Erasing the Locations of Your Family Photographs

In yesterday’s newsletter, I wrote about adding location information to family photographs. (That article is still available at https://goo.gl/g2g2JG.) I also mentioned that “… pictures taken with iPhones and most Android phones already have the longitude and latitude information embedded into the photograph.”

In some cases, you might not want to have location information embedded in a photograph, especially one that is to be shared online. A picture of your children or grandchildren playing at home or in the back yard might be one example. In theory, a pedophile could determine where the children spend their time. Also, you might not want a picture of your expensive new automobile parked in your driveway to be circulated online. An auto thief could easily find where to steal the auto.

If you are a fisherman, you might not want to broadcast to the world the location of your secret fishing spot as detailed in the EXIF information of the photo of you holding up that 6-pound lake trout you just caught!

Luckily, it is easy to erase location information from photographs, should you wish to do so.

Undoubtedly the easiest way to stop recording location information from being recorded in your photos is to disable the feature in your iPhone or Android phone before taking the picture. That is easy to do. Instructions for turning off iPhone location information may be found by starting at https://goo.gl/izf58A while similar information for Android phones may be found by starting at https://goo.gl/dVZ0rH.

Admittedly, many people won’t think about the problem until after the picture has been taken. Should that happen to you, don’t despair. Deleting the EXIF information (containing location and other information) is easy to accomplish. For one thing, you might use any of the programs listed in yesterday’s article. Not only can those programs add EXIF information, they can also delete it. (My favorite trick is simply CHANGE the EXIF information to some point in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean.) However, there are also other ways to quickly and easily delete location information.

Windows

On a Windows computer, display the picture files you wish to “sanitize” by removing EXIF information. In File Explorer, right-click on one of the picture files and choose Properties from the contextual menu.

When the Properties box opens, select the Details tab. At the bottom of the box, click the link for “Remove Properties and Personal Information.” In the Remove Properties box that appears, you can choose to create a copy of the photo that wipes as much information as possible from the file. You can also opt instead to use the original file and delete data selectively.

If you stick with the original file, go down the list of properties in the box and select the information you want to remove from the file. Click the OK button when you are finished.

Repeat the process for each photo you want to edit.

Also, Exif Remover is a free web-based utility that will remove EXITF information. It can be found at http://www.verexif.com/en.

If you have a large number of pictures to change, third-party EXIF-editing programs can delete the information from many photographs at once.

BatchPurifier for Windows is one popular program that will clear EXITF data from all sorts of photographs, videos, music files, and other file types. A free demo version BatchPurifier is available at http://www.digitalconfidence.com/batchpurifier.html but it is limited to only cleaning EXIF information from JPG files. For many people, that will suffice. However, if you would like to clear EXIF data from up to 25 different file types, including Microsoft Office® documents (Word, Excel, PowerPoint)*, OpenOffice™ documents, PDF documents, and popular image and media file types such as JPEG, JPEG 2000, PNG, SVG, AVI, WAV, AIFF, MP3, MP4, and F4V), the paid version of BatchPurifier may be purchased for $19 from the same address.

Macintosh

On a Macintosh computer, open up your photo in the Preview app, go to Tools in your menu bar and select Show Inspector. Click on the (i) icon for the info panel, select the GPS sub tab, and you’ll see a “Remove Location Info” button. Hit that, save your photo, and you’re ready for location-free uploading.

NOTE: In the Macintosh’s Preview app, if there is no GPS tab shown or if the (i) or GPS tab displays all blanks, that indicates that the picture does not have location data embedded in it. Also keep in mind that EXIF data, including location information, is only found in JPG and TIFF pictures that have ben taken with a GPS-equipped camera, such as with an iPhone or an Android. Most other cameras are incapable of recording location information although there are a few exceptions.

Exif Remover is a free web-based utility that will remove EXITF information. It can be found at http://www.verexif.com/en.

If you have a large number of pictures to change, third-party EXIF-editing programs can delete the information from many photographs at once.

iLove Metadata Remover is a $2.99 app that may be purchased from the Macintosh App Store. See https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/ilove-metadata-remover/id1091268452?mt=12 for details.

Android and iPhone

Several apps for Android and iPhone will also erase location information. To find one, use your iPhone or Android phone to open the App Store (called the Play Store on Android) and search for “EXIF remover.” There should be several to choose from.

Summation

Location information embedded in EXIF information in digital photographs can be a great tool for many purposes. However, there may be times when you do not want to share location information. Use the tool wisely.

One Comment

Wait what? They are actually collecting information on family photos? I need to do some removing on both my PC and my Macbook Pro.

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