§ 45 - About EXIF

iToolBox is notable for its default lack of EXIF saving. It does read EXIF camera information in order that it may properly interpret RAW image files, and to retrieve camera-specific aperture, ISO, shutter speed and focal length from those RAW files. It will also report EXIF information for JPEG images in the Image information dialog.

This information is not written back out in EXIF format when you save a modified JPEG image unless you first check the  EXIF setting in the Preferences dialog.

There's a very specific reason for this, and it is that the fundamental design of the EXIF format is severely flawed, which can put your images, your privacy, and even your personal security at risk.

Wikipedia's EXIF article has a short discussion of the problems.

For those of a TL;DR; mindset, here's a quick list of EXIF's troubles:

  • EXIF provides for encryption and hiding of information; sharing may implicate you in a crime
  • EXIF encodes hidden, unique source device identity, leading to privacy and security compromise
  • EXIF silently encodes device location (GPS), leading to privacy and security compromise
  • EXIF thumbnails can get out of sync with the image data, leading to privacy and security compromise
  • Software can corrupt EXIF data simply because there's something new / different in the data
  • The 64k data limit in JPG breaks many EXIF implementations
  • EXIF time information is ambiguous
  • EXIF DPI information from a photo is baseless

Rather than blindly contribute to this mess, I've designed iToolBox to write out, by default, only image data you can see, edit, and otherwise manage safely. While you can certainly encrypt information contained in an output image with it, you can't hide that you have done so, consequently anyone using the application can see it, evaluate their risk(s), and act accordingly. The new image formats I've designed are able to contain tags you can't see and the program won't know about, but they are not read into the software, and any files you generate from such information will not contain that data.

If you enable  EXIF in the Preferences dialog, the resulting EXIF information that is written to new JPEG image files is similar to that which was associated with the original file; iToolBox does not add any information. Note that iToolBox will attempt to remove GPS and other extraneous information when it saves a file that incorporates EXIF information. This removal cannot be guaranteed to be effective; if you have a serious concern, set  EXIF to un-checked in the Preferences dialog. That will prevent any EXIF information from being written to saved JPEGs.

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