Anyone can see where your iPhone photos are taken. Here’s how to stop it

Your iPhone photo metadata is easy to find and read.

Sarah Tew / CNET

It is not surprising that your iPhone keeps track of where you go. Usually for a good reason: location tracking is the reason many of your apps work, from routes in Google maps looking for a nearby restaurant on Bark. This location awareness also extends to images in your Photos app.

Every time you take a photo or record a video with your iPhone, it creates information about the file, including the date it was created and your location, and then buries that data, more precisely called “metadata”, in your media.

While metadata has useful and even essential purposes, it can quickly become a privacy issue, especially when it comes to your location. If someone has access to the photos you’ve saved on their smartphone, they can easily sift through the metadata to identify locations and find out where you live or work.

Fortunately, with the release of iOS 15, Apple has made it easy to remove (or even steal) your location from the photos and videos you take on your iPhone, so prying eyes can’t potentially see where you are. We will explain how to do it. To learn more about iPhone privacy, see privacy settings you need to check, how to prevent advertisements from following you around the web, and Safari browser privacy settings to change.

What exactly is photo metadata? TL; DR version

Almost all the photos you take on your iPhone have a lot of hidden information stored: metadata. This metadata, more precisely called EXIF ​​data for images, contains descriptive information that makes each image unique. This includes date of creation, camera information and settings, location, and more.

This information helps applications quickly identify and organize photos. On your iPhone, that’s why you can do something like organize your photos by date taken, or why iOS can create those personalized Memories videos of you on vacation.

Metadata is therefore extremely useful, unless it falls into the wrong hands. If someone can see the metadata, they’ll likely find out where you go and live, and that could become a problem. If this gives you goosebumps, you can remove location metadata from your photos and videos.

How to remove location info from your iPhone photo

Under each photo you take on your iPhone, you can see a map showing the approximate location of where the photo was taken. Here’s how to access this information and remove a photo’s location:

  1. In the Pictures app, navigate to the photo you want to adjust.
  2. Now swipe up on the photo or press the info button (i) to view the photo info.
  3. Then press Adjust in the lower right corner of the map. This will show the exact address or location where the photo was taken.
  4. Finally, press No location. You will be redirected to the photo information, where the map will then disappear and the location metadata will disappear.
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All you have to do is swipe up on a photo, tap Adjust, and then tap No Location to remove location metadata from a photo.

Nelson Aguilar / CNET

How to spoof a photo’s location metadata

If you don’t want to remove the location metadata, you can always spoof it, which means you give a photo a different location instead. While it is best to remove the location for privacy reasons, identity theft can make someone believe you are somewhere else, such as in another country:

  1. Return to the Pictures app, choose a photo and swipe up to view photo info.
  2. On the map that appears, tap Adjust.
  3. At the top of the Adjust location page, enter a location or address in the search box. As you type, suggestions will appear below.
  4. Choose where you want to give the photo. This will become the new location of the photo stored in the metadata.

How does my iPhone track my location?

Your iPhone is using something called Rental services to locate your phone’s location – using a combination of GPS, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and cell phone towers.

It’s what helps you find local events on Eventbrite, browse movie times on the Cinemark Theaters app, or mark where you are on Instagram – and it’s what marks your location every time you. take a picture.

Isn’t it good that my iPhone photos are geotagged?

For the most part, having your photo’s location tracked, or “geotagged,” is a good thing. Using the search in the Photos app, you can enter a location like “Los Angeles”, and every photo you took in LA will appear. Every now and then I like to scroll through the photos I took on vacation, which are only easy to find thanks to their location metadata.

So why should I care?

Unfortunately, in the wrong hands, metadata can be used for malicious purposes.

For example, let’s say you just met someone new, maybe on a dating site, and they are interested in you. You take a few selfies at home and text them. But before you can meet that person in person, things go wrong and the contact between the two of you ends.

However, they do have your photos, and with that, they might also have the metadata that can show where you live, work, eat, or visit, depending on where you took the photos you sent. And for privacy reasons, it may make you uncomfortable.

You don’t have to worry about the photos you upload to social media

Lucky for you, not all of your photos or videos will contain location metadata because it may have been erased for you. For example, any photos or videos you upload to Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and other social media services have their EXIF ​​data deleted, due to privacy concerns. If someone uploads your photos from your social media accounts, they have no way of determining your location from the metadata.

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Stop location metadata for every photo you take by turning off location services.

Nelson Aguilar / CNET

What else can I do to protect myself?

However, if your privacy concerns are not resolved by this technique of removing metadata on your iPhone, you can always turn off location services completely in your settings so that every photo or video you take does not have any metadata from. location stored in:

  1. Open the Settings application
  2. Press on Privacy -> Rental services
  3. Scroll down and press Camera
  4. To select Never

Once location services are turned off for the Camera app, you will no longer see location metadata for the photos and videos you take.

Whether you are a new user or a seasoned iPhone veteran, here are some The best hidden features of iOS 15 and 20 Simple iPhone 13 Settings Changes You Wish You Had Made Earlier.


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