File metadata - how to recognize, retrieve and edit it

File metadata is a little different from the usual metadata types. They have different meanings for different users. Metadata experts see it as just ordinary metadata. But many users use the term in a less general context.

This article aims to decipher these different meanings so that you can always tell exactly what is meant.

In the course of your work with metadata, you will repeatedly find that the term 'file metadata' is used in different contexts with different meanings. The goal is to familiarize yourself with these different meanings so that you can recognize and understand the differences and automatically know which file metadata is meant.

The above definition covers all types of file metadata and all use cases of the term. However, it is a basic description intended to be as general as possible. We will now dive a little deeper and look at when someone means file system metadata.

File system metadata

File system metadata is information about the system that hosts, accesses, or executes a file. This includes features such as the operating system, but also web-based solutions that have similar characteristics.

The data recorded via these systems relates to the digital file itself. This usually involves aspects such as changes and versions, when changes were made, information about creation (e.g., by which user and when), and use (e.g., how and when).

Sometimes the mention of a file system may refer to the way an entire process that manages specific metadata is structured, stored, and executed.

Understanding how these terms are used and how they function within a system will help users become more comfortable with conflicting definitions of file metadata.

Creating and opening a dedicated metadata file

There is no single procedure for creating and using a dedicated metadata file. However, there are a few simple procedures for doing so. The following quick guide will help you create an effective file.

First, determine the file type in which you want to store your information. When doing this, choose one that you are comfortable with, that you can easily access, and that you can easily share when collaborating with others. For example, you could choose Microsoft Excel, Google Sheets or other applications that can use csv files. Thanks to their efficient layout, they let you store large amounts of information clearly.

For those with limited time or experience, the easiest way to create your own metadata file is to use third-party software. Most of these programs are capable of taking the information you enter and transferring it to Excel or other applications.

If this makes more sense for your needs, consider using a third-party system.

In this context, the term 'metadata file' refers to a file whose sole purpose is to store metadata. This is different from file metadata in that it contains details about a file, such as file name, type, date, and so on.

To help you access and edit your file metadata, I'll introduce three systems that are best suited for this task.

1. metadata++

Metadata++ includes essential tools for accessing and editing file metadata. The software is a fully dedicated metadata system, so the focus of updates and upgrades is data-based. The popular hotkey feature makes it easy to search for specific important data.

2. TigoTago

TigoTago is a Windows program that lets users edit keywords and access metadata in digital files. Although it can be used to edit many music files, other media are also possible. The interface is clear and allows users to quickly access the items they want.

3. ExifTool

ExifTool is a powerful file metadata tool that also allows access and editing of less common file formats. The software works on Windows and Mac and is especially popular with tech-savvy users and photographers. The program is also suitable for users who want to add their own keywords to metadata files.

Final considerations

File metadata is an important concept to understand, especially since the term is used a lot. Make sure the person you are talking to understands it the same way you do. You also need to familiarize yourself with all types of metadata so that you can act accordingly.