In 2012, John McAfee was located and arrested in Guatemala based on Exif data from a reporter’s photograph. While Exif originally wasn’t intended to be used as a tracking feature, Snowden’s revelations show that NSA is in fact collecting it in droves from everyone. So, what is Exif and why is it in pictures in the first place?
Exif is a set of information such as name of the owner of the camera, shutter speed, GPS coordinates and so on, embedded into a picture as it is taken by a digital camera . Initially, Exif was introduced as a way to help automatically tag and catalog pictures taken with high-end cameras, and wasn’t a problem until every cellphone started having a camera equivalent to yesteryear’s high-powered camera. It is trivially easy to remove Exif information without even knowing you did so, in fact, making any kind of change to a picture other than renaming it will scrub all Exif data it contained. So, what do your pictures tell about you? Here is a list of 10 software solutions for viewing Exif data.
Free Online Exif Viewers
This online Exif viewer has a clean interface and also shows the location where the picture was taken in Google Maps widget, based on Exif data. Find Exif does not accept files from your hard drive, it can only process images hosted on the Internet.
This website allows for viewing as well as removing Exif data from a picture. It works just fine with local images but requires that remote images be publicly available. Sadly, it can’t process pictures larger than 5 MB.
Free Exif Viewer Browser Addons
This addon will show some essential Exif data, if present, in a translucent layer at the bottom of the picture when it’s being moused over. Exify is limited to only showing camera model, focal length, aperture size and exposure time. Though, it has a big advantage of not having to right-click anything so you can go through dozens or hundreds of photographs in no time. Note that Exify won’t work if a file from your hard drive is opened in Firefox. You will have to upload an image to the Internet for it to work properly.
Similar in function to its Firefox counterpart but with much more information, Exif Viewer for Chrome works on images from the hard drive, if they are opened in Chrome, as well as online images.
Downloadable Exif Viewers
This program allows for reading of local images and supports Exif Specification 2.3. It can also edit some Exif fields, marked as blue in the program interface. Other than that, it has no additional features.
Details: For Windows; Free
ExifPro is the best photo organizer out there. Just one function it has, Transfer, makes this program worth having as it helps you easily rename huge amounts of pictures in an instant. ExifPro is free, easy to install and has an in-built Exif viewing functionality. Though the free version has no limitations, you can still register to show your appreciation to the creators.
Details: For Windows; Free with full features, $19.95 to register
This small application has only one function: displaying Exif information from digital pictures. It lacks any editing capability. This version fixes a small issue for SnowLeopard users. For Leopard users, it is recommended that they use 2.7 or older version of this program or they may run into compatibility issues. You can open files by drag&drop on the app icon or by using the open panel in the app itself.
Details: For Mac, requires OS X 10.6+; Free
This handy photo editor/viewer is loaded with useful tools wrapped in accessible interface. Open any picture in FastStone, double click on it to bring it to fullscreen and bring the mouse cursor to the right side of the screen to reveal Exif data, if any is present. It cannot edit or delete Exif data, though.
Details: For Windows; Free
Free Exif Viewer Apps for Android & iOS
This straightforward app allows you to view geo-specific data in any picture you’ve taken, along with other useful Exif tags. It only supports .jpg and .jpeg file formats. Remember that you need to enable the “Store location” feature of the phone before GPS coordinates can be embedded into a picture.
Details: For Android
Exif Wizard will display all Exif data from a photo in an easily understandable format. This app also allows you to use the native function of the iPhone’s Maps app to get direction to where the photo was taken, if the GPS data is present. Requires iOs 7.0 or higher.
Details: For iOS
Sample photos used in the software screenshots are taken from: