How to Decode Geolocations of Pictures


If you have ever looked back on one of your photos and wondered where it was taken, there may be a way to find the answer. In our increasingly connected world, many modern cameras as well as smartphones have GPS capabilities. Photos taken with these devices are typically encoded with geotags, which record the location of the photo. You can find this information in the photo's Exchangeable Image File data.

  • Upload to your computer the photos with the geolocations you want to find.

  • Open the photo in an online service or software that can read and display photo metadata. Photo editing programs like Photoshop, as well as some online photo storage sites, like Flickr, will display the metadata for each photo.

  • Locate the metadata information for a photo and look to see if the photo has any EXIF (Exchangeable Image File format) data. Location data will be saved as GPS coordinates in the EXIF format if there is any recorded on the photo. GPS coordinates are represented by two strings of numbers, separated by a comma. For example, "32.738433,-117.15178" are the GPS coordinates for San Diego Zoo.

  • Enter the GPS data into an online mapping website, like Google Maps or Mapquest, to create a map showing where in the world the GPS point is located.

  • Upload your photos to an online photo management site to check large batches of your photos for location data. Websites like Flickr will automatically recognize this information and create maps to accompany any photos with location data attached.

Tips & Warnings

  • Activate or deactivate photo geolocation functions in the settings or tools menu of your smartphone or camera .

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  • Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Goodshoot/Getty Images
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