Protect your privacy and turn geotagging off your smartphone photos
Did you know that when you take a photo with your smartphone and send it to someone, you are also sharing your exact location, too — all without your knowledge?
Yes, it’s true, and it’s called “geotagging.” By default, every photo you take with your iPhone or Android tags your GPS location and stores that data with your photo.
If you’re not interested in giving out your location when sharing photos, we suggest you turn this feature off to protect your privacy. Here’s how.
What is geotagging?
The photos you take with your smartphone store little bits of hidden information right inside the photo itself, called EXIF data or metadata. This information includes your phone’s make and model, the camera settings, the date and time that the photo was taken, and your GPS location.
This data can be very useful to help you organize your photos. Photo storage apps and online photo services can use this data to organize your photos, and help you better search your entire photo collection, say for that trip you took to Yosemite or your cousin’s birthday three towns away.
To look at the metadata data in your photos:
- On an iPhone, choose a photo in your Photos app > Tap the information button (the circle with an “i”).
- On Android, open a photo in the Google Photos app > Swipe up or tap the three dots in the top right corner.
So why would you want to disable geotagging?
In a word: privacy.
When you post a photo online or text one to a friend (or stranger), the image’s EXIF data, including your GPS location, may be sent along with the image.
There are a whole host of reasons why you may not feel comfortable sharing your location. Maybe you just met someone on a dating app and are trading photos. Do you want a near-total stranger to know your location just yet? Or, you’re posting photos from a protest and worried about making your location public in live-time. Or you just want to keep some privacy in an over-sharing online world.
Luckily, most social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram scrub this information when you post, but many other websites or services won’t — and your location data is accessible to anyone who can see your photo.
How to disable geotagging on your smartphone photos
Disabling geotagging is very easy, and you can always re-enable the feature whenever you want to preserve your location on your photos.
- On your iPhone, open Settings > tap Privacy > tap Location Services > tap Camera. Click “Never” to disable geotagging.
- On your Android device, open your Camera app > tap Settings (it may also be three horizontal lines or a gear image) > tap GPS (it also may be geo tag, location tag, location info) > and turn it off.