Here’s how to remove metadata from photos (on any device)
Photos depict your digital identity everywhere. But they don’t only reveal what they show, rather they leak a lot more information about you via metadata. This article guides how to remove photos metadata and protect your privacy online.
Now that you’re reading this article about how to remove photos metadata, you must be frequently uploading different images online. Isn’t it?
Well, today, almost every internet user in the world has uploaded at least a couple of photos online. Even the most privacy-freak users have at least uploaded a picture or two of themselves for verification purposes.
Whereas most of you would frequently upload videos as well together with photos. Of course, that’s the only way to share your precious moments with everyone.
However, these photos and videos frequently leak a lot more information about you. While an average person may not really need that info, the spies, online trackers, and hackers do look for them.
In fact, these shady characters actually exploit your photos for their typical data exfiltration activities.
Likewise, the advertisers and social media giants use the information for advertising and tracking purposes.
This piece of worthy personal information about you is the ‘metadata’.
And, if you’re truly concerned about your online privacy, you must remove metadata of photos and videos, technically known as the EXIF metadata.
That’s what we’ll discuss today in this article.
But, before that, let’s understand what metadata is and why you should be careful about it.
What is metadata in photos? What about the EXIF metadata?
If you wish to know what simply metadata is, then it’s just the data for the data. It summarizes what a particular piece of information is all about by mentioning the key details.
Precisely, metadata answers the what, who, when, where, and why of anything.
In the case of photos, the metadata includes these details about the image files. That is, what an image file is, when it was taken, why it was taken, who took that picture, and where it was taken.
Also, this information gets added up with more details as an image file’s transmits and undergoes modifications.
Technically, whenever you take a picture from any digital device, be it your phone or a camera, this metadata also gets stored within the images. Thus, whenever you share that image with anyone or anything, the metadata also gets transported together with the image file.
This entire metadata gets stored as the Exchangeable Image File Format (EXIF). So, that’s what the technical term is for the metadata associated with digital image and video files – the EXIF metadata.
More specifically, the EXIF metadata includes the following details about an image or video file.
- Exact time and date of taking a picture.
- Details about the model, brand, and manufacturer of the device used to take that picture.
- Location information where a photo was taken, often including precise GPS coordinates.
- Camera settings while taking the picture, such as the ISO speed, shutter speed, and aperture.
- Details about any tools used to edit the image, often including the exact software name and version.
For example, suppose you took a picture of sunset in Venice from your Samsung Galaxy smartphone during a trip to Italy. While your photograph would only show the sunset view, the EXIF data of the picture would reveal that you took the picture at 8.37 pm on May 17, 2021, at the Rialto Bridge with a Samsung Galaxy S10 in hand. If you have edited that photo, then that information would be all there in the metadata together with the actual camera settings.
So, you see, that’s how the image metadata in your photos reveals a lot more information that you intend to share. Whereas, if you remove photo metadata, you will only share whatever the images depict without revealing your personal stuff.
(Obviously, you don’t want to let others know the actual camera used for a photo, do you? The most perfect photos are always a secret. But, no, we aren’t giving you any photography tips here. Let’s just stick to the online privacy thing!)
Why should you remove photo’s metadata?
Although, the details in the EXIF metadata remain hidden from average users. Also, they have nothing bad to share with anyone.
Then why should I care to remove photos metadata, we hear you ask?
Well, EXIF metadata has nothing alarming about you. Yet, when it’s about protecting your privacy, then this metadata surely risks a breach.
When you upload images online, such as on your Facebook profile, the EXIF metadata in your photos also gets there. Now, the cyberstalkers keeping an eye on your profile will use the embedded information to know your exact whereabouts. This will not only make them know your existing location but will also enable them to predict your routine.
Another important thing (not really important for the law-abiding citizens, though) is government tracking via metadata.
A classic example of this tracking appeared back in 2012. The authorities tracked the EXIF location data of the photos of an interview of John McAfee when he was hiding in Guatemala.
Though, this isn’t a matter of concern when you don’t want to hide for committing a crime. Yet, just to reiterate, privacy isn’t about hiding crimes; rather, it’s about preventing unnecessary exposure of your personal information.
That’s why you should remember to remove photos metadata before sharing your pictures or videos online.
How to remove metadata of photos on computers
Now that you know why you should remain careful about your privacy breach via photos let’s learn how to remove the EXIF metadata from images.
Although, the steps we describe below generally apply to the image files. Yet, using the same steps, you can also delete the meta-information from videos as well.
Thankfully, it’s straightforward to remove EXIF data on windows 10 from photos and videos.
In most cases, you don’t really have to use any particular software for that. (Yet, if you do, we will share a list of some useful EXIF eraser tools later in this guide.)
Here’s how to ,.”emove your personal data from image and video files on Windows.
Right-click on the image you need to remove the metadata from. Then find ‘Properties’ at the end of the menu.
On the new window appearing with properties, click on the ‘Details’ tab. You’ll see the properties of your image file. If your chosen image is a photograph, then scrolling down the details will let you view your camera details as well.
Since you need to remove info from the photo, click on “Remove Properties and Personal Information” at the bottom.
You’ll now see the following window. Click on the first option “Create a copy with all possible properties removed”.
Now click the “OK” button. You’ll have a copy image created with the maximal data removed from the photo. Whereas, the original image file would remain intact. (You can also compare the two files to see what sort of information Windows has removed from the photo.)
Here, if you wish to leave specific details, such as your device name, click on the second option and manually select the details you need to remove. This won’t create a copy of your original photo. Instead, it’ll remove the selected details from the original image file.
Using the same steps, you can remove the EXIF metadata from videos as well.
Unfortunately, macOS users do not have the ease of removing metadata from photos and videos without tools. Though, you can at least remove the location data from the files.
Here’s how to view EXIF data and remove the permitted details from your photos on Mac:
- Open your selected image file in Preview.
- Go to Tools > Show Inspector, and click on the (i) icon for information.
- Now select the GPS tab and click on the “Remove Location Info” option. If you don’t see the GPS tab, that means your image file does not include any location data.
How to delete meta information from pictures on smartphones
In the case of smartphones, precisely, Android and iOS, unfortunately, there is no system option to remove photos metadata. In some cases, you can view the image info; that too depends on the type of image gallery app. Not every app offers the liberty to view and delete EXIF metadata.
Therefore, you may need to use a relevant EXIF eraser tool to remove image properties.
Best tools to remove photos metadata quickly
Although, you can easily remove photos metadata to a greater extent using the steps we shared just shared. However, if you wish to thoroughly delete all EXIF metadata (since some of the details remain behind even after you remove them via the usual methods), you need specific tools.
So, here is a quick list of the tools that will surely help you clean your photos from your personal stuff.
- Link: https://exiftool.org/
- Supported platforms: Windows, macOS, Linux
Whether you wish to remove photos metadata or want to get rid of the entire EXIF data from videos, ExifTool is the best choice. The tool is a popular photo anonymizer for some good reasons.
It’s an open-source, free tool that processes different file formats to edit, manipulate, or delete metadata. Using this tool, you can manage different metadata formats as well, such as EXIF, IPTC, JFIF, XMP, and even the typical metadata formats for digital cameras.
Besides photos, you can also use this tool to remove metadata from video on Mac, Windows, or even Linux. Moreover, you can use this tool for processing and audio and PDF files as well.
- Link: http://exifpurge.com/
- Supported platforms: Windows, macOS
Another exciting and user-friendly tool to remove metadata from photos is EXIF Purge. Using this tool, you can get rid of all the personal data embedded within your photos in a few clicks.
Since the tool works as a batch remover, you can select multiple photos and remove the EXIF data from all of them at once. This makes it a very useful tool for those who need to manage bulk image files frequently.
Photo exif editor
- Link: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=net.xnano.android.photoexifeditor
- Supported platform: Android
This one is a dedicated EXIF editor app for Android users that you can download from the Google Play Store.
It’s a comprehensive app that not only allows you to delete metadata from photos,’ but also lets you view and change the details.
For instance, if you don’t want to remove the location from an image, you can simply spoof it. (You don’t need a VPN for it. Though, having a robust Android VPN on your device is a nice privacy practice.)
- Link: https://apps.apple.com/gb/app/metapho/id914457352
- Supported platforms: iOS
Metapho is a dedicated EXIF eraser app for iOS users. You can easily find and download this app from the Apple App Store. Then, you can use it on your iPhone or iPad to remove photos metadata in a few clicks.
Besides removing the data, the app also lets you edit and change the details, such as the date, time, and location data in a file.
Also, the app works as a batch remover, allowing you to manage multiple photos at once.
How to take photos without metadata
Although you need a tool to remove photos metadata, you can also manage taking photos without having the data. At the very least, you can achieve taking a photograph without the location data (GPS coordinates).
Here’s you to do it on your Android or iOS device:
Adjusting settings via the camera app:
- Open the device camera and locate the gear icon to reach settings.
- Find the GPS option (something like ‘GPS location info’ or ‘GPS tag’) and toggle it off.
Adjusting settings via the main menu:
- Go to your device Settings and find ‘Camera’ in the apps list.
- Tap on ‘Camera’ and then check the ‘Permissions.’
- Make sure to toggle the ‘Location’ option off.
You can also countercheck this permission by looking for the apps accessing your device location from the ‘Permissions’ menu.
- Go to Settings > Privacy > Location Services.
- Find ‘Camera’ among the apps listed below and tap on it.
- In the section ‘ALLOW LOCATION ACCESS,’ select ‘Never.’
Sharing pictures is fun, regardless of whether it’s your own picture or you have downloaded it from somewhere. However, the information embedded within the files is not always a thing to ignore.
Of course, you should have complete control over what you share with others. Therefore, you have the right to view, access, and remove photos metadata whenever you want.
After going through this guide and getting to know some best metadata removers, you must have noticed how easy it is to have stealthy internet security and privacy without refraining from sharing images.
So, the next time you are going to upload a picture or a video anywhere, just spend a few minutes removing the EXIF metadata to protect your privacy — And you’re good to go!
About the author
Abeerah is a passionate technology blogger and cybersecurity enthusiast. She yearns to know everything about the latest technology developments. Specifically, she’s crazy about the three C’s; computing, cybersecurity, and communication. When she is not writing, she’s reading about the tech world.