iOS 13 lets you strip location data when sharing photos

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iOS 13 keeps your location private.
iOS 13 keeps your location private.
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

When you send a photo to somebody in iOS 12 or earlier, you also share that photo’s location. If you upload a picture to a classified ad or auction site, you potentially show everyone exactly where you live. And if you send a photo to a friend or family member, they may share that image publicly (on Facebook, for instance) — and share your home address along with the picture.

In iOS 13, you can disable location sharing for any photo you share. Some annoying limits hurt this new feature, and you have to remember to do it every time you share an image or video, but it’s still a lot better than what we have in iOS 12.

iOS 13 location sharing

Tap 'Options' to get to the new privacy feature in iOS 13 Photos.
Tap “Options” to get to the new privacy feature in iOS 13 Photos.
Photo: Cult of Mac

Here’s the new photo-sharing panel in iPadOS. If you tap on the Options button up there at the top, you’ll see this new panel:

The iOS 13 photo-sharing settings panel.
The iOS 13 photo-sharing settings panel.
Photo: Cult of Mac

This is actually a great set of options, all in one place. First, though, let’s talk about location privacy. As you can see, there’s a simple switch to toggle location data on and off. Switch this off to share your photos and videos with their location data removed.

Unfortunately, this setting must be changed every single time you share photos. If you share a batch, you can switch location off for that batch in one go. But there’s no way to permanently disable location sharing. I almost never want to share the location with my photos, so I’d prefer that this toggle stayed off until I explicitly tell my iPhone to give away my location.

(Pro tip: If you want more control, or if you want to remove the location from an image permanently, you can use Metapho, an app for viewing and wrangling all photo metadata, including location data.)

Other new photo-sharing options in iOS 13

iOS 13’s new sharing options panel includes a few other goodies, too. One is the option to send an image as either a photo (as you would expect) or as an iCloud link. The latter is excellent if the photo is already in your iCloud Photo Library, because you don’t need to expend any data to send it. Or rather, much less data.

However, sending an iCloud link will include location data. Currently there’s no way to disable that.

At the top of this panel, you'll see a summary of the sharing options.
At the top of this panel, you’ll see a summary of the sharing options.
Photo: Cult of Mac

The other option is called Full Original Capture. This sends the full original image, instead of creating a JPEG or other compatible image, and sending that instead. This works over AirDrop and via iCloud link sharing, and it includes any edits that you have made, in a full-reversible fashion. This is quite amazing, but it could also be dangerous — if you cropped out your naked lower half from an otherwise fully-dressed portrait, for example. The good news is that this is opt-in for every photo you share.

This is the option to use if you are sending photos between your own devices. Or perhaps you want to share full-res photos with a friend or colleague. I actually thought that AirDrop always shared full-res originals, and maybe it does pre-iOS 13. (If you know more about this, please let me know.)

Like iCloud link sharing, Full Original Capture includes location data.

Limitations

I’d prefer to be able to set these options once, and have them stick until I change them back. I’d also like to be able to access these options from anywhere, not just from inside Apple’s Photos app. For instance, when you use eBay’s classified ads app, you use a photo-picker inside the app to upload images. The option to remove location data should live inside the photo-picker, too.

This is yet another of the nice little tweaks in iOS 13 and iPadOS, many of which we’re still discovering. And we’ll keep writing about them as we find them.