How to Remove EXIF Data from Images on Mac Quickly

Dec 5, 2012 - 15 Comments

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.

Remove EXIF data from an image

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.

Removing All EXIF Data from Image Files

Here is all you need to do:

  1. Get ImageOptim free from the developer
  2. Launch ImageOptim and put it somewhere that offers easy visual access
  3. Drag the picture(s) you want to strip EXIF data from into the open app window to begin the EXIF removal process

Most images are optimized and stripped fairly quickly, but using this to remove EXIF from huge amounts of photos or very large resolution images may take a little while to complete.

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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Posted by: William Pearson in Mac OS X, Security, Tips & Tricks


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  1. Lester says:

    Or screenshot of you only have one or two pictures

  2. Robert says:

    You can also do this right on your iPhone, though you need an app. A good one that I use is deGeo. It’s simple and gets the job done quickly. You don’t want to be posting your GPS location every time you post an image to Twitter!

    • jetbird says:

      Facebook and Twitter strip the exif data to uploaded images so I dont think it should be a problem when thinking about posting your GPS location to these social sites.

  3. Alexander L says:

    hmmm… don’t see why people want to do this. Metadata tells everything about the picture, and though it’s not as compressed, I think it’s nice to know location, ISO, exposure and everything (Expecially because I’m using Lightroom 4 alot :) )

    • Aberto I says:

      I agree with you.
      These are the kind of info that you will surely need……
      ………once you removed them :D

    • Harper says:

      The reason people might want to do this is to remove sensitive information. Location is very sensitive, depending on the application, meaning if you’re sharing with family and friends, then it’s not a big deal but if you’re sharing it with the world, e.g. Internet, then you may not want to share a location with strangers. No doubt there are times when not having the EXIF attached to photos is more assuring, and there are times when having the information is handy. If you don’t see the two views, then carry on as you were…not sure why you’re even reading the article and commenting if you weren’t interested in the concept.

    • Visitor says:

      I have an Image I change yearly. When I put it back in Fotos it appears at 2012, where I first made it. In this case: annoying.

  4. blah says:

    It’s actually incorrect. Take a look at the help information:
    “Strip EXIF markers from files
    Removes image metadata, such as color profile, exposure time, GPS coordinates, camera model and name of software used to create the file. Metadata is never removed from JPEG files larger than 1.3MB.”

    If the JPEG is larger than 1.3MB, it won’t do a thing to the data.

  5. Pandanger says:

    Cool info. I’ll try the tool out. I wish you could just delete it from the more info tab.

  6. Rali says:

    Very helpful! Thanks!

  7. John Freier says:

    Awesome! Just what I was looking for, thanks much OSXD ;-)

  8. Lynn says:

    Someone’s note above gave me an idea – since Facebook strips out exif data, I just posted my photo to Facebook, and then resaved from Facebook – bingo! no exif data :)

  9. Dual says:

    I can find no way to strip exif data with this app WITHOUT adding another layer of compression. If you turn off all the jpg and png compression options the application does nothing to the files given to it.

    • BeeblePete says:

      This is my experience also. As I’m sending stripped files up into social networks (that will take their own potshots at the image quality) I just turned the compressor down low and let have its wicked way. An app that really JUST strips exif quickly would still be better.

      • BeeblePete says:

        Update, from the app’s help: “If lossy minification is off, optimization will be lossless. Pixels won’t change and optimizations will only remove invisible metadata. This gives larger files, but is safe to run on any file any number of times.”

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