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How to remove location data from your iPhone photos

When you snap a photo on your iPhone or iPad, the iOS Camera app automatically uses GPS to record the exact location where the shot was taken. 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 keep track of family and friends over the years. 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 own Photos app — or any number of third-party apps — to figure out where the shot was taken. When you’re posting photos to social media, especially on Twitter, 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 and protect your privacy. Even with Facebook, which is famous for tracking you all over the internet, you may not be comfortable posting an image that carries so much precious data.

It's also worth keeping in mind that even though some social media services like Facebook do remove location data before the photos you upload are posted, this just prevents other users from seeing where your photos were taken. It's a safe bet that these services are still keeping track of this information for their own advertising and marketing purposes. So, if you really want to protect your privacy, the only way to make sure your location data isn't being tracked is to make sure it's removed from your photos before they leave your iPhone in the first place.

Difficulty

Moderate

Duration

15 minutes

What You Need

  • iPhone or iPad

Apple is strongly committed to preserving the privacy of its users, and among many other security and privacy features, iOS 13 added an option that lets you quickly remove photo location information from any shot before sharing it. You can remove the location from photos, videos, or multiple images and movies you want to send via Mail, Messages, Facebook, Twitter, Messenger, or any other app. That way, you don’t have to worry about a stranger finding out your location from your iPhone shots. Even if you're only sending a photo to one or two friends, you can't always be certain they won't send it along to somebody else, or post it on social media, and once it's out there, your location data will continue to travel along with it.

how to remove location data from iphone photos in ios 13 15 hide when sharing
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Removing geolocation when sharing photos (iOS 13 and later)

Starting with iOS 13, Apple has made it really easy to strip out the location information from photos before you share them, but you'll still need to be diligent as you have to use this option each time you share a photo. Here's how to go about it:

Step 1: Open the Photos app, find a photo you want to share, and tap to open it.

Step 2: Tap the Share button in the bottom-left corner. The standard sharing options should appear.

Step 3: At the top, below 1 Photo Selected, you should see the location that's stored in the photo, followed by a small Options button. If this section is blank or says No Location, then you don't need to proceed any further as there's no geolocation data in the photo to begin with.

how to remove location data from iphone photos in ios 13 15 sharing photo with no
Jesse Hollington / Digital Trends

Step 4: If you see anything other than No Location, tap the small Options button beside it. An Options screen will appear.

Step 5: Tap the switch beside Location to toggle it off.

how to remove location data from iphone photos in ios 13 15 photo sharing options hide
Jesse Hollington / Digital Trends

Step 6: Tap Done. You'll be returned to the sharing screen, and should now see No Location beside the Options button at the top.

Step 7: Proceed to share the photo as you normally would. All location data will be stripped out before sharing, so neither the recipients nor any messaging or social media services you're sharing with will have any idea where the photo was taken.

Note that you can only remove location information when sharing directly from the Photos app, so you must start from there if you want to be sure your location info is being properly stripped out. This won't be available when you add a photo to a post directly in a third-party app like Facebook or Twitter, or even Apple's own Messages app.

how to remove location data from iphone photos in ios 13 15 removing
Jesse Hollington / Digital Trends

Removing geolocation information from stored photos (iOS 15)

Removing geolocation data when sharing a photo only removes it from the copy that you're actually sending out. The location information remains with the original image in your iPhone photo library, and you'll have to disable it each time you want to share a photo.

Normally, this isn't a big problem, since having this info in your private photo library is a good thing for helping you keep track of your photos, but it can become a hassle for images that you're regularly posting and sharing with others. The good news is that iOS 15 now allows you to remove this data from your photos a bit more permanently. Here's how to do it:

Step 1: Open the Photos app, find the photo you want to permanently hide the location info from, and tap to open it.

Step 2: Swipe up to bring up the detailed info screen. This will show you when the photo was taken and the model of camera used to take it, along with other details like aperture, f-stop, resolution and size. Below that, you should see a map of the location where the photo was taken.

Step 3: Tap the Adjust button in the bottom-right corner of the map. An Adjust Location screen will appear.

Step 4: Tap No Location. You'll be returned to the info screen and you should see that the map has disappeared and been replaced with an "Add a Location" button.

Note that this process does not completely erase the location from your photo. Much like any other edit, it's stripped out of the working version of the photo, but remains in the EXIF data of the underlying original. This means you won't see it in the Photos app or any other apps you use to open or share it, but it will still be there if you transfer the original photo to a computer via USB or export the "Unmodified Original" from iCloud Photo Library using the Mac Photos app.

The main advantage of removing it in this way is that you won't have to worry about inadvertently exposing your location when sharing these photos, as only the location-free version of the photo will be used when selecting pictures from your photo library to share or post on social media.

how to remove location data from iphone photos in ios 13 15 removing multiple
Jesse Hollington / Digital Trends

Removing geolocation information from multiple stored photos (iOS 15)

It's also possible to remove the location information from several photos in your library at once, although the method for this differs slightly as you can't pull up the detailed information for more than one photo at a time. Here's how to go about it:

Step 1: Open the Photos app and locate the group of photos you want to permanently hide the location info form.

Step 2: Tap the Select button in the top-right corner.

Step 3: Tap each of the photos for which you want to remove location info.

Step 4: Tap the Share button in the bottom-right corner, just like you would if you wanted to share the photos to social media or send them to a friend. The standard share sheet appears.

Step 5: Instead of tapping one of the sharing options, scroll down and tap Adjust Location.

Step 6: Tap No Location. The location data will be removed from the entire group of photos.

how to remove location data from iphone photos in ios 13 15 restoring
Jesse Hollington / Digital Trends

Restoring location information to photos in iOS 15

If you've removed the location information from a photo using the new editing metadata features in iOS 15 and you later change your mind, it's actually really easy to put it back. As we mentioned earlier, the underlying original photo still includes the location information, and the Photos app provides an option to restore it, in much the same way you can revert an edited photo back to its original version. Here's how:

Step 1: Open the Photos app and locate the photo for which you want to restore the original location information.

Step 2: Swipe up to bring up the detailed info screen.

Step 3: Tap Location Services.

Step 4: Tap the Add Location button below the other metadata.

how to remove location data from iphone photos in ios 13 15 revert photo
Jesse Hollington / Digital Trends

Step 5: Tap Revert in the "Adjust Location" screen that appears. You'll be returned to the photo detail screen and should see that the map view has returned, showing the original location where the photo was taken.

This features provides a handy way to temporarily hide location data for one or more photos when you plan to share them multiple times, but still want to keep it for your own reference. You can remove the location data, share the photos as much as you like without fear of exposing private location information, and then restore the original location info when you're done.

Note that while you can remove location data from multiple photos at once, as we described in the last step, you can't restore it that way — the "Revert" button won't appear when working with more than one photo. So, if you want to put the location data back later on, you'll need to do it for each photo individually.

how to remove location data from iphone photos in ios 13 15 photo map
Jesse Hollington / Digital Trends

Removing geolocation from photos in iOS 12

If you're using an older iPhone that's stuck on iOS 12 or older, you can still hide your geolocation from images you post to the public, although it requires a bit of forethought. Basically, you have to disable the storing of location data before you take the photos, since older iOS versions don't offer the on-the-fly removal that was introduced in iOS 13. Here's how to do it on iOS 12:

Step 1: Open your iPhone Settings app.

Step 2: Scroll down to find the Privacy selection and tap.

Step 3: Tap Location Services.

Step 4: Tap Camera.

Step 5: Tap Never.

This action prevents the Camera app from recording location information in your shot, and 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.

Note that this same method can also be used with recent iOS versions if you want to entirely avoid storing location data in your photos. After all, you can't accidentally share information that's not there in the first place.

There are also a few third-party apps that can be used to strip out location data from your photos, but you don't really need these as long as you're already using iOS 13, and sadly, many of them no longer work with older iOS versions. Since every iPhone released since 2015 can run iOS 13 through iOS 15, there aren't a lot of developers supporting older iOS versions.

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