When you snap a photo on your iPhone or iPad, iOS automatically uses its GPS smarts to record the exact location of the shot. This is an enormous convenience as it allows you to catalog your many images according to exact location, as well as occasion. It assists in sorting out photo shoots and helps the family memory manager keep track of family and friends over the years, which can settle many an argument.
Most of the time, photo location metadata is welcome. But sometimes it’s not. When you share a photo with geolocation coordinates tagged in a photo’s EXIF data, viewers can use their Photos app to figure out where the shot was taken. When you’re posting photos to social media, especially on Twitter where many people you don’t personally know may be followers, you probably don’t want to post a photo that’s too close to home — or in your home — without a way to remove that information, just to protect your privacy. Even with Facebook, which is famous for tracking you all over the internet, you may not be comfortable posting an image to friends that carries so much native data.
With iOS 13, Apple redoubles its commitment to security and anti-tracking technologies by providing a new way to remove photo location information from any shot before sharing it with someone, or on social media. Now you can remove the location from photos, videos, or multiple images and movies you want to send via Mail, Messages, Facebook, Twitter, Messenger, or… you name it. That way, you don’t have to worry about a stranger finding out your approximate address from your iPhone shots. Here’s how to do that.
- Shoot your photo or video as you normally do with the Camera app.
- Find the album or section where the photo lives.
- If you’re just sharing a single image or video, open it, and tap the Share button.
- To share multiple photos and videos, tap Select in the album or section view, tap on all the files you’re sending, and tap the Share button.
- When you’re about to share in the Photos app, observe a new Options button in iOS 13.
- Tap on Options and in the next pane, toggle off Location.
- Then send your photo via any conduit you like. There will now be no way for the viewer to decipher the location where it was shot. Note that the toggle is not historical, but must be reset after each send.
You can only remove the location within the iPhone Photos app, so be sure to share your shots directly from the app. This handy iOS 13 privacy feature is designed only for the photos and videos you share with others. The photos residing on your device retain all their location information — it’s only the ones sent via text, email, or social media that will strip out the location data. The rest of the metadata associated with your image — time, device type, shutter speed, and aperture, remains with your shot.You can see that location data was actually removed in iOS 13. To view where a photo or video was taken, swipe up in the Photos app. If location was enabled when you shot it, a map appears pinpointing it in Places. Turning off the Location using the new iOS 13 feature means that when you share it, that image does not carry the location metadata with it.
Removing Geolocation from photos in iOS 12
Even if you have not yet installed iOS 13, or intend to wait till all the bugs are ironed out before doing so, you can still hide your geolocation from images you post to the public. In iOS 12, there are a few ways to strip geotags from photos and videos, but it takes some extra steps and is not as flexible, compared with iOS 13. Here’s how to do it.
Disable Location Services
- Choose Settings from your device’s Home screen.
- Scroll down to find the Privacy selection and tap.
- Tap Location Services.
- Tap Camera.
- Tap Never.
This action prevents the Camera app from recording location information in your shot, so you can’t share what you don’t have. But that method can be inconvenient if you’d like to preserve that metadata for personal use, even if you don’t want to share it.
Use a third-party app
There are a variety of third party apps that you can use to remove iPhone Camera metadata. Here are a couple of our favorites.
Metapho: Metapho ($4) is a share extension that appears when you tap the share command of any photo on your phone. It lets you view iOS photo metadata such as date, file name, size, camera model, shutter speed, and location. You can check metadata and export an image without metadata. You can also see photo EXIF data, Safe Share by removing geotag and personal information, change the date and time of a photo, add or change geolocation data of a photo, edit multiple metadata at once, and save as a new copy or replace the original with a revertible version.
Exify: Not only does Exify ($2) let you access extremely detailed information about your images, such as location, elevation and maps, and capture time in local time and UTC, it lets you selectively remove, alter, and substitute information as well. Among its many functions is the ability to remove location information and add GPS metadata from a different image.
ViewExif: The ViewExif ($1) app extension, is designed for people who want to protect their privacy. It lets you share photos without metadata on Twitter, Facebook, and email.