Some tags and note data has gone missing from Tropy project

Computer: MacBook M1 (2021) macOS 13.3.1

I have set up Tropy on my MacBook and backed up in cloud storage.

I have created a Tropy project with 640 images. This is a research project about a group of children in care in the early 1960s. Over the past several days I have added a caption to every single image (placed in the ‘Notes’ section); tagged every image with names and a variety of themes; and also included (where known) a range of attribution data. I should stress that I’m not an academic at all - this is research related to personal experiences. I believe I set this up as a portable project - in order to share the project with a colleague. I have had so much in my head working with this that I really don’t recall exactly how I went about it - only that it ‘seemed to work’. It’s an age thing.

Today Ive been amalgamating images of the verso of prints (where available) with related photos.

Tonight I discovered that one person’s name (in the tag list) was missing. I then checked through all the name tags and found that at least 14 names have “disappeared” (they are simply not in the list of tags). All the photos are definitely still there.

Further checking revealed that “some” theme tags are also missing. Because I added these tags gradually, as I was processing each image, I did not create a separate list as a discrete record - so the only way I will be able to check these is to simply go through every single image and “start again”.

To add insult to injury, I’ve now discovered that only the first 62 images still have their captions recorded. The remaining 538 photos have no data in the notes section at all.

I’m at a complete loss to explain what might have happened. There is so much material missing that I cannot see how I could have accidentally deleted it without being aware of doing something ‘different’(?). The only thing I have done today is to update my macOS from 13.2.1 to 13.3.1 This resulted in the laptop shutting down and rebooting but was done ‘under control’. If this was to cause a problem, I don’t understand why it would have been so ‘selective’ about the material that disappeared.

If anyone can give me even the slightest guidance or useful opinion I will be massively grateful. I’m in my 70s and have only a (genuinely) modest capability with my computer. This has set me back a lot in terms of time, which is distressing. If there is something obvious to others that I don’t know, I will be delighted to be enlightened.

At this stage I’m at a complete loss.

Thanks for reaching out!

Initially, what you describe sounds to me like an issue related to file syncing. Since you are working on the file using a single computer it’s unlikely that this is the case, but let me still explain the scenario:

When you sync a file to cloud storage and access it from multiple devices, it’s possible for changes to get lost if you work on an outdated version by accident. For example, let’s say you add a tag A to your project on one device and sync your changes back to the cloud. Later, on another device, you resume working on the project but forget to sync the file first (e.g., because you’re not connected to the Internet). That is, your tag A has not been added in this version of the project file, but you resume your work, perhaps adding tags B and C. Still later, you sync the file to your cloud storage: at this moment the cloud storage service would detect a conflict – two divergent versions of your project file one with the tag A and the other with tags B and C. Most cloud storage providers would typically keep the later version. You keep working on this version and sometime later notice that tag A has disappeared.

I’m not suggesting that this is what happened in your case. In fact, since you’re using only a single computer to work on the file it’s extremely unlikely to happen this way. But something similar could have happened, for example if you made a copy of the project file (perhaps while moving it around or renaming it) and somehow opened different versions of the file.

If you open Tropy, but close your project file by selecting File -> Close Project from the menu there should be a list of all project files that were opened recently. Your project should be in this list only once – if there is more than one entry there it’s possible that there was some kind of mix up with multiple copies of the same project.

Other than that I can think of no way how tags or other data would just disappear. Tropy’s project file uses SQLite, an extremely robust embedded database. File corruptions, because of disk I/O errors or similar are possible but happen very rarely. What’s more, Tropy checks for file corruption frequently and should show a warning in such a case.

Tropy also saves any changes you make to the file almost instantly so an interruption, like the system upgrade, is unlikely to cause any issues like this.

If this is not in some way caused by file syncing or by opening different copies of the same project file by accident, I can only offer that we take a look at the project file if you’d like to share it with us. Data that was saved to the file at one point and later deleted typically leaves some traces in the database, so given the file we might be able to determine whether the data was added and then deleted (perhaps even recovered) or if it looks like the missing data was never added in the first place – which would suggest that different copies of the project file were in play at some point.

Thanks for getting back to me.

I have Tropy and its related image set in a folder on an external hard drive linked to my MacBook. The ext HD sits inside a folder - which then synchronises to cloud storage. I’m new to and am still learning how to use it. This storage allows me to share access to files with a colleague - but I’ve not yet worked out how to do that. The storage also includes holding version histories for everything that is stored. Last night I did download and look at some earlier versions of Tropy - but it all appeared to have the same material missing. I may well have misread what was there - it’s all a bit overwhelming!

I would be really happy to share the Tropy project file with you - how do I go about this, please?

Well, I have some good news (not that I really understand how it came about) - I have somehow “recovered” the Tropy file, along with all the tags and other data intact. After walking away from the problem for a couple of days I simply copied the file and placed it in a new location, along with the same set of images. Lo and behold, everything was in place again! I’m a very happy person!

A couple of questions:
Tropy displays two metadata templates (in my set-up): Tropy Generic and Tropy Photo. I would like to remove the Tropy Photo template from the display but I don’t know how to do this. When I export images as pdf, each page includes the Tropy Photo template - which I don’t need. How do I remove this?
Second: is it (or will it be) possible to make the data searchable by third parties - without them being able to modify the records - i.e. share the material so that they can just search by tag or other data to just view specific images?

One final point to mention - I am really delighted to have discovered Tropy. I used to use Apple’s Aperture quite happily but, after Apple stopped supporting it, I searched for years to find an effective alternative. I purchased various apps and found a few free ones too - but nothing ever managed our images the way I wanted. Google searching was unproductive. It was only late last year, when I added the word “research” to my Google hunt, that I actually came across Tropy. In spite of Google trying to force me to look for “trophy” (it still does!) I discovered this excellent app. Thank you for providing such a useful tool.

Thanks for taking the time to get back to me and for offering your support.

I’m glad to hear you recovered the file! It sounds as though the sync folder may have something to do with this – the fact that it does record a history of different versions of the file sounds a bit like it might be related.

Tropy allows you to add metadata at different levels of granularity (item, photo, selection). Each item can have multiple photos; each photo can have multiple selection. But it’s also perfectly fine to have only exactly one photo per item and think of them as a single ‘thing’. However, it’s currently not possible to hide the photo-level metadata completely. I don’t think that we’d want to add this as an option, but if it is a nuisance to you we could help you to add a custom style override to just hide the photo metadata visually.

You can share your project with others, e.g. by sending a copy of the project file; if they make changes to that file it will only change their copy. You can also make a the project file read-only and Tropy will then open it in read-only mode (this is not a true protection however, if the file-permissions are changed to writable Tropy will open the file normally again).

Thanks for your valuable response. I’m still having a struggle regaining control of using Tropy - it’s not the fault of the app - rather it’s more my own approach to it. I’ve added the background explanation here just to help make sense of what’s happened. Please jump ahead if it’s tedious.

Situation was:

  • 640 images, all tagged, noted and available metadata added
  • As I struck apparent “problems”, I tried creating new Tropy files (in alternative locations). This created a further problem of losing track of the Tropy files and their linked images - there were several versions!
  • Once I (somehow) recovered the Tropy file, I then added about 120 more photos (but without yet adding tags/metadata).
  • I then discovered that image #1 in the project was incorrectly displaying image #2. Image #2 itself was still correctly displayed (so there were now two pictures of image #2). However, the notes, tags and metadata for each of the two images was correct.

This morning I set about trying to straighten out the problem:

  • I searched for all the .tpy files on the computer and external drives.
  • I identified the largest .tpy file (which would logically have the most records) and then deleted all the others (they are in the bin and can be recovered if needed).
  • I opened this Tropy file and discovered that the glitch in images #1 and #2 was now gone.
  • I then went to the location of this remaining .tpy file in my laptop and checked the folder of images associated with it. But this folder only held the original 640 images - and not the extra 120 that I’d subsequently added. My perceptive brain instantly recognised that the .tpy file must be linked to another version of the image folder. However, I cannot see if Tropy will actually tell me which set of images it is linked to.
  • On a serious note, I should point out that I do personally struggle with organisational issues - and my tendency is to over-complicate things (I guess this is blindingly obvious). Dealing with these images and Tropy seems to have been fairly typical.

What I’d like to do:
Effectively I just want to end up with one Tropy file, linked to a set of images and to which I can gradually add more pics (and, of course, back it up!). I also do not wish to take up your time unnecessarily.

  • As I hold multiple versions of folders which hold (more or less) the same image files, is there a way of identifying which specific set of images the Tropy project is linked to?
  • Can I simply consolidate the data in the Tropy file to a new version of the images folder?
  • Preferably, I’d really like to avoid having to completely start again.

Thank you for your offer to help me with a custom style override to hide the photo metadata visually. That sounds a perfect solution for my needs. If it’s OK, I will come back to you on that matter once I’ve got myself a little more organised.

My apologies for such a long-winded message.

I’m glad to help! How to organize the files in your project is often a complicated question and it’s best to find a good solution before you get started.

To see which file a photo is linked to in Tropy, you can right click on the photo in the photo panel on the right hand side and select ‘Show original file’ from the menu. Alternatively, you can also select the photo and the click on the file name in the metadata panel to open it in Finder (if you just hover the mouse pointer over the file name the full path should also be displayed).

If this is an advanced project, then this will show you the original file. For a standard project, it will show the copy of the file inside the project bundle, made when importing the file.

With advanced projects, you need to consolidate files whenever they change (e.g., if you change the size of a photo, Tropy will detect that during consolidation and update all the information). If you rename or move the original files, Tropy will prompt you to select the file again if you consolidate it.