Why Are Some of My iPhone Photos Missing Geotag GPS Locations?

Posted by: The Photo Investigator 3 years, 10 months ago

Now that geotags are so common, it can be upsetting to see that some pictures don't have them when they should.  Here I'll talk about why this may be, and how to find and fix the issue.

Turning on iOS Geotagging

Of course, to enable geotagging of pictures taken by the iPhone Camera app, you have to have the correct settings.  In the Settings app, you have to go into Privacy -> Location Services and enable Camera (the switch should be green).  With this enabled, every picture you take in the built in Camera app _should_ be geotagged.

Why Geotagging Can Fail

Nonetheless, sometimes the geotagging fails.  The iOS camera app does the best it can, and it has been improving.  It used to be that if you didnt have cell service, it would not geotag (although GPS should only rely on satellites).  Now it seems to be able to geotag without cell reception, most of the time.  

However, if the phone can't fix a GPS location, no photos will be geotagged.  To determine your location, the phone needs to either use the GPS positioning, or a Wifi signal.  If you're on WiFi, this is enough information because companies have created databases linking WiFi networks to GPS locations, by driving around and sampling signals.  For the GPS positioning to work, the phone must be able to get signal from multiple GPS satelites.  If you're surrounded by large builidings, thick walls, or are underground, then GPS positioning probably won't work.  If you have any pictures in a cave you can see this.

Finding and Adding Missing Geotags

If you want to scroll through your pictures and see a globe over pictures with a Geotag (free), check out this tutorial.

To add a geotag to a photo, you can also use the Photo Investigator.  This tutorial shows how to add a geotag to a picture on iPhone or iPad.