Mind Candy

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How to stop iPhone geotagging of photos and videos

Posted by mandyf on July 12, 2012

If you don’t yet know why it is important to disable geotagging on your iPhone, you will quickly learn why, and more importantly you will learn how to do it. Most people never consider a feature like geotagging can be dangerous, get them busted, or just give away more about their personal life than they want the world to know. If you value protecting your privacy, geotagging is not your friend.

Geotagging is an iPhone feature that comes into play when you use the camera. When you take a picture with your iPhone, the photo is stamped with metadata. While few people care much about a date/time stamp, what many get riled about is the latitude and longitude being included in that metadata. It may be no big deal to you if you snap photos and store it until you get home and transfer them to your computer, but if you are like so many that use social networking sites in real time it can be a big problem.

Take for instance the example of snapping a picture one Friday night and then sending it to your Facebook account. Anyone that can see that photo can tell exactly where you are and when the photo was taken just from the metadata. If you have a creepy stalker – they know where you are. If someone is hacking accounts in their area and can see you are 80 miles away from home – they know your house is empty. Even kids have gotten busted this way by their parents when the pulled the “sleeping over at Suzy’s” scam and then bolted for a rave. All are real examples of things that actually happened from people knowing how to read the metadata on photos using nothing more than a simple free to download graphic editor.

If you want to stop geotagging of your iPhone photos, it is fortunately very simple. You are supposed to (but it does not always ask) see a message when you take a photo with your iPhone which reads:

“Camera Would Like To Use Your Current Location – Photos and videos will be tagged with the location where they were taken.”

Underneath that, there are two options, “Don’t Allow” and “Okay.” If you do not want the photos retagged, just choose “Don’t Allow.” The problem is, that does not always stop the iPhone from geotagging. Sometimes it will not geotag the first photo, but then geotag the rest. Sometimes it will geotag the photo or video you just told it not to. What do you do then?

To avoid geotagging for 100% sure, go to “Settings”, then choose “General.”  Once you get to the general list, choose “Location Services.” It should be the fourth option down the list right after you see “Bluetooth.” Once you choose location services, every app on your iPhone that has the ability to geotag will be listed. Anything you want to be disabled from geotagging you need to stop by choosing the “Off” selector. Keep in mind however that some apps may not run properly without geotagging, so if you are in doubt check the specs for any you are unsure of.


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