When you take pictures on your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch, the picture you take contains information about the photo that may pose privacy issues. For instance, your camera may contain information that reveals the exact location (latitude and longitude) and time it was taken as well as various other pieces of sensitive data without your knowledge. This information format is called Exchangeable Image File Format (Exif) and is embedded within the image file itself, hidden from regular viewing.
How to view what information is stored in photos taken on the iPhone, iPod touch or iPad:
On iOS devices
There are several apps that let you view this information such as the Exif & IPTC Metadata browser (iTunes link). Simply search the keyword “Exif” in the App Store to find apps that will let you view or edit Exif info. Some photos / images editing apps (e.g. Photogene – iTunes link) also let you view this info.
In Windows XP, simply right click on an image, click ”Properties,” select “Summary” and click “Advanced.” In Windows 7, go to “Properties” and then click on the “Details” tab.
On Mac OS X
Basic Exif information can be viewed by right-clicking on an image and choosing “Get Info.” There are also some apps (e.g. File Viewer) that yield more detailed information in the Mac App Store.
There are also some web sites that let you view Exif info easily such as Jeffrey’s Exif Viewer. Simply upload the pictures from your computer and use the software to view the Exif info.
You don’t want to share your private information along with your photos, so what can you do?
You may want to disable the geotagging feature on your iPhone or iPad. To do so, go to Settings > Privacy > Location Services and toggle the Camera setting to “off.” This will prevent your photos from including location information, specifically latitude and longitude.
You may also delete/erase GPS (location information) from pictures you’ve already taken. You may use a third party app for this. For instance, Photogene can do this. Simply tap Metadata and GPS then press delete.
However, deleting GPS info or disabling geotagging may not be enough. Your photo/image may still contain a lot of private information (like dates, camera model name, software, brightness value etc.).
If you want a better solution, you may want to try to changing your photos/images format. When you take pictures with your iOS device, your device saves it in JPG (JPEG) format. There are other popular image formats like PNG and GIF. EXIF is not supported in PNG, or GIF. A simple solution is to take your picture and copy it to your computer (you may do this by syncing your device with a computer or emailing the picture to yourself), and convert your photos format from JPEG to PNG using photo editing software such as Photoshop. By doing this, your photo will not include any private information.
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Obsessed with tech since the early arrival of A/UX on Apple, Sudz (SK) is responsible for the original editorial direction of AppleToolBox. He is based out of Los Angeles, CA.
Sudz specializes in covering all things macOS, having reviewed dozens of OS X and macOS developments over the years.
In a former life, Sudz worked helping Fortune 100 companies with their technology and business transformation aspirations.