We’ve all done it… Daylight Savings Time changes, or you go on vacation abroad, and you forget to change the time stamp on the camera. It’s not a problem though, as Lightroom makes it very simple to correct the capture time. We’ll do this using Lightroom Classic first, then Lightroom (cloud-based) desktop.
Lightroom Classic – fix date and time
- First, make sure you’re in Grid view so that your changes apply to all selected photos.
- Find a photo for which you know the correct time and note that time down—we’ll call this the ‘known time’ photo for the moment.
- Select all of the photos that need the time stamp changed by the same amount.
- Click on the thumbnail of the ‘known-time’ photo that we identified in step 2, making that photo the active (most-selected) photo without deselecting the other photos.
- Go to Metadata menu > Edit Capture Time to show the Edit Capture Time dialog. The preview photo on the left should be your ‘known time’ photo.
- If you need to change the time by full hours, you can select Shift by set number of hours and enter the time difference, but otherwise, choose the first option, Adjust to a specified date and time, as this allows you to change by years, months, days, hours, minutes or seconds.
- If you’ve selected the Adjust to a specified date and time option, enter the correct time—the time you noted down earlier for the ‘known-time’ photo. You can select each number (hours, minutes, etc.) individually, and change the value either using the arrows or by typing the time of your choice.
- Click Change All to update all of the selected photos.
While not entirely obvious, when changing the time stamp on a series of photos, the active (most-selected) photo will be set to the time you enter in step 7, and the rest of the photos will be adjusted by the same incremental time difference. It won’t set them all to the same date and time, and that applies whether your active (most-selected) photo is the first in the series or not. For example, if you’ve selected 3 photos and you set the correct time for the middle one to 16:26, that photo will be the ‘known-time’ photo identified in step 2, and the others will be adjusted by the same time difference.
So you would have:
If you make a mistake, the original time stamp is stored in the catalog until the photo is removed, and you can return to that original time stamp by using Metadata menu > Revert Capture Time to Original.
The updated capture time is stored in the catalog, and if you write to the files using Ctrl-S (Windows) / Cmd-S (Mac), it will be written to the metadata of the file too. For proprietary raw files, most other metadata is written to an XMP sidecar file, however the updated capture time can be written back to the raw file itself.
Writing to the file shouldn’t cause any problems, as it’s written to a known portion of the metadata file header and doesn’t affect the raw image data itself. However it’s a point of concern for some people who feel that those undocumented raw files should never be touched in any way. For that reason, there’s a checkbox in Catalog Settings > Metadata tab which allows you to choose whether the updated time is stored only in the catalog, exported files, and XMP sidecar files, or whether it can be updated in your original raw files too.
Lightroom (cloud-based) desktop – fix date and time
This is currently only available on the desktop, not mobile, but it’s an easy fix:
- Select the photos in the Photo Grid or Square Grid so that your changes apply to all selected photos.
- Go to the Photo menu > Edit Date & Time or click the pencil icon next to the date field in the Info panel.
- In the Shift Date Range dialog, enter the correct date and time for the most recent photo in the selection and press Change. Other selected photos automatically shift by the same increment, rather than all being set to the same time.
For all the tips you need to get the best from using Lightroom, download Adobe Lightroom Classic – The Missing FAQ if you use Lightroom Classic or Adobe Lightroom – Edit Like a Pro for the cloud-based desktop, mobile and web version. Both books can be downloaded immediately after purchasing. If you’re already a current Premium Member, the updated eBooks are available for download in your Members Area.
Both books are in their 2nd Edition and also available as paperbacks.
Originally posted 13 December 2014, updated to include Lightroom (cloud-based) October 2020.