How to fix rotation problems with iPhone pictures

When I take a picture with my vertically-held iPhone, here is what happens when I insert it as-is in this blog:

Wrongly rotated iPhone picture

But the picture shows up correctly when I open it in any OSX application, such as Preview. The issue is that when you take a picture with your iPhone, a meta-data tag gets written to the file telling OSX how to rotate the picture when it is displayed. You can see the tag by using the inspector in Preview:

Inspector data for iPhone picture

The offender here is that Orientation tag, which seems to be used only by OSX applications. The best way to fix this is to remove the tag, rotate the picture correctly with Preview, and save it again.

To remove the tag, I recommend using a tool called ExifTool. It’s a neat command-line tool that you can download here. Once downloaded, removing the tag is a simple as this:

$ exiftool -Orientation= filename.jpeg

This replace filename.jpeg with the same file but with the tag removed, and save a copy of the original file as filename.jpeg.original. Give it a try, I really recommend it.

Author: David Lindelöf

David is currently Chief Technology Officer at Neurobat AG where he leads the development of smart, embedded systems for the energy-efficient control of indoor climate. He lives infinitesimally close to Geneva in Switzerland with his family.

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