Ever import or email a photo taken with your iPhone, only to find it upside down on your computer?
It’s actually a common complaint that’s been around ever since Apple made it possible to take photos using your iPhone’s volume buttons in iOS 5.
But there’s a reason for it.
Apple decided that when you capture a photo with the volume buttons facing skyward, like most people do since we’re used to camera shutter buttons being on top, this is actually upside down.
Apple also wants to keep the process of capturing and saving a photo to be as fast as possible so you can keep snapping away. To keep things speedy, rather than re-orient the photo and devote processing time to that action, your iPhone actually just saves your photo and includes the correct orientation in the photo’s EXIF metadata, according to iPhonePhotographySchool.
It may sound complicated, but basically your iPhone photos do contain information on the correct orientation, but it’s recorded in the photo’s metadata, which not all photo viewing programs recognise.
Luckily, if you’re using one of Apple’s programs to view your photo such as iPhoto or Preview, these programs will recognise the orientation metadata and you won’t notice any issues. Most Mac programs are like this.
The issue arises once you email your photo or open it in Windows using something like Windows Photo Viewer, which won’t always recognise the metadata.
There’s been plenty of argument over who is truly at fault here. Is it Apple for failing to define the iPhone as “right-side up” when the volume buttons face upward (seriously, who takes pictures with the volume buttons facing down)? Or is it the fault of photo viewing programs that don’t read the metadata?
Thankfully, it’s becoming less of an issue thanks to Windows 8 and other Windows photo viewing applications now paying attention to the EXIF metadata.
If you’re stuck with an earlier version of Windows or your favourite photo viewing program, there’s a few fixes you can try.
The easiest is just to take pictures with the volume buttons facing downward, which sidesteps the problem entirely but is still plenty annoying. Another option is to use a third-party app like Camera+ that also records orientation so you don’t have to worry about the EXIF metadata.
It’s not a perfect fix, but hopefully these options will keep you sane while you wait for either Apple to change its definition of right-side up or the rest of your photo viewing programs to catch up.
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