How to remove personal data from image files

Every digital camera is different, but nearly all of them add at least some personal data to the pictures you take. For most users (and most uses), this isn't a big deal, but sometimes you're better off stripping the date, time, place or other info from a picture before sharing it. Windows makes it simple to do so; learn how in this blog post by Rob Lightner.

It turns out that in the Age of Sharing, a picture is worth a thousand data points--but you can strip out some or all of those identifying bits before posting or otherwise sharing your pics online. Maybe you don't want strangers to know the GPS coordinates of your home pics, or maybe you'd rather the boss not know that you used that sick day to prepare for (or recover from) a big pub crawl. In any case, it's almost absurdly easy to remove that info using Windows Explorer. Here's how: 

  • Gather the pics you want to protect in one folder. This isn't strictly necessary, but it does make your life much easier. 
    Step 1: Select all image files.
    Step 1: Select all image files.
  • Select them all, then right-click and select "Properties." 
    Step 2: Image properties
    Step 2: Image properties
  • Select the "Details" tab, then click on "Remove Properties and Personal Information." 
    Step 3: Remove properties.
    Step 3: Remove properties.
  • If you want to remove all possible info, just click "OK" to create a set of copies identical in every way except for the identifying information. 
  • If you'd rather choose which info to keep and which to delete, select "Remove the following properties from this file" at the top and then scroll down the list to select the info you want to remove, then click "OK." This does not create a copy, so preserve the information externally if you think you'll want it later! 

If you like, you can also work with individual files to remove different data points from each one. There's little reason to keep this info on shared files unless you're a pro or are collaborating on a joint photo project, so it's a good idea to strip that info before you share. While you're at it,  check out this video  on disabling mobile geotagging to save you some time in the future.

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Tech Culture
About the author

    Rob Lightner is a tech and gaming writer based in Seattle. He has reviewed games, gadgets, and technical manuals, written copy for space travel gear, and composed horoscopes for cats.

     

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