecar is embedded into the DNG by Adobe's DNG Converter, and the sidecar XMP file is removed.

Note that iPhoto will read the caption and keywords from JPEGs, but no other metadata, so JPEGs ingested with Ingestamatic work OK with iPhoto, at least to that extent. But ingested raws imported into iPhoto won't have any metadata at all, and this goes for raws converted to DNG, too.

About Macros

Much of Ingestamatic's automation comes from its powerful macro facility. You've already seen this in the Default settings that you get when you first install Ingestamatic. For example, the metadata:

©{@DateNow:YYYY} {@UserName}. All rights reserved.
Is replaced during ingestion (in my case) by
©2011 Marc Rochkind. All rights reserved.
What actually happened is that the macro "{@DateNow:YYYY}" was replaced by the year, and the macro {@UserName} was replaced by my name, which I set when I first initialized my Mac. (It's changeable from the Mac System Preferences.)

Here are the macro rules:

Most macros refer to EXIF metadata (see the section "About Metadata: EXIF and IPTC", above); others refer to special data items like "{@FileNameOriginal}", and a few are really fancy, like the Lookup macros (see below).

No macros refer to IPTC metadata fields. If you re-ingest a file that already has IPTC metadata, you can't refer to that data with Ingestamatic. (Many years of experience with another ingestion app, ImageIngester, has convinced me that allowing this becomes hopelessly confusing for most users.)

The way to think of the relationship between IPTC and EXIF fields is this: You enter IPTC metadata manually or via macros, most of which refer to EXIF metadata, and EXIF metadata comes from the image as shot.

While you can certainly type a macro directly into the metadata fields on the main window, that's not usually what you do. Instead, you enter them into the Settings panel.

Settings Panel

You can change any of the default settings by clicking the Set button, which brings up the Settings panel:


To make it easy to enter macros, the Folder Arrangement and Filename Arrangement fields have a Macro menu, which you can use to enter macro tokens:


If a macro takes a parameter, like "{@Index:4}" and you want to edit the parameter, insert the macro as a token with the menu and then double-click on the token to change it to plain text that you can edit.

The following sections discuss each part of the Settings panel in turn.

Primary Root Folder

Set this to the top-level folder for all ingested images. If you also have a Folder Arrangement, that hierarchy of subfolders will be under the Primary Root Folder.

The reason for separating the two—Primary Root Folder and Folder Arrangement—is that the Folder Arrangement will also be reproduced under the Backup Root Folder, if you have one, so that the Primary and Backup copies have the same folder structure. Also, you can't use macros in the Primary Root Folder or Backup Root Folder paths.

Backup Root Folder

Ingested images, including the entire folder arrangement hierarchy, can be copied to another top-level folder for backup. Check Backup Root Folder and choose a backup folder if you want this backup.

If you're doing DNG Conversion (see below), a Backup Root Folder is required, because Ingestamatic needs someplace to put the pre-conversion raws so DNG Conversion can convert them. Note that the backups are always original raws, whereas Primary Root Folder contains DNGs. Ingestamatic can't backup DNGs that it produces by running Adobe DNG Converter, nor will it discard the original raws that were ingested to the backup.

It's best to put the Backup Root Folder on a different drive from the Primary Root Folder.

Folder Arrangement

Use this field to specify how you want ingested images distributed into folders. You can type a fixed path, such as "Events/Weddings/Jones2011", or, better, build up the path with a combination of fixed folder names and macros. Useful macros are the date macros, lookup macros, and the shoot description ("{@Shoot}"). It's unusual to use camera metadata, such as FNumber or ExposureTime, but it's allowed.

Filename Arrangement

Use this field to specify how you want ingested image files named. The default is "{@FileNameOriginal}", which is the original name on the card or device. Often you'll want to rename files, however, to incorporate the date, the shoot description, and other variable data.

I use "MJR_{@DateImage:YYYY-MM-DD}_{@FileNumberOriginal}", which gives me my initials, the date, and the last four characters of the original file name. So, if my camera recorded file "_MJR5641.NEF" on 13-Sept-2011, the ingested file name would be "MJR_2011-09-13_5641.NEF".

If there's already a file with the generated name in the folder, Ingestamatic will add a sequence number to the name to make it unique.

Shoot and IPTC Metadata

Use the table to enter any metadata you want to apply to all ingested images, unless you override anything by typing directly into the fields in the main window. This is where you'll put standard data that rarely changes, such as your personal data (name, address, etc.), copyright data, and other items. For example:


Note that the Preset name at the bottom has been changed to "Untitled (edited)". When you click OK, you'll be prompted to enter a name for this new preset, and it will be saved. You can recall it anytime you like from the Settings panel or the main window.

You can also type macros, but it's easier to click on the small pencil icon at the right of each row to bring up the macro editor, so you can use the Macro menu to insert tokens.

Convert to DNG

Ingestamatic can automatically invoke Adobe's DNG Converter to convert raw images (but not JPEGs, movies, or other non-raw files) to DNG. An advantage is that metadata you set gets embedded into the DNG, instead of residing in a separate sidecar file. To enable DNG conversion:

  1. Download the free DNG Converter from Adobe's web site, at
  2. Install DNG Converter.
  3. From the Ingestamatic Settings panel, check Convert to DNG and click the Choose Converter button to choose the converter you installed. Its name will be something like "Adobe DNG", although the version number changes from time-to-time.
  4. If you get a new camera in the future, you'll probably have to reinstall a newer DNG Converter and point Ingestamatic to the new one. Otherwise, you might get errors when you try to convert.

You can control what raw file types are passed onto DNG Converter from the Ingestamatic Preferences panel. Initially it looks like this:


Post-Processing App

Ingestamatic can launch another app after ingestion is complete if you choose one by clicking the Choose App button. Choose Cancel from the file-selection dialog if you don't want a post-processing app to be launched.

Ingestamatic will pass the first folder ingested into to the app, but it can't control what, if anything, the app does with that information. Many apps, like Lightroom, will open their import dialogs to that folder. However, if ingested images go into several folders, only one of them will be passed to the post-processing app. You'll have to open the others manually from within that app.

Apply to Extensions

If you type any extensions here, the settings apply only to files with those extensions, and other files can't be ingested at all. Files that can't be ingested are shown on the main window with a blue marker. For example, if you apply the settings only to NEF files, like this:


All non-NEF files become uncheckable—not ingested—when those settings are selected:


In this way you can easily keep one preset for videos, say, and another for still photos. Or, as shown in the example, arrange for only NEFs to be ingested.

Files marked as uncheckable can still be selected, viewed, and even have metadata entered for them. They just can't be ingested until the settings are changed.


This turns on automatic geotagging; it has no effect on manual geotagging. See the section below for more about geotagging.


As shown above, when you make any changes in the Settings panel you're prompted to save the results as a new preset, which you can recall from the Settings panel or main window.

If you're changing the settings for an existing preset (other than Default), the changes are saved automatically when you click the Settings panel's OK button.

You can also update the preset, save it as a new preset, or delete it with the commands on the Preset menu in the Settings panel (not on the main window).


Macros are used in Folder and File Arrangements and in IPTC metadata fields. As described above, you enter them in the Settings panel.

To see all the macros with the values they have for a particular image, select that image and click the "i" symbol at the lower-left of the image.

Image-Data Macros

Most macros have as their replacement text data from the image (e.g., {@Exif.FNumber}, {@GPS.Latitude}, {@MakerNikon.ShutterCount}, {@PixelWidth}, {@TIFF.Model}).

Other macros are more complex, and are described in the following sections.

Date Macros

The two date macros are {@DateImage}, which uses the date/time of the image, and {@DateNow}, which uses the current date/time.

{@DateImage} goes to some lengths to find a date/time. In order, it looks for: EXIF DateTimeOriginal, EXIF DateTimeDigitized, TIFF DateTime, file modification date/time, and current date/time. The first one found is used. Thus, for most images, the date/time from the EXIF data will be used, which is what the camera recorded.

Either macro without a parameter formats the date/time as YYYY-MM-DD hh:mm:ss. There is no time zone, because EXIF and TIFF date/times have no time zone.

You can follow the name of either date macro with text that contains markers for the various components of dates and times:

YYYY4-digit year2011
YY2-digit year11
MM2-digit month09
MMMmonth abbreviationSep
MMMMmonth nameSeptember
MMMMM1- or 2-digit month9
DD2-digit day of month02
DDDDD1- or 2-digit day of month2
WWWday-of-week abbreviationTue
WWWWday-of-week nameTuesday
hh2-digit hour01
mm2-digit minute07
ss2-digit second08

The View Macros panel shows some examples:

DateImage = 2011:09:13 08:47:59
DateImage:YYYY-MM-DD = 2011-09-13
DateImage:YYYY/YYYY-MM-DD = 2011/2011-09-13
DateImage:YYYY/MM-DD = 2011/09-13
DateImage:YYYY/MM = 2011/09
DateImage:MM = 09
DateImage:DD = 13
DateImage:YYYY-MM-DD hh:mm:ss = 2011-09-13 08:47:59
DateImage:YYYYMMDD = 20110913
DateImage:MMMM = September
DateImage:MMM = Sep
DateImage:WWWW = Tuesday
DateImage:WWW = Tue
DateNow = 2011:10:26 12:20:27
DateNow:Day DDDDD of Month MMMMM = Day 26 of Month 10
DateNow:YYYY-MM-DD hh:mm:ss = 2011-10-26 12:20:27
DateNow:WWWW, MMMM DDDDD, YYYY = Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Note in the third example that, if the macro appears in a Folder Arrangement, the slash becomes a folder delimiter. These examples also appear on the Macro menu in the Settings panel.

Filename Macros

Several macros get at parts of file names:

FileNameOriginaloriginal file name, without extension_MJR5641
FileNumberOriginal2nd 4 characters of original file name5641
FileNameNewingested file name (depends on Filename Arrangement), without extensionMJR_2011-09-13_5641
FileExtensionOriginaloriginal file name extensionNEF

Miscellaneous Macros

Several additional macros are:

Shootshoot descriptionJones Wedding
Indexindex of image, starting from 1 for each ingestion; parameter is number of digits0023
UserNameuser's full nameJohn Smith

Lookup Macros

Lookup macros look up data for an EXIF macro in a table that you set up and are then replaced by the value in the table. For example, if you have cameras with serial numbers 2103791, 2104055, and H45511339, you can arrange for the macro {@Lookup.ExifAux.SerialNumber} to be replaced by "D700-1", "D700-2", and "E-P1", respectively. Or, you might arrange for the macro {@Lookup.FileExtensionOriginal} to be replaced by "raw" if the extension is NEF, ORF, or CR2, by "movie" if the extension is AVI or MOV, and "JPEG" if it's JPG.

These lookup macros are available:


To setup the lookup tables, click the Lookups button at the bottom of the Settings panel to bring up the Lookups panel:


You use the + and to add or delete rows. Choose one of the five tables to edit with the drop-down menu at the top.

The lookup tables are common to all presets.

To make it easier to deal with textual data, you can use the wildcard character * at the start or end of a Key in a lookup table. For example, in the {@Lookup.TIFF.Make} table, instead of using a key like "NIKON CORPORATION", you can just use "nikon*".


Automatic geotagging allows you to insert GPS coordinates into ingested images based on a track created with a GPS device. Manual geotagging, available starting with Version 1.2, allows you to set the location by choosing a position on a map.

The usual workflow for automatic geotagging is:

  1. Set the camera's time as accurately as you can, and remember what time zone you set it to and whether daylight savings time (summer time) was in effect.
  2. Record a track on a GPS device while you're photographing.
  3. Load the track into Ingestamatic.
  4. Check the Geotag checkbox on the Settings panel.
  5. Set the time zone.
  6. If needed, adjust the time.
  7. Click Preview to verify that geotagging is occurring correctly.
  8. Ingest to mark images with their coordinates.

Loading Tracks

To load a recorded track into Ingestamatic, click the Load Track button on the main window, orf click the + button on the Track Manager panel, which you can get to by choosing GPS Track Manager on the Tools menu.

You can load a track from a GPX file that you've previously stored on your hard drive, or directly from a Garmin or Magellan device. If loading directly from a device doesn't work, follow the instructions that came with the device to store a GPX track on your hard drive, and then load that into Ingestamatic. To help, you might find it useful to use the free utility GPSBabel, available from

Ingestamatic remembers loaded tracks and will automatically find the right track when it's needed for geotagging. It's not necessary to reload tracks when you relaunch Ingestamatic. You can remove a track by clicking the button; the track file itself is not deleted.

When you click on a track in the Track Manager panel, Ingestamatic attempts to show it on a map:


Some GPX files are incompatible with the mapping software used and won't show their tracks, but they will still work for geotagging. Tracks generally do not show on Snow Leopard (MacOS 10.6), although the map does. Tracks show OK on Lion (10.7).

Setting the Time Zone

As cameras don't record a time zone with their EXIF date/times, you have to tell Ingestamatic the time zone that the camera's clock was set to. This may or may not be the same as the time zone where the photo was taken; what counts is how the camera's clock was set. Click the Time Zone button on the main window to set the time zone for selected images, or set a default time zone from the Settings panel.

The Time Zone setting panel looks like this:


Time zones are not stored with ingested images, as there is no IPTC or EXIF field in which to store them.

If you don't set a time zone, the local time zone will be assumed when geotagging.

If you're taking a trip across several time zones, it's easiest to leave your cameras' clocks set to your home time zone or to GMT and leave them that way. Otherwise, keeping track of which images were shot in which time zones is too error prone.

Adjusting the Time

Ingestamatic compares the EXIF time of an image (adjusted to time zone) to the times recorded in a track to find track points just before and after the image time, and then interpolates to find the location. If the camera's clock is set wrong, the wrong points, or no points, may be found. To make the correction, click the Time Adj button on the main window. The time adjustment you set is applied to all images geotagged, regardless of which images are selected. (Unlike with time zone, which can be set differently for different images.)

The time adjustment isn't remembered from launch to launch; it starts at zero each time you relaunch Ingestamatic. It doesn't affect the times stored in EXIF and TIFF data in the image itself—it's only used for geotagging.

If you know the adjustment, you can just enter it in seconds in the Time Adjustment panel. But it's easier to take a photo of an accurate clock and view that photo in the Time Adjustment panel, and then correct the time to match the time on the clock, in which case the adjustment is calculated automatically:


Unless you're moving very fast when you photograph, you usually don't have to adjust the time unless the clock is off by more than a minute or so. It's best to set the camera's clock as accurately as you can before you start the shoot.

Geotagging Details

Once the appropriate tracks have been loaded, the time zone has been chosen, and any necessary time adjustment have been set, geotagging will occur automatically when you click Preview or Ingest. When ingesting, coordinates are stored in the XMP sidecar or written directly into JPEGs by Ingestamatic. (Unlike with ImageIngester, ExifTool isn't used to embed GPS coordinates into images.)

It's a good idea to check the geotagging in the Preview panel before you ingest. Click the arrow button next to an image to see its location on a Google map.

If you're re-ingesting images that are already geotagged, Ingestamatic will not re-geotag them.

Manual Geotagging

Manual geotagging doesn't use tracks, and the time zone and time adjustment are irrelevant, since image times aren't used.

First select the images to be geotagged, and then choose the Geotag Manually from the Tools menu. You'll see this panel:


Position the map until the location you want is under the crosshairs. Then press the Tag button and the coordinates will tag the selected images. You'll see those coordinates in the Metadata Preview panel, and they'll be written to ingested JPEGs or to XMP sidecars for non-JPEGs.

It's often easier to work from a place name, rather than finding a place with the map. The easiest way to do that is with Google Earth, a free app that you can download and install. Here's how to use Google Earth in conjunction with ExifChanger:

  1. Set Google Earth's Preferences to Decimal Degrees:


  2. Enter the place name in Google Earth's search box, or position the map any other way you like.
  3. Choose Copy View Location on Google Earth's Edit menu.
  4. Back in Ingestamatic, click the Paste Location button on the Manual Geotagging panel. That will position the map to match Google Earth's location.
  5. Click the Tag button.

Ingestion Log

A record of all ingestions is permanently stored in an ingestion log, which you can view by choosing Ingestion Log on the Tools menu. Each month starts a new file. You select a file (month) to see its contents:


If you want to delete old log files or copy them, click Show in Finder to open a Finder window to the folder that contains them.