Whenever you take a photo, certain hidden information is included in it. The image collects what is known as metadata. And did you know that when you share all those photos on your social networks, that information is also shared?
Before we begin, let’s clarify something: in principle, metadata is totally harmless. Although, yes, there can always be someone who knows how to use this information to harm you in one way or another. Therefore, in many cases, it is usually best to delete them and get rid of them directly. Something quite logical on the other hand, right?
What is the metadata of an image exactly?
You can also refer to it as the EXIF data of an image. The acronym corresponds to “Exchangeable Image File Format” or “Interchangeable Image File Format” and its function, basically, is to collect technical information from an image or photograph.
For practical purposes, the EXIF data for an image includes information like this:
- Camera brand and model.
- Date and Time.
- Image compression type, resolution, and bit depth.
- Maximum aperture, flash intensity, ISO speed, and exposure time.
- Origin of the image, authors, Copyright.
At first, this information seems harmless enough. It also helps you to claim your copyright in case someone steals a photo from you. Not bad.
The problem is that some devices allow you to add other additional information to the images. For example, when you take a photo with the mobile camera with the location service or GPS activated and upload it to Facebook, or Instagram.
In this case, the image can collect your geolocation. Someone who wants to give you a hard time, can analyze the metadata and identify the city or even the house where you live. This doesn’t sound so good anymore, does it?
To give you an idea of how easy it is to discover the location of a photograph:
- Install an app to edit metadata on your mobile, such as Photo EXIF Editor. It’s free and available on Google Play.
- Open the EXIF editor that you just installed and load the photo you want to analyze.
- In the image details, you will see a field that indicates the geolocation of the image.
It’s that simple and without the need for technical knowledge of any kind.
How to erase all EXIF metadata from an image or photo
Imagine that you have a DSLR camera and that you have been taking pictures with it for years. Anyone who has a digital copy of any of your photos will be able to see the make and model of your camera and even its serial number in some cases. With this, you can track and compare the rest of your photos on the Internet, or even know your tricks as a photographer.
The American NSA has also confessed that they use metadata as a source of information and identification of people, something that should undoubtedly make us reflect on how far our privacy goes. But let’s get to what matters, how do you get rid of the damn metadata?
Clearing metadata from Windows Explorer
If you have a PC with Windows 10 (or earlier versions), deleting metadata can be done really easily. You don’t need to install any program. Just locate the image and follow the following steps:
- Right-click on the image and click on “Properties “.
- Move to the ” Details ” tab. This is where the image metadata is displayed.
- To delete all EXIF data, click on “Remove properties and personal information.”
- A new window will open. In it, the option ” Create a copy with all possible properties removed ” will be marked. If you select “Accept“, the aforementioned copy will be created with all metadata removed.
- If, on the other hand, you mark ” Remove the following properties … ” you can selectively choose the metadata that you do not want to appear in the image.
If you use an image editor you also have it easy
If you work with image editors, you will also be able to filter the metadata that you store in a simple way.
In Photoshop we only have to select the entire image ( Ctrl + E or Ctrl + A ), copy it, and paste it into a new document. This new document will not save any of the original image metadata. You can check it from ” File -> File information.”
For other editing programs such as GIMP, simply export the desired image to JPG format. Once you are in the export window, you will uncheck the tab ” Advanced options -> Save EXIF data.”
How to delete the metadata of a photo from the mobile
The most normal thing is that most of the photos you take with a mobile phone. For this reason, it is much more practical in some cases to erase the metadata directly from the smartphone.
Some cameras allow deleting of certain data, such as the location, in the case of Xiaomi. Others offer more settings, and most smartphones simply don’t allow you to restrict anything when it comes to EXIF data.
The most effective is undoubtedly to use a third-party app to delete metadata. On Android, we have several applications, such as the aforementioned Photo EXIF Editor or EXIF Toolkit. For iPhone users, we find the Metapho app.
How to clear metadata for multiple images at once
If you have trouble individually removing metadata from your image collection, the easiest thing to do is use BatchPurifier Lite.
This Windows application allows you to delete the metadata of several JPEG images in one go. It is a freeware tool and very easy to use, so its use is highly recommended.
In short, if you are thinking of gaining a little more privacy and ensuring the integrity of the information you upload to your RRSS, nothing better than to paste a good clean to the metadata of the photos that you share over the Internet. It is not a question of becoming paranoid, but a little caution never hurts.
How to clear photo metadata on Mac
If you have an Apple computer with a macOS system, the process is a bit more complicated than in Windows. Macs allow you to natively erase an image’s metadata, but only those related to location. If you want to delete any other metadata you will have to install a third-party application such as ImageOptim.
- Open the image from your Mac in Preview mode.
- Select « Tools -> Show Inspector «.
- Click on the information tab (i).
- Click on the ” GPS ” tab and select ” Clear location information.” Note: If there is no GPS tab, it means that the photograph does not have this data registered.
To remove other metadata from the photograph, you can install the ImageOptim program, which is free and available to download from its official website.