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How to find where a photo was taken by its GPS coordinates

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How to find a location using the GPS coordinates of a photo, best apps to check where the photo was taken, how to manage the GPS settings or disable saving location data on Android phone.

Mobile devices on iPhone and Android have the ability to store location information when you take a photo with the camera. The file contains EXIF information with the GPS coordinates of the place.

What is EXIF data?

EXIF data include various information such as:

  • camera model
  • mobile device and its type
  • shooting parameters (shutter speed, aperture, ISO),
  • geolocation.

Let's say you have the longitude and latitude of a location on Earth. How can you easily find your location on a map?

  1. It is convenient to use services mentioned in the review.
  2. The second option is to use mobile applications for Android / iOS. Open a file in the built-in iPhone Photos app displays the information on the map in the Places section.
  3. You can also use the search bar on Google Maps to find the exact location where the taken photo will be displayed.

How to disable saving location data in photos

Coordinate data is handy not only for getting information about the place where the picture was taken, but also for organizing photos into categories. Desktop programs like Adobe Lightroom allow you to do this automatically.

Of course, you can quickly disable saving location data. This is done primarily due to security purposes; anyone can discover where and when you were at that location by looking at the properties of the photo taken with a camera. So let's figure out how to disable saving location data.

On the iPhone:

  1. Go to Settings > Security > Location Services > Camera
  2. Move the Allow Location Access slider to the Never position.

This prevents your phone's camera from accessing the GPS settings and from controlling location properties.

For Android 10-11 and later:

  1. Go to Settings > Location.
  1. Location > App Permissions.
  1. For the Camera app, set the Location access to Deny.

Where the photo properties and coordinates are stored

Information about the coordinates is embedded in metadata, which can be found in photo properties. In order to read the metadata, check the properties of the desired file.

Instructions for checking GPS coordinates on Windows 7 - 10:

  1. Right-click on the photo file, and open the context menu.
  2. Go to Properties.
  1. Open the Details tab.
  2. Find the Longitude and Latitude settings in the GPS section.

Instructions for Mac OS:

  1. Ctrl + click on the image file.

  2. Open the Get info via the context menu.

  1. The Details section displays the exact location when the photo was taken (Latitude / Longitude in particular).

In the case of a HEIC file, you should use a converter app in order to save JPG and open the photo on your computer.

Viewing EXIF metadata for GPS data: the best apps

  1. ExifTool is the software available for Mac and Windows for free. It works with most popular media formats, including photos and video, and extracts GPS data from the EXIF. There are a dozen other useful features.

  2. ExifTool is a mobile application for Android. It uses the same library as the aforementioned program. Using EXIF you can extract GPS coordinates saved by digital or phone camera.

  1. https://www.metadata2go.com/ is a free online service for getting all the metadata embedded in a photo.

How to use metadata2go to find GPS coordinates:

  1. Upload a photo.
  2. Press the "Start analyzing file" button.
  1. You will get the coordinates (if the photo has them).

Why GPS data is not always available in photos

Sometimes even when a phone is set to save location data, a photo may not have it in its current location. This can be caused by a few different actions.

The location data may have disappeared from the final file if the photo was saved multiple times. This happens when the converter does not save coordinate data or the user deliberately disabled storing additional metadata options. Saving of EXIF information is possible in Photoshop, Lightroom or any image viewer. Online services also prefer to delete confidential information in both the original copies and the thumbnails.