How to make sure your Android photos don’t reveal locations

Most smartphones can pinpoint the current location using GPS or other means. On Android, this feature can be turned on or off depending on the default preference to either allow or block it.

Some applications require location services for some or all of its features. This is for instance the case for Foursquare or Google Maps.

While handy at times, it is disliked by some users because of its drain on the battery and privacy implications.

To find out whether location services are enabled or not, swipe down from the notification bar at the top on your Android phone and tap on the quick settings button at the top right.

This displays options to turn important features such as WiFi, Bluetooth or Location services on or off.

android location services

The first requirement that needs to be met to add location information to photos taken on Android is that location services are enabled on the device.

You can check whether that is the case by opening the menu as outlined above.

Even if location services are enabled, it does not necessarily mean that location information are added to photos you take on the device as the feature needs to be enabled in the photo app as well before that is the case.

You can do that by opening the photo app on the device and opening the options of it. How that is done depends on the app and device you are using. On my Moto G, you swipe from the left to the right to display the photo settings while you may find a menu button displayed there at all time on other devices.

Find the location setting there and check whether it is enabled or not. If it is turned off and if your device's location settings are turned off, you are reminded that you need to enable it first before you can enable the feature in the photo app.

If it is enabled, you can turn it on or off here right away.

This means that if you turn off the location feature of your phone or tablet, that geo-tagging will automatically be disabled on it regardless of the setting in the photo application itself.

Side Tip: To check whether individual files are geo-tagged, open the photo on your Android device in the photos app, click on the menu button and there on details to display whether that is the case.

check photo geotagging

As you can see on the screenshot above, the photo reveals the location where it was taken. Once you disable geo-tagging either in the photo app or the location feature completely, all future photos that you take won't reveal it anymore.

Now Read: Remove identifiable information from Android photos before sharing

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Article Name
How to make sure your Android photos don't reveal locations
Description
Photos that you take on your Android device may reveal the location they were taken in. The guide walks you through the steps of verifying if that is the case.
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Responses to How to make sure your Android photos don’t reveal locations

  1. CHEF-KOCH September 14, 2014 at 4:00 pm #

    Not good, imho. Better is to install Xposed Installer + AppOps module (only non installer needs root) and disable the whole system position service (all other apps can be enabled) and if you really need it enable it again, so there is only one switch you have to enable/disable instead of many. Saves also massive battery life.

    Under windows I'm using exiftool + gprsprune but didn't found an app for android yet that does the same, remove the exif/gprs information.

  2. Antony September 15, 2014 at 12:15 pm #

    To capture GPS data, it is necessary that the mobile phone is connected to the internet (with GPS tag enabled in the camera app). It is not necessary that the generic location service is enabled (on the Quick menu), you just need to be active the gps tag in the camera app settings, and connect the phone to the internet. The GPS data will be written to the photo file. Tested on Samsung Galxy Core Plus.

  3. Xavier Lambre March 25, 2017 at 11:02 pm #

    Hi,
    In regard to your discussion, I would recommend an android phone application that is quite useful for the purpose. I use an app named “GPS Privacy” that automatically deletes the GPS location tags if the photo is taken in a privacy area – like around your home, school, work, etc. This way you don’t have to remember whether you have the GPS tags on or off. Simply define your privacy areas, and your pictures won’t have GPS coordinates when made in these zones
    https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.shumoapp.gpsprivacy&hl=en
    Hope this would be helpful for you as well!

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