Monday, August 10, 2009

How to Get Your iPhone Photos to Sort Chronologically

Please note that I am using iTunes running on Windows Vista to sync photos onto my iPhone 3GS. Just a heads-up. Most notes will still apply to other setups.

I don't know about the rest of you, but I prefer all my photos to be sorted in chronological order. This is particularly true when it comes to my iPhone. I don't usually sit and watch a slide show or even flip through multiple pictures. What I often do, though, is think of a picture I want to show somebody and scan through my photo library (several hundred photos) until I find it. Having every picture sorted by the date it was taken makes this task much easier. I won't go into the intricacies of how iTunes decides to order your photos when putting them on the phone. I've done hours of experimenting, and the easiest thing to say is that it tends to sort of try to keep them in whatever order you sorted the folder the last time you looked at it in your Windows folder browser. I'm being intentionally vague here because that seems to be howApple decided to implement this feature. Whatever it really does (random number generation, contacting Steve Jobs behind the scenes for input, etc.) makes no sense at all, but it must be some strange interaction between iTunes and Vista.

Anyways, the solution I use is the following. Since I organize my photos with Google Picasa, I simply add all the pictures I want to put on my iPhone to an album for that purpose. Then, I select and export them to a single folder. During this process, I opt to shrink the photos down to a smaller size to conserve space. Regardless, these steps aren't that important. You just need to get all the photos you want on your phone into a single folder. Then, I rename the files with the date and time they were taken so that, when sorted by name (Windows default), they are in chronological order.

Of course, I don't sit there for hours renaming. There wouldn't be much point in blogging about that. I found a free program called Siren that can do it for me. Siren has many, many features and can be a little confusing to use at times, but I'll give you a simple command-line that you can execute. Let's assume that your photos are all .jpg and reside in a folder called "C:\Temp\iPhone Photos". Note that the folder should contain a COPY of your photos and NOT THE ORIGINALS just in case something goes wrong. You can run the following from the command line:

"C:\Program Files\Siren\Siren.exe" /D "C:\Temp\iPhone Photos" /N /E "%%Xdo.jpg" /S "*.jpg" /R /Q

It looks complicated, but all it does is execute Siren on the contents of the folder with a few key options enabled. Each .jpg file within will be renamed with the date and time (24-hour) the photo was taken. For example, a photo take August 2nd, 2009 at 8:41:46 AM would become "20090802_084146.jpg". Note that the date is in kind of a funky order (year, month, day) depending upon what you're used to. This is just so that Windows and iTunes/iPhone will sort it properly. That's all there is to it. You now have a folder of photos named in chronological order just waiting to be synchronized to your iPhone. You can add more photos later and run the program again.

PS - In the off chance that you somehow have two photos taken at the exact same second, I would just use a free program like Exifer to change the date/time metadata of one of the photos to be a second earlier or later.

Friday, January 23, 2009


Two posts on the same day! I just wanted to share some of my woodworking project photos available on Flickr ( For whatever reasons, I just never adjusted the security settings to open these to the public as all my photos are limited to friends and family viewing. I also have a couple of projects in the works. So, check back in if you're interested.

This is the home theater I built in my previous house a few years back.

Theater Final by cmaterick.


Finally on CodePlex

As demonstrated by my lack of blogging this past year, things have been pretty busy. I suppose that's just what happens when you've got a job, wife and kids, a house with things to fix, and a mild obsession with home automation and audio distribution that eats up all your free time.

This post is just to mention that, of all the little .NET programs I've written over the past few years, I finally have one that I think may really be useful to other folks. It's been my goal to get an open source project up on CodePlex, and now I have ( The name, MediaManipulator, isn't all that creative, I know. However, the tool is quite useful. It can do a couple different things including embedding your hi-resolution cover art from iTunes into your audio files (while alerting you of issues like missing music and artwork) and exporting playlists from iTunes while sorting the contents according to your specifications (artist, song name, etc.). Please check it out and let me know what you think. The code is tidy, but there's not a ton of commenting at this point. I have a few updates in mind for the next time I find a couple free hours.