Categories: Utilities

Easily Remove GPS Location from Photographs

Your GPS Data is Stamped on Your Mobile Photos

Most cell phones nowadays stamp each digital photograph with the GPS coordinates of where the photo was taken. If you upload this to Google Photos, google will happily pinpoint the location on Google Maps with a click or two (and some applications may show this information when you view the photo). In addition the photograph will have other metadata such as camera make and model, etc. If you are going to share the photo with others or post it publicly, many times you don’t want this information, particularly, your location information, posted to the web.

Exiftool offers an easy and straightforward method of stripping metadata and is available for Windows, Mac, and Linux.

Backup Your Photos Before Stripping Meta Data

Make sure you have a backup of all of your original photos with all metadata before you start and only strip information from a copy of the photo (although by default it also makes a backup of the photo, adding “_original” to the extension).

Using Exiftool To Strip Meta-Data

  1. View All Meta Data in Photo

  2. On command line (in windows use CMD):

    exiftool picture.jpg

    This produces output like this:

    ExifTool Version Number         : 10.80
    File Name                       : picture.jpg
    Directory                       : .
    File Size                       : 3.3 MB
    File Modification Date/Time     : 2020:01:22 22:26:15-06:00
    File Access Date/Time           : 2020:01:22 22:26:46-06:00
    File Inode Change Date/Time     : 2020:01:22 22:26:45-06:00
    File Permissions                : rw-rw-r--
    File Type                       : JPEG
    File Type Extension             : jpg
    MIME Type                       : image/jpeg
    JFIF Version                    : 1.01
    Resolution Unit                 : inches
    X Resolution                    : 72
    Y Resolution                    : 72
    Profile CMM Type                : Linotronic
    Profile Version                 : 2.1.0
    Profile Class                   : Display Device Profile
    Color Space Data                : RGB
    Profile Connection Space        : XYZ
    Profile Date Time               : 1998:02:09 06:49:00
    Profile File Signature          : acsp
    Primary Platform                : Microsoft Corporation
    CMM Flags                       : Not Embedded, Independent
    Device Manufacturer             : Hewlett-Packard
    Device Model                    : sRGB
    Device Attributes               : Reflective, Glossy, Positive, Color
    Rendering Intent                : Perceptual
    Connection Space Illuminant     : 0.9642 1 0.82491
    Profile Creator                 : Jerry S
    Profile ID                      : 0
    Profile Copyright               : Copyright (c) Jerry S
    Profile Description             : sRGB IEC61966-2.1
    Media White Point               : 0.95045 1 1.08905
    Media Black Point               : 0 0 0
    Red Matrix Column               : 0.43607 0.22249 0.01392
    Green Matrix Column             : 0.38515 0.71687 0.09708
    Blue Matrix Column              : 0.14307 0.06061 0.7141
    Device Mfg Desc                 : IEC http://www.iec.ch
    Device Model Desc               : IEC 61966-2.1 Default RGB colour space - sRGB
    Viewing Cond Desc               : Reference Viewing Condition in IEC61966-2.1
    Viewing Cond Illuminant         : 19.6445 20.3718 16.8089
    Viewing Cond Surround           : 3.92889 4.07439 3.36179
    Viewing Cond Illuminant Type    : D50
    Luminance                       : 76.03647 80 87.12462
    Measurement Observer            : CIE 1931
    Measurement Backing             : 0 0 0
    Measurement Geometry            : Unknown
    Measurement Flare               : 0.999%
    Measurement Illuminant          : D65
    Technology                      : Cathode Ray Tube Display
    Red Tone Reproduction Curve     : (Binary data 2060 bytes, use -b option to extract)
    Green Tone Reproduction Curve   : (Binary data 2060 bytes, use -b option to extract)
    Blue Tone Reproduction Curve    : (Binary data 2060 bytes, use -b option to extract)
    Image Width                     : 3996
    Image Height                    : 6000
    Encoding Process                : Baseline DCT, Huffman coding
    Bits Per Sample                 : 8
    Color Components                : 3
    Y Cb Cr Sub Sampling            : YCbCr4:2:0 (2 2)
    Image Size                      : 2996x6000
    Megapixels                      : 24.0
    
  3. Remove Only the Location Information from Photo

  4. exiftool -gps:all= -xmp:geotag= picture.jpg
  5. Remove Location Plus (caution, will strip other useful information)

  6. Adding an extra flag makes sure other xmp information that may contain gps location is also stripped. Unfortunately, this will also remove other information you may want to keep:

    exiftool -gps:all= -xmp-exif:all=  picture.jpg
  7. Remove All Metadata from Photo

  8. Type the following

    exiftool -ALL=  picture.jpg

    Same photo as above, but with ll exif metadata information stripped, leaving only file and technical information:

    ExifTool Version Number         : 10.80
    File Name                       : picture.jpg
    Directory                       : .
    File Size                       : 3.3 MB
    File Modification Date/Time     : 2020:01:23 09:32:11-06:00
    File Access Date/Time           : 2020:01:23 09:32:12-06:00
    File Inode Change Date/Time     : 2020:01:23 09:32:11-06:00
    File Permissions                : rw-rw-r--
    File Type                       : JPEG
    File Type Extension             : jpg
    MIME Type                       : image/jpeg
    Image Width                     : 3996
    Image Height                    : 6000
    Encoding Process                : Baseline DCT, Huffman coding
    Bits Per Sample                 : 8
    Color Components                : 3
    Y Cb Cr Sub Sampling            : YCbCr4:2:0 (2 2)
    Image Size                      : 3996x6000
    Megapixels                      : 24.0
    

    For the full set of features and documentation see the Exiftool website.

Charlie

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