Every photo that you take with any camera comes with what’s called EXIF data, which consists of the settings used for taking the photo (shutter speed, aperture, etc), as well as the date and time the photo was taken. Furthermore, if your camera has GPS built-in, it has the ability to store the location of where the photo was taken, right down to the exact coordinates.
This can be a nifty feature for some users, but most of the time, it’s unnecessary and it can be a huge privacy concern. iOS 7, by default, saves this location data to every photo you take with your iPhone or iPad, so when you send a photo to someone, they can see where you took the photo, right down to which side of the road it was taken on. However, it’s easy to disable location data from being stored in photos that you take, and we’ll show you how.
What Can Others See?
When you send other iOS users a photo that you took on your iOS device, they can easily see where the photo was taken, as they can tap on the information above the photo and view a handy, interactive map with a thumbnail of the photo on the exact spot where it was taken (pictured above); it might not be 100% accurate, but it’s close enough to see where the photo was taken, give or take a few feet; it’s insanely accurate.
If you don’t have an iOS device, you can still easily view the location data of a photo taken with an iPhone or iPad using numerous services that can pull EXIF data out of a photo in its entirety. A good online service is Jeffrey’s EXIF Viewer; simply upload or paste in the URL of a photo and it’ll pull out all of the EXIF data it can find, and if it finds location data, it’ll provide a Google Maps satellite view with an arrow pointing at the place where the photo was taken. In fact, testing it out, we saw that the arrow pointed at the right region of the house in the living room where the photo was taken!
To prevent your iPhone or iPad from saving location data in photos, simply open the Settings app and navigate to Privacy > Location Services. You’ll see a list of apps with toggles next to each of them. Find the Camera app and switch the toggle to the off position so that it turns completely gray. Now, all future photos that you take won’t include location data.
Deleting Location Data on Existing Photos
The above action won’t delete location data from photos already taken. However, there’s still hope. There are several services that delete all EXIF and location data from photos, and Windows can even do it natively: Just right-click the photo and choose Properties. Then click the Details tab and select the option that says Remove Properties and Personal Information. Next, choose Remove the following properties from this file followed by Select All and click OK to complete the process.
For Mac users, you can download a small utility called ImageOptim, where you simply drag-and-drop photos into the utility and it’ll remove all EXIF data automatically. However, if you don’t feel like downloading third-party software, Imgur is a free image-hosting service that deletes all EXIF data when you upload photos. Then, you can just re-download the images to your computer, or just go ahead and share them with friends and family using the Imgur links. No sign-up is required.
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