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Sun Oct 27 01:32:15 BST 2019

Synchronize the metadata between database and the file's metadata of all
items of the current Main Window. The images will inherit the database
metadata, not the other way around."  2)"Tools->Update Metadata Database:
Launch synchronization of all metadata between database and files for all
files (not just current view as with this (Album->Synch) menu). Database
metadata will be overwritten with the file's metadata in case of
discrepancy. The opposite you can do from the Album menu."

How I synched up the digikam database and the IPTC Keywords: 1.Close
digikam. 2.Use exiftool to set the IPTC Keywords field to "" (Proceed with
exiftool at your own risk - especially with raw files - until you are
certain the command you use does what you want and doesn't cause trouble
with other applications):

elle at rn:~$ exiftool -Keywords='' -R /home/elle/dgcan/phowork
   11 directories scanned
  181 image files updated

3.Open digikam.  Now there are no keywords showing in the right sidebar
metadata IPTC tab.  This is good.  Also, exiftool has created backup files
with the extension ".<your extension>_original.  These backup files can be
deleted once you are satisfied that all is right with your images and the
digikam database.  4.Click on "Tools" and choose "Update metadata database". 
Like magic, the database keyword hierarchy appears in the IPTC "Keywords"

I have "really really really" tried, but I can't find any difference between
"album synch" and "update metadata" (other than the "one folder" vs "whole
database" aspect).  I would expect that having erased the IPTC keywords,
then "update metadata" would wipe out all the tags in the database, leaving
no tags in the database and no keywords in IPTC.  But it doesn't.  Instead
it puts the database tags into the IPTC Keywords field, which is the desired
(in this case), if puzzling, behavior.

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