When you take a digital photo, you are taking more than just the photo. You are also capturing a whole range of personally identifiable information which could compromise your privacy if it ever fell into the wrong hands. That information is called EXIF metadata and a lot of people don't even realize that this data is embedded inside their images. The good news though is that it can be easily removed with a program such as ExifCleaner (£12.59, 30-day free trial). See all Software reviews.
What kind of information are we talking about? Well it can range from the mundane such as the make and model of the camera that took the picture, the picture resolution, the light source, and so on. But it can also be as serious as where you took the photo and what date you took it, and this information may be preserved when you post a photo online. So anyone looking to track you down knows where you are in the world, and anyone wanting to tie you to a specific place at a specific time only has to look at the EXIF data. This can be particularly serious for people who live in oppressive regimes, journalists and bloggers looking to protect a source, and whistleblowers who want to keep their identity secret. See all software downloads.
This is where EXIFcleaner comes in to protect your anonymity, removing this data with only a few clicks of your mouse.
After installing the software, you can load images either individually, or you can load an entire folder (useful if you have a lot of photos needing to be cleaned). If you want to configure your image cleaning and decide what gets wiped and what doesn't, click on "clean setup". There you will be able to either state that everything gets wiped or just selective EXIF details. So it isn't an all-or-nothing kind of deal--you decide what goes and what stays.
You can also decide whether the app places a cleaned duplicate of the photo in the folder, or whether the app overwrites the original photo with a cleaned version. ExifCleaner doesn't recommend the overwriting option in case there are problems when writing the file out again (as you might lose the original file), but I have found this option to be completely problem-free. Plus it means you then don't have to sit there and manually delete all the old unwiped photos.
Once you have made your selections and you're all ready to go, click "quick clean" and watch each of your photos get cleaned. The process is really fast. When it's finished, click on a photo and look in the right hand EXIF data column; you'll see that everything is indeed gone as promised.
For those of you who don't like to install apps, there is a portable version of ExifCleaner instead, which doesn't need to be installed to run, and leaves no traces. And although, at £13, the software isn't that cheap, it's a good buy if you really have to preserve your privacy through your photos.