Just because you want to share a photo with someone doesn’t necessarily mean you want to share the exact location you took it with them. Fortunately, it’s easy to send a photo without sending sensitive data along with it.
The iPhone, like other smartphones, embeds tons of metadata into each photograph you take with the onboard camera. This data, known as EXIF data, includes a lot of benign information from the general (the time the photo was taken) to the very technical (the ISO speed the camera used and the color space profile the photo was recorded in, for example). It also includes, if your phone is configured to allow it, embedded GPS data (known as “geotagging”) which pinpoints the location the photo was taken down to a few square meters.
While it hardly matters if your mom knows that the photo of your kid was taken in your backyard (as she likely already has the address and knows where you live) it’s a different story if you’re sending a photo to a potential Craigslist buyer that you would prefer not know exactly where the photo was taken. Thankfully, there are more than a few apps that make it dead simple to send a photo with the EXIF metadata removed.
Note: Our focus today is on sending photos from your iPhone or iPad with GPS location (and other metadata) removed; if you want to remove all the location metadata from your existing photos, stop your iPhone from recording GPS metadata in the future, check out our tutorial on the subject here.
How to Send GPS-Stripped Photos with ViewExif
If you search in the App Store, there are dozens upon dozens of iOS apps for viewing, manipulating, and removing EXIF meta data. While you’re free to explore through them all, including the free options, we’re strongly recommend ViewExif ($0.99), which is more than worth the buck price tag.
Not only is ViewExif very simple to use, but it integrates so well with the iOS share sheet system that it comes off feeling like a feature integrated into iOS to begin with. To get started, grab your iOS device and download ViewExif from the App Store. Once you’ve downloaded the app, resist the urge to tap the “Open” link right in the App Store app. ViewExif is totally designed to integrate into iOS and be called from other apps—if you run the app by itself it just gives you information about the app and the user manual.
Instead, open up the Photos app (or whatever other app you regularly use to manage and send your photos). Select a photo. You’ll note, in our screenshot below, that we have the location blurred out—the test photo we took of an early spring flower blooming in our backyard was, quite accurately, tagged with the exact location of our backyard. Tap on the Share icon in the lower left corner.
Within the Share menu, swipe left on the lower menu, where the system functions like Copy and Paste are located.
At the end of the function row, tap on the “More” icon.
Locate the entry in the “Activity” list for “ViewExif” and toggle it on. In the screenshot below, we have not only turned it on but also dragged it further up the list for easy access by grabbing the the little three-bar icon. Tap “Done”.
Now, in the photo selection screen, you’ll see “ViewExif” as an option in function bar at the bottom. Tap on it now.
You’ll be immediately prompted to allow “ViewExif” to access your photos. Click OK.
Here, you can see all the metadata attached to the photo, including those aforementioned technical stats about it as well as the location data. While ViewExif is, as the name implies, perfect for reviewing that information, we’re here to send the photo with that information removed. To do so tap the Share icon in the upper left corner of the screen.
Select “Share without Metadata” from the popup menu.
After selecting “Share without Metadata”, you’ll be prompted to select how you wish to share it. You can select from any of the usual suspects in your share sheet gallery including AirDrop, Message, Mail, or any other option available to you including uploading the photo to your iCloud Drive, Dropbox, or other cloud services.
That’s all there is to it! ViewExif strips the metadata away and the photo, wherever you send it, will only reveal what the photo itself displays and not the hidden data (including the GPS coordinates where it was taken).
Image Credit: sterankofrank.