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[Solved] iPhone seems to duplicate photos  



My wife does not use the Photos app, preferring to manually manage her extensive photo library.  Sadly, she doesn't stay on top of it that well, but here's her method:

When her iPhone 6S starts getting full, she transfers all her photos to her MacBook Pro, to a folder called "Temporary".  When she finds the time, she sets about filing said photos into appropriately-named folders.  In the last go-round, that meant over 8,000 photos.

As she's copying them, she tells me that many are duplicates, with different names.  We did a "Get Info" on one set, and found that all the data - with the exception of file size - was identical:  Created Date, Modified Date, all the camera info, etc.  

After thinking about this a while, it dawned on me that perhaps she had her phone set to keep both normal and HDR copies of each shot, but that setting is turned off (in Settings - Camera - Keep Normal Photo).

Does anyone know a situation where the iPhone keeps what are essentially duplicates of images?  I thought perhaps she's slow on the shutter button, and maybe sometimes invokes burst mode, but I just scanned through a few of the images currently on her phone and did not see any marked as such.  And if that were the case, I'd think the images would at least be named successively, but they're not.  In the example images, they're "IMG_2179.jpg" and "IMG_2253.jpg".

I'm stumped. 

(I've tried to upload a screen shot of the Get Info windows of the two files, but that didn't seem to work)

This topic was modified 1 year ago by bkmiller
3 Answers

OK, so I opened both images in Preview, and selected Tools - Show Inspector. In the Info tab (circled "I"), the data is interesting.

The General tab shows identical information, with one exception.  For what I'll call the earlier image (IMG_2179), the Orientation field shows Orientation 6 (Rotated 90 deg CCW).  the second image (IMG_2253) lists Orientation 1 (Normal).

The EXIF tab lists numerous data points, but are identical in each image.

The TIFF tab reveals the answer.  IMG_2179, under Software, shows 10.1.1.  IMG_2253 shows Photoshop Express  The second image was edited in some subtle way and resaved as a new image.  Rotating the image obviously must have been part of that edit, even though it's not apparent comparing the two.

The second image also has an additional tab, JFIF, which the first image does not have.

Lesson learned:  editing a photo in iOS using a third party app (at least PS Express) creates a new image, preserving the original.  And, thinking it through to the next step, it stands to reason that Created and Modified dates, within the same image, could remain the same, but one would think that the edited version would acquire its own Created/Modified data.

Excellent sleuthing, @bkmiller. Thanks for sharing what you found. Super-helpful!


Hmm.  I've tried to duplicate the issue on my own phone (a 6S), and I've found two images (so far) that may match this pattern.  In this case, it is one that the only apparent difference is that it's been lightened (probably using the iOS app PS Express).  For both images, the image data shows a Date Created of "February 11, 2018 at 12:16 PM", as well as a Date Modified of "February 11, 2018 at 12:16 PM".  The file names are not consecutive:  IMG_0361.jpg and IMG_0370.jpg.  

If editing a photo, in whatever app is used, doesn't update the "Date Modified", that seems odd.


Interesting, @bkmiller. I haven't manually managed Photos like this (for myself or for clients) in quite some time, so I'm not sure what the magic answer is. I agree that it would be odd that the modification date doesn't get updated, but... I also know that Apple doesn't really expect photos to be managed in this way. 

Does the metadata on these duplicates give any additional indication? You can see a lot of that if you open the image in on your Mac, perhaps shedding additional light on this.