Customising your Photo Mechanic IPTC interface

This could very well be the single most “niche” blog post that I have ever written but I found it incredibly useful and so I thought others might too. If you aren’t a Photo Mechanic user already, bear with me because it might just convince you to have (another) look at what, for me, is an indispensable piece of software.

When you open up either a Stationery Pad (best for bulk captioning) or click on the IPTC Info tab (best for editing a single caption) the default views show dozens of fields. Most of those fields will have little or no use for basic image captioning and some of them will have very specific uses for very specific clients. Recently I’ve been doing a lot of image editing and I have found that different clients have very different needs and because of that I want the IPTC interface to look different for each client. The great news is that in Photo Mechanic you can customise the interfaces to a very high degree. You can choose to:

  • Hide or remove fields
  • Change the order in which they appear
  • Group them in any way you wish
  • Change the labels on the fields
  • Change the size of the boxes of some fields

Once you have set up your custom ‘look’ you can then save that look and swap between any number of looks depending on the work that you are doing. You can, at any time, swap back to the Photo Mechanic default and create new versions of the interface.

So where does all of this magic happen? If you go to Preferences/Accessibility/ you should see this screen:

You then have two different options:

  1. Customize IPTC Info which will let you change the interface brought up by the “i” icon on a contact sheet.
  2. Customize IPTC Stationery which will let you change the stationery pad or Cmd+I on a Mac or Ctrl+I on a PC.

I have found that having a stripped down IPTC Info option has made amending the captions for individual images much slicker. If I can only see the fields that I’m interested in then I don’t have to continually scroll around to find the right fields every time. By clicking on Customize IPTC Info you get this window:

Which allows you to edit names, drag the relevant fields into the order you want them to appear, enable and/or make fields visible and edit/remove group labels. Once you have it looking the way you want it all you have to do is click on the small lightning symbol in the bottom left corner and Save the set up with a name that you will recognise. As I said before, you can go back to the default simply by clicking on “Restore Defaults“. If you want to make further changes to a saved interface then you can overwrite the file easily.

Deleting saved interfaces is a lot tougher. I have no idea how to do it on a PC but on a Mac you have to go into your Hard Drive/Users/User/Library/Preferences/com.camerabits.PhotoMechanic/CustomizeIPTCInfoDialog and remove the relevant .snap file from there.

If you want to create/remove a custom interface for the Stationery Pad it’s a very similar process – the Customize interface looks slightly different but, in essence, they do a similar job.


  1. A perfectly timed post. I am looking at doing exactly this as I have found I am regularly using the same fields for some jobs but not others, so creating my own custom layout for those jobs would be extremely useful.
    Thank you Sir, I owe you a pint 🙂


  2. Hi Neil. I always enjoy your posts and viewing your photography. Even with all the fanciness in Lr and C1, Photo Mechanic is still a crucial part of my workflow as well. One tip: you can see the snapshot’s location on your system by option-clicking on it’s name in the list in Photo Mechanic’s dropdown. A finder window will open showing the contents of the parent folder. I’m on a mac but I have to assume a similar PC shortcut exists as well. Hope that helps! PS I injured my back as well about a decade ago but everything was good again several months later and I hope you’re getting back on your feet as well.


  3. Hi Neil,

    I work in Tech Support for Camera Bits – the company that makes Photo Mechanic – and thanks for such a great blog post. I wanted to let you and your readers know about a quick way to delete Snapshots, no matter if they are for the IPTC Stationery Pad or anywhere else you might have them saved.

    If you click on the Snapshot (lightning bolt) button and bring up the list of your saved Snapshots, just hold down the Option key on a Mac, or the Shift key on a PC, and click on the one you want to delete. A Finder/Explorer window will now open showing all of your saved Snapshots and the one you clicked will already be highlighted so you can quickly delete it. If you have any others you want to delete, you can do it from the same folder now that it’s open.

    We would love to share your post on our social media channels to help more people know about it, if you’re okay with that. We think a lot of our customers would be able to use the information to edit down the IPTC Stationery Pad to just the fields they use most often. Thanks, again!


  4. Is there a way to have IPTC only add a few things after all is done and ready to send?
    Example,..i want to send ftp to a few papers, a wire, and other clients, when I do that I want the FTP choice to remove say the source, and replace with the clients name. so instead of Michael Glenn / Glenn Images, it gets replaced with Michael Glenn / Glenn images for {client}


    1. You could use “Find and Replace” to swap Glenn Images to Glenn Images for xxx” as a batch. There might be a way to do it with variables too but I haven’t got an answer about exactly how yet.


  5. Great tip, thanks, unlikely to have found it otherwise for a while (I’m 4 hours into PM). Any suggestions how to customise similarly the drop-down form used in Edit-Search? It seems only to offer a very limited subset of the IPTC data.


    1. Thanks James. To be honest I don’t use the search options in Photo Mechanic enough to have spent any time researching ways to make it better. I cannot see any customisation options in it so I would suggest that you use the Camera Bits Forums to ask that one and suggest a new feature if it isn’t available as the team there are very good at responding to user needs.


  6. I’m a committed PM user and just about to do a mamouth captioning job on my archive. This post was really useful and timely for lifting the bonnet on PM. I may be being dumb…how do I load the snapshot so I only see my chosen fields. Does my choice have to be saved as [dot].snap file. When I go back to the interface it just loads the default. Is there another action in the IPTC/XMP Preference. Thanks for any help. Chris


    1. Having read your question again – is it just that you aren’t saving the reduced interface snapshot using the lightning symbol when you are in the accessibility preference window?


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