Stripping Image Metadata with exiftool

· 306 words · 2 minutes

Why Strip Metadata?

Okay, so you want to strip metadata from your photos. Perhaps you take pictures of very rare birds and the location metadata is a gold mine for poachers - or perhaps you're just privacy-oriented like me and prefer to strip metadata from publicly-available images.

There are various components of image metadata that you may want to delete before releasing a photo to the public. Here's an incomplete list of things I could easily see just by inspecting a photo on my laptop:

Regardless of your reasoning, I'm going to explain how I used the exiftool package in Linux to automatically strip metadata from all images in a directory (+ subdirectories).

Installing exiftool

First things first: we need to install the tool. I'm running Debian 11 on my server (Ubuntu will work the same), so the command is as simple as:

sudo apt install exiftool

There are different tools that can accomplish the same thing across distributions, but I really only care to test out this one package.

Recursively Strip Data

I actually use this tool extensively to strip any photos uploaded to the website that serves all of the images for my blog (img.cleberg.net).

The following command is incredibly useful and can be modified to include any image extensions that exiftool supports:

exiftool -r -all= -ext jpg -ext png /path/to/directory/

See below for the results of my most recent usage of exiftool after I uploaded the image for this blog post. You can see that the command will let you know how many directories were scanned, how many images were updated, and how many images were unchanged.

exiftool results