Photo Attorney

Nov 20, 2007

Warning: Photoshop 10.0.1 "Save for Web and Devices" Only Saves XMP Metadata

David Riecks, Chairman of the SAA Imaging Technology Standards Committee, has provided additional information on the new "Save for Web and Devices" in Photoshop. He has granted permission to distribute this message, provided the entire message is included.


As you have likely learned this week, there is a 'point' upgrade that has been released for Photoshop CS3, (version 10.0.1). Among other improvements, the "Save for Web and Devices" feature now places the option to "Include XMP" in the main Save for Web & Devices fly-out menu, where it is more likely to be seen by users. In Photoshop CS2 and CS3, these options to "Include Copyright" and "Include XMP" respectively, were buried several levels down in the flyout and could easily be missed.

For those of you that aren't aware, it is very important to include metadata in your images, especially those you put on the web. At minimum, you should include your contact information, but you may elect to include much more. However, don't let this new option lull you into a false sense of security, as there is a catch that could create problems for your clients and other end users.

With this new version of the "Save For Web And Devices" in Photoshop 10.0.1, if you select the option to "Include XMP" from the fly-out menu, all XMP metadata - including the creator copyright and contact info - is included in the optimized file. This is a step forward, however there are two caveats of which you should be aware if you intend to use this feature to optimize your Jpeg files instead of the standard "Save As" option. First, this option to "Include XMP" is not enabled by default. If you know it's there and select it, it does stay set (which is very nice). However, you do have to find it and set it. Second, as the name implies, this feature does embed XMP information in the file. It does not, however, embed the older legacy IPTC metadata.

Unfortunately, many of your clients may be using applications that aren't yet able to see XMP metadata. For example, Apple's Preview and Spotlight, older versions of Photoshop (users still using Photoshop 6 or earlier), and other file utilities and image databases may only able to read the legacy form of IPTC (sometimes referred to as IIM or IRB). If your client tries to read the metadata in Apple's Preview (or any other legacy IPTC only application) for any images that were saved using the "Save for Web" or "Save for Web And Devices", they would find the fields empty. This is because the metadata is written to XMP only, and nothing is written or replicated in the legacy IPTC fields.

Using the "Save As" method synchronizes metadata by writing the same values to the XMP as well as all the legacy IPTC fields that share the same fields. The "Save for Web and devices" is ONLY writing XMP. You can verify this by reading both of the files you saved with Jeffery Friedl's online metadata viewer and comparing. For the "Save for Web and Devices" file you will see no entries in the section labeled "IPTC" but you will for the one saved using "Save As." Both files will have entries in the XMP section. For those on the Mac, open your jpeg file in the Apple Preview application, and do a "Get Info" (Tools >> Get Info), and then click on the "details" tab and scroll down.

For those interested in learning more, the Fall 2007 ASMP Bulletin contains an article by Ethan Salwen that covers the basics of Metadata for photographers, (or the PDF version). There are a number of supplemental pages that are very useful reading as well.

By all means you should upgrade Photoshop, as the 10.0.1 upgrade fixes a number of problems with Photoshop printing and has various improvements in Bridge and Adobe Camera Raw, including support for more RAW file formats (and bug fixes as well).

Hope that helps.


David Riecks (that's "i" before "e", but the "e" is silent)
Chairman, SAA Imaging Technology Standards Committee
Version 3 of the Controlled Vocabulary Keyword Catalog - now compatible with Photo Mechanic

Yes, David, it does help. Thanks!