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How to find out where the photo was taken

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

In this guide we will talk about

  • how to find out the GPS coordinates
  • where the photo was taken
  • how to manage the GPS settings
  • if necessary, disable this setting which obviously compromises your privacy. 

How to find out location by coordinates

Let's say you have the longitude and latitude. How can you easily find out 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
  3. Open a file in a photo viewer. For example, the built-in iPhone Photos app displays the information on the map in the Places section. You can also search on Google Maps and the exact location where the taken photo will be displayed. 

How to exclude location data saving in photos

Coordinates are handy not only for getting information about the place where the picture was taken, but also for organizing photos into categories. PC programs like Lightroom allow you to do this automatically. 

Of course, you can quickly disable coordinates properties. This is done primarily for security purposes: in fact, anyone can find out where and when you were, looking at the properties of the photo taken with a camera. So, let's figure out how to disable location properties. 

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. You can find it inside photos properties. In order to read the metadata, you need to look into the properties of the desired file to check GPS coordinates. 

Instructions for Windows 7 - 10:

  1. Right-click on the photo file, 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 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

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

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

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). 

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. 

Why GPS data is not available in photos

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 option. Saving of EXIT 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.