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Taking dates from other files with the same name in a different folder hierarchy

There are a surprising number of scenarios where it is useful to be able to transfer file dates from one file to another.

Many applications that you may use to batch process picture, video or other files, are prone to losing file creation & modification dates and embedded content creation timestamps. This feature allows you to transfer those dates from the original to the processed files.

In order for this to work, you (naturally) need to keep a copy of the original files before processing and you need to be able to maintain the same file names for both the original and the processed files. If your processing application gives the processed files different names, you may need to use a tool such as A Better Finder Rename to massage the file names back into the original ones.

As a starting point for this action, you need to have two sets of files in different folders:

  • the “original” files from which you want to “lift” the dates

  • the “destination” / processed files to which you want to apply the lifted dates

Both sets of files need to have the exact same file names. If your originals are in a folder hierarchy, A Better Finder Attributes will make an effort to match identically named files according to their location in the original folder hierarchy, e.g. if you have two files that are both called 1.jpg, the first in ~/source/ and the second in ~/source/subfolder, the program will match them correctly with ~/destination/1.jpg and ~/destination/subfolder/1.jpg.

You can also use the Take Dates: From file of the same name but different file extensions to instead take the date from a file that has the exact same name but a different file extension. This can be useful when two or more files are connected in same way, e.g. so-called ‘side car’ files, JPEG and RAW images, thumbnails, etc.

When you are using this option, you can give a list of file extensions, e.g. .jpg, .tiff. In this case, all the files with the same name, say IMG_001 will be given the same date as IMG_001.jpg if it exists, or IMG_001.tiff if this exists but .jpg did not exist.

This option can be used both on the same file hierarchy, or a different folder hierarchy with the same structure.

Detailed instructions

  • select the Advanced Date Manipulation action in the Action: popup menu

  • select Date taken from a file of the same name in a different hierarchy from the Use: popup menu

  • click Browse… and locate the “root” folder where the source hierarchy starts (e.g. the folder in which your original files are located)

  • drag the destination folder (the folder that contains the files you want to change) into the file list on the right

  • make the appropriate selection in Lift: popup menu to select the kind of date that will be taken from the original

You can then decide what to do with the source dates using the other controls: overwriting file creation and file modification dates, various embedded dates for images and videos and perhaps even adding or subtracting time from the lifted dates before applying them.

The action previews the new dates in the file list on the right, so use this to double check your settings.

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