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Problems with -tagname^=

Started by herb, December 05, 2021, 05:36:40 AM

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I am working with version 12.36 on a Windows 10 system.

A (more or less) long time ago I worked with ExifTool feature: create a tag with empty content.
I am sure that the command -tagname^= worked properly.
(Sorry, but I do not remember which version I used for my tests in the past.)

Doing a retest of this feature with my application I have seen that this is broken.
This feature is still decribed in helpfile:
Quote"^=" is used to write an empty string instead of deleting the tag ...

E.g. for command
exiftool.exe -exif:software^= testimage.jpg
- I get as answer "1 file updated", but the tag is deleted (in case the tag does exist before).
- I get as answer (with option -v3): "Deleting IFD0:Software" and file keeps unchanged (in case of tag should be created)

Same happens e.g. for
- listtype tag: exiftool.exe -iptc:by-line^=
- lang-alt tags: exiftool.exe -xmp-dc:rights^= -xmp-dc:rights-de^=

I agree that this feature will be used (very) rarely, but it is decribed in help.
So please have a look at this problem.

Please allow also some additional questions:
- will this feature work only for tags with strings as values or
  will it work also for e.g. a date/time tag
- in case of a lang-alt: will it work for each "language depending sub-tag" or only for the x-default base-tag

Thankyou very much in advance
Best regards

Phil Harvey

Hi Herb,

This still works for me:

exiftool a.jpg -exif:software^= -v3
Writing IFD0:Software
======== a.jpg
Rewriting a.jpg...
  Editing tags in: APP0 APP1 IFD0 JFIF
  Creating tags in: APP1 IFD0
JPEG APP1 (96 bytes):
    0000: 45 78 69 66 00 00 4d 4d 00 2a 00 00 00 08 00 05 [Exif..MM.*......]
    0010: 01 1a 00 05 00 00 00 01 00 00 00 4a 01 1b 00 05 [...........J....]
    0020: 00 00 00 01 00 00 00 52 01 28 00 03 00 00 00 01 [.......R.(......]
    0030: 00 02 00 00 01 3b 00 02 00 00 00 03 6d 65 00 00 [.....;]
    0040: 02 13 00 03 00 00 00 01 00 01 00 00 00 00 00 00 [................]
    0050: 00 00 00 48 00 00 00 01 00 00 00 48 00 00 00 01 [...H.......H....]
  Rewriting IFD0
    + IFD0:Software = ''
JPEG DQT (130 bytes):
JPEG DHT (73 bytes):
    1 image files updated

List-type tags and lang-alt tags are written the same way as when you write a normal value.  The only difference with "^=" is that it accepts a zero-length string as a value.  It can be used for any tag where a zero-length string is a valid value.

- Phil
...where DIR is the name of a directory/folder containing the images.  On Mac/Linux, use single quotes (') instead of double quotes (") around arguments containing a dollar sign ($).


Hello Phil,

thanks for your quick reply and for your investigations.

Reading your answer I was astonished that it worked on your side. So I repeated my tests under various conditions.
At the end I found the solution:
In DOS-box of my Windows system I have to put strings with character ^  inside quotation marks ". Otherwise ^ will not be sent to Exiftool.

I apologize for making so much noise.
Best regards


The caret ^ is an escape key in Windows CMD (not sure about PowerShell).  So it either needs to be enclosed in quotes or doubled so it escapes itself.
* Did you read FAQ #3 and use the command listed there?
* Please use the Code button for exiftool code/output.
* Please include your OS, Exiftool version, and type of file you're processing (MP4, JPG, etc).

Phil Harvey

I will add a note in the documentation that this must be quoted in Windows.

- Phil
...where DIR is the name of a directory/folder containing the images.  On Mac/Linux, use single quotes (') instead of double quotes (") around arguments containing a dollar sign ($).