What Is EXIF Data? 3 Ways to Remove Metadata From Photos
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Did you know that most cameras embed hidden information (called metadata) into every photograph taken? And when you share those images—such as uploading them to social media—that hidden information can stay embedded in the photo? And that people can view that information for almost no effort?

That metadata is called EXIF data (Exchangeable Image File Format) and is mostly harmless… but in rare cases can be abused by malicious users and cause you problems.

Here’s everything you need to know about photo metadata and how to remove EXIF data when you don’t want that information to go public.

What Is EXIF Data?

Photography is complex and intensely technical with lots of things you need to know: exposure, lighting, composition, posing, etc. There’s so much to learn that even a genius would need several decades to master it all.

EXIF data is basically all of that technical information that gets stored in the photo file. By extracting and looking at an image’s EXIF data, you can see how that particular photograph was taken, which is a great way to study, learn, and improve your own photographic skills and knowledge.

EXIF data can include:

On the whole, EXIF data is actually well-intentioned, innocent, and practical. The problem is that certain devices may embed extra bits of data that can betray your personal privacy and security.

Consider a GPS-enabled, camera-equipped smartphone. When you shoot photos with your phone, those photos may be embedded with the GPS coordinates of where you took them. This can be great for geotagging your photos, but can also give away the location of your home to internet strangers if they find your photos on social media.

Consider a DSLR camera that you’ve been using for years. Not only can EXIF data include the manufacturer and model of your camera, but it may also include the camera’s serial number. If you ever share an iffy photo online, it can be traced back to your camera. It could also be used (theoretically) to find other photos on the internet that you’ve taken with that camera.

The NSA collects and analyzes EXIF data. It’s hardly a surprise today, but several years ago files were released that included training materials from the NSA’s XKeyscore program that showed how it aimed to use EXIF data (and other pieces of data) as part of intelligence collection.

Is it likely that EXIF data will stab you in the back? Probably not. But is the possibility always there? Yes. Unless you have an intentional reason to keep EXIF data, you should always consider removing it just in case.

Want to know how to remove image metadata? Here are some easy methods you can use to strip metadata, even if you have zero technical skills.

1. Remove EXIF Data With Windows File Explorer

Windows has a built-in method for clearing EXIF data from images and it couldn’t be more straightforward to use.

  1. Open File Explorer (Windows key + E shortcut).
  2. Navigate to your image.
  3. Right-click on your image and select Properties.
  4. Click the Details tab.

Windows 10 can detect two photography-related categories of EXIF data: “Camera” and “Advanced photo.” Camera data includes technical aspects like aperture, metering mode, and focal length. Advanced photo data includes serial number, white balance, EXIF version, etc.

At the bottom, as you can see in the screenshot above, you can click on Remove Properties and Personal Information to open the EXIF removal tool. The tool lets you either create a copy of the image with all metadata removed or pick and choose which properties to erase from the selected file.

exif-remove-windows-10

You can also select multiple images in File Explorer and use this process to remove metadata from all of them at once.

Note: One downside is that Windows 10 can’t (or won’t allow you to) remove every bit of EXIF data. I’m not sure why Microsoft kept this limitation in Windows 10, but if you need to absolutely nuke all EXIF data then you might be better off with one of the other two methods below.

2. Remove EXIF Data Using GIMP

GIMP is a free and open-source software that can easily strip EXIF data from an image. It may even be easier than the Windows 10 method above!

  1. Open GIMP.
  2. Open your image in GIMP.
  3. Go to File > Export As to export the image. Name it whatever you want, but make sure you give the image a JPG extension!
  4. Click the Export button.
  5. For export options, expand the Advanced Options panel and uncheck Save EXIF data.
  6. Change the other options to your liking, then click Export to finish.

exif-remove-gimp-step-1

exif-remove-gimp-step-2

The only downside is that batch removal is a nuisance with this method. You have to open all images and export them one by one, and even though it only takes about five seconds each, it’s pretty tedious.

Note: You could also do this using Photoshop instead of GIMP GIMP vs Photoshop: Which One Is Right for You? GIMP vs Photoshop: Which One Is Right for You? Photoshop is the most popular image editing app out there and GIMP is the best free alternative to it. Which should you use? Read More , but is it really worth buying Adobe Photoshop just to remove EXIF data? No. But if you have it, might as well use it!

3. Remove EXIF Data Using a Mobile App

If you take most of your photos on your phone, then it may make more sense to use an EXIF data removal app so you don’t have to involve your computer in the process.

Before you install a third-party app, first check your Camera app’s settings to see if you can disable EXIF data generation. Some camera apps may only let you disable location inclusion, while others may not allow you to disable EXIF data at all.

Still need an EXIF removal app? You can try Photo Metadata Remover for removing EXIF data on Android, or you can try Metapho to remove EXIF data on iPhone. Both are free to download, but Metapho requires an in-app purchase to unlock the ability to remove photo metadata, edit date and location, and share safely to social networks.

Download: Photo Metadata Remover for Android (Free)
Download: Metapho for iOS (Free, in-app purchase for metadata removal)

Other Photo Tips to Keep in Mind

When you’re choosing an online photo hosting service, consider picking one that automatically scrubs EXIF data. Make sure to check your social media settings, such as the photo privacy settings on Facebook.

EXIF data is just one way we’re all sharing too much data online.

While you’re at it, check out our article on photography skill-building exercises 7 Skill-Building Photography Exercises That Really Work 7 Skill-Building Photography Exercises That Really Work There are lots of exercises that can help "develop your photographic eye". Here are the most effective ones that we've found. Read More . You may also be interested in making money with your photography 5 Most Lucrative Careers for a Budding Photographer 5 Most Lucrative Careers for a Budding Photographer Want to make money with photography? There are a lot of potential career paths before you. Here are a few considerations to help you make the right choice. Read More , including the best places to sell your photos online The 14 Most Profitable Places to Sell Your Photos Online The 14 Most Profitable Places to Sell Your Photos Online Here are the best places to sell photos online when you've taken photos you think people would be willing to pay for. Read More .

Explore more about: EXIF Data, Metadata, Online Privacy, Photography.

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  1. Shavan P.
    October 5, 2018 at 11:36 pm

    FastStone image viewer which also functions a a full screen editor allows seemless batch conversions, renaming and also jpeg Metadata removal.

  2. Tom Bradley
    September 3, 2018 at 7:44 am

    All well and good but why should I have to invest my time to install/maintain an app to remove data that I never wanted added to begin with. Isnt there a camera app that won't add the metadata or at the very least allow you to set defaults for which data you want added? Forget geo tagging, I don't see why device info "must" be attached to photos. Is the serial number, make and model of my phone really needed to appreciate the image it is stamped on? It smacks of government snooping and invasion of privacy. Anyone know of a camera app that allows you to choose what info you allow to be added to every pic you take, as a default? This would mean I don't have to find apps and deal with the hassle of removing metadata, it just wouldn't be there from the get-go.

  3. Biggles
    May 6, 2018 at 6:00 am

    My tool of choice is Exif Tag Remover, because it can remove not only Exif tags but other privacy invading tags as well, an ever obfuscate the file date! Plus it has a batch mode that makes it easy to process 100:s of images in a single go. http://mail.rlvision.com/exif/

  4. Kevin Fitzmaurice-Brown
    May 4, 2018 at 9:58 pm

    The information you pass on is used by image stealers. I have found two if my imges used by people in thsi way. Both have been sued successfully for copyright infringement and fraud ! By removing exif data. If now always ask where they obtained the informatio on how to do this. If they point to you. I will include you in the legal action. I have passed this on the press and real professional photographers around the world through unions and clubs. We are sick of people like you who think you are clever.

    You are not.
    Regards
    Kevin

    • BloggerRadio
      June 17, 2018 at 7:14 pm

      Kevin,

      Good luck with that.
      No one gives a damn about YOUR images.
      This is about manipulating our own images.
      Lawyers are like arm-pits everyone has two and they both stink.

      BloggerRadio

  5. Diogene
    April 16, 2018 at 8:06 am

    you can simply use exiftool and exiftool GUI or Xnview the solution proposed on this article are only for people don't know how to use a computer.

  6. Indigo
    August 14, 2017 at 4:53 am

    hi, very interesting stuff. i'm wondering what other information can be gained from an image, such as, can you tell whether the image is an actual photograph, or if it's a photograph OF a photograph?

  7. D
    July 10, 2017 at 6:25 pm

    Just a note: When you say that [batches] are a problem with GIMP, there are possibilities. For example one of the best free plugins for GIMP is BIMP, which offers batch manipulation for GIMP and because it's all FOSS, is free and simple to get running.

  8. Xavier Lambre
    March 4, 2017 at 12:58 am

    Exif Eraser are great, but you have to remember to strip the GPS tags, one picture at a time. I recently found an app named "GPS Privacy" that automatically removes the GPS tags if pictures are taken in your home, school or any private place. You just set where your privacy areas are, and every time a picture is made within one of your areas, the GPS tags are removed.
    Hope this would be helpful for you as well!

  9. Jabber Wocky
    March 3, 2017 at 3:27 am

    The GIMP method doesn't seem to work. Tried it with two images from my phone and could still see all of the data.

  10. Patrick
    February 20, 2017 at 9:45 am

    "EXIF" and "metadata" are not two words for the same thing: EXIF is a particular instantiation of a metadata storage scheme, but metadata can be attached to photos in other ways. You should mention also removing XMP data, which is a separate metadata format (note in your screenshot that the GIMP gives you a separate option to include/remove that).

    EXIF and metadata are not

  11. rerawwaer
    December 14, 2016 at 9:32 pm

    I take a screenshot of the photo, and then upload the screenshot instead of the original photo. Does this remove EXIF data too? I hope so.

  12. Charles L
    April 4, 2016 at 5:16 pm

    I tried a few, and the best I found was Exif Tag Remover. It removes Exif metadata but also many other data formats that manufacturers add to my photos.

  13. Anonymous
    August 11, 2015 at 12:01 pm

    Metability FileMind QuickFix is available on CNET. http://download.cnet.com/FileMind-QuickFix/3000-12511_4-75563232.html

  14. Guy
    December 31, 2014 at 5:46 pm

    Metability QuickFix is not available any more. The free BatchPurifier Lite can be used instead to clean multiple photos.

  15. John Crumpton
    January 2, 2014 at 11:24 am

    THanks very helpful - had a hacked website which had base64 infection on the images hidden in the exif data.

  16. Dauphine
    November 18, 2013 at 4:22 am

    Thanks very much for writing this post. The program Metability QuickFix worked like a charm.

  17. Julian A
    September 12, 2013 at 7:11 pm

    I use Exif Pilot (for Windows). The free version strips data from photos one at a time, which is good enough for me as I only use it occasionally. There's a paid version will do the job in batches.

  18. Blackdog
    September 12, 2013 at 3:11 pm

    oh dry ya eyes & google it for your solution some ppl just got to whinge n whine about something. ..

  19. dragonmouth
    September 11, 2013 at 12:21 pm

    What about a Linux tutorial? Linux users take pictures, too.

    • Silvio
      January 9, 2014 at 5:56 pm

      I totally agree with the record manager, but unfortunately some TV sets (e.g. Sony) will not display your image in some cases unless metadata are stripped, for some very, very stupid reason.

  20. Uri
    September 10, 2013 at 5:55 pm

    Great tutorial, but I would love a OSX version :(

    • Braney
      September 10, 2013 at 6:38 pm

      No one uses OSX.

      • Duane
        August 8, 2017 at 9:38 pm

        Yeah, almost no one uses OSX except for, oh yeah, most commercial photographers...

      • Duane
        August 8, 2017 at 9:39 pm

        Yeah, no one uses OSX except for, oh yeah, most commercial and amatueur photographers I know...

    • Susan
      September 13, 2013 at 11:32 pm

      Press Command+i to open the file info.

      As a records manager and archivist in training I have only disappointment to lend to this conversation about erasing EXIF data. At least leave it on your originals - but not the ones you share online. We will enter an age of digital darkness before too long.

    • Silvio
      January 9, 2014 at 5:57 pm

      I totally agree with the record manager, but unfortunately some TV sets (e.g. Sony) will not display your image in some cases unless metadata are stripped, for some very, very stupid reason.

    • <zz
      December 10, 2014 at 9:30 pm

      assshole

    • <zz
      December 10, 2014 at 9:35 pm

      Erasing EXIF data: prevention is better than cure!

      Thanks for the thisk great tutorial :D

      Don't agree with silvio and susan, "We will enter an age of digital darkness before too long"? wut?