Remove EXIF data from an image

Photos taken with digital cameras, including the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch, all include some level of EXIF data, which is basically metadata with information about the image. With pictures taken from the iPhone and other smartphones, that data can even include details like precise geographic coordinates where the image was taken, (though that’s easy to disable), and overall that metadata can just make images more bloated than they need to be.

EXIF data is really easy to remove with the help of ImageOptim, a free Mac tool we’ve discussed before that compresses and optimizes images. In that process of optimizing a photo, ImageOptim also strips EXIF data from the picture. Here is all you need to do:

Strip EXIF data from a picture

That’s how easy EXIF is to remove, but if you want to be certain you can use OS X’s Preview app to double-check:

  • Open the image in question with Preview
  • Pull down the “Tool” menu and select “Show Inspector”
  • Click the (i) tab, there should be no “EXIF” tab, or the contents of the EXIF tag should be limited to only image dimensions with no other data stored

If you follow internet culture you probably already suspected this, but this post was spurred after talking with a friend about the truly bizarro ongoing saga of John McAfee, whose “secret” location was exposed because someone forgot to strip the EXIF data from the image or, perhaps easier, didn’t turn off Location data on the iPhone camera before they took the picture. I’m willing to bet that many people don’t realize EXIF data even exists, let alone that it can contain the precise coordinates of where a picture was taken, which are then easily discovered through Preview or a variety of online tools, so the the McAfee mishap is not too surprising.

Oh, and even if you’re not looking to strip EXIF from pictures before posting them online, ImageOptim is a great tool that’s worth getting for it’s compression features alone.

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