I have a library on macOS Mojave with around 35000 photos.
There were times when I took my DSLR and my iPhone on trips. For recent trips I made a script (via exiftool) that copies the GPS data from the closest (by timestamp) iPhone photo to a DSLR photo. Then I added the dslr photos to the iCloud photo library.

But now I want to do the same for already existing photos in my library. Meaning I can't use my script, because once I modify the original files, Photos does not notice the changes, nor does it upload the modified filed to the iCloud so that the changes would show up on every device.
That's when I discovered HoudahGeo. I tried it and so far it looks promising. Also, because when I change locations manually in the original file is not modified. Meaning the location persists only in the iCloud Databasefiles. 

What I'm wondering though, and couldn't figure out quite, is whether the modifications of the file will also be uploaded to the cloud. 
So lets say I updated a couple of files using reference photos. Now I click on "EXIF/XMP-Export", let the Original photo's tags  be updated and notify the library.
I see that the photos have location data now in and also the jpeg files itself have gps data.
But what if I'm on a new mac for example and I set up photos to use my iCloud photo library. It will download the original photos from the cloud. But will these files have the location data in them that I just updated using HoudahGeo? Or will that info just be in the Library files?

Thanks for any tipps!
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Last I checked, iCloud Photos does not sync masters/originals to the cloud. It uploads these only once and then considers the cloud to hold the "truth". What is on your Mac is considered a mere local cache / disposable copy.

Geotagging these files does not cause iCloud Photos to upload the changed files. Thus all appears good on the Mac where you geotagged the images. Should you ever download the files from iCloud to a new Mac you will find that these are not geotagged. Or most are not geotagged. Some may be if you managed to geotag them before iCloud Photos got a chance to upload them.

iCloud Photos also has the option to "optimize storage". This has it remove local files that Apple Photos does not currently need. I.e. it will delete the geotagged copies and at a later point download the files lacking geotags from iCloud Photos.

That's why I recommend users of iCloud Photos to geotag photos before loading them into Apple Photos. E.g. by using the camera import feature in HoudahGeo to copy images from your camera onto your Mac first. Geotag the photos and only then add them to your Photos library. Thus iCloud Photos will only get to the images after these have been geotagged. This way geotags get backed up to iCloud. Also: you can skip the "notify" feature in HoudahGeo. Apple Photos will load location information from the EXIF/XMP tags.

I have logged a feature request with Apple to actually sync changes to image files up to the cloud. I don't think this has been addressed in macOS Mojave - but have yet to check.

If you want to have geotagged versions of your existing photos uploaded to the cloud, you will need to export remove them from the Photos application. Geotag the files and then re-import them. In the process you will lose edits (metadata and retouching) you made in Photos.

Alternatively, you can geotag the files on your Mac and create a backup other than iCloud Photos. You will still not have geotagged photos in iCloud, but have safe copies of your geotagged photos should your hard disk fail.

Pierre Bernard
Houdah Software s.à r.l.

Houdah Software s. à r. l.

HoudahGeo: One-stop photo geocoding
HoudahSpot: Advanced file search utility
Tembo: Easy and effective file search
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