Automatically Geotag Pictures with Droid

by Chris Guld,

First, just what is geotagging?  It’s attaching the latitude and longitude coordinates to a picture, a .jpg file, so it can be placed on a map in the location where it was taken.  When a photo is geotagged, these coordinates are part of the ‘metadata’ embedded in the file itself, just like the date and time where it was taken.

Picasa displays Geotagged pictures in ‘Places’

In the screenshot of Picasa below, you can tell which pictures have been geotagged by the little red balloon icon in the lower right of the picture.  If you open up the ‘Places’ pane, you will see the markers on the map.  Click on a marker, and you’ll see the picture.


We all take for granted that the date and time of a photo is stored with the photo.  Someday (soon) we will also take for granted that the place of a photo is also automatically stored with the picture.


Manual Geotagging

In previous articles I’ve written about how you can manually geotag a photo. They’ve, made it pretty easy, but it’s still something that takes a bit of time and thought.  For me, I’m just too lazy to make the effort.  But, if it can be done automatically, now that’s a different story!  I’d love to be able to see all my travel pictures pinned to the spot on the map where they were taken.  And now I can, as long as I take the picture with my Droid cell phone.

How Droid does Geotagging

I have the Motorola Droid cellphone from Verizon.  Other devices have this capability, but Droid is what I know.  You see, in addition to being a phone, and a camera, the Droid is also a GPS receiver.  It knows exactly where it is, so it can stamp the pictures taken with that information if you turn the setting on.

You’ll find the setting on the camera app.  Touch the menu option: image then ‘Settings’ and finally ‘Store Location’ and touch ‘Yes.’  From now on, when you take a picture with the Droid, it will include the location.  When you import that onto your computer and view it with Picasa, you will see the little red balloon and, if you open the Places pane, you’ll see the picture in place.  Here’s a little video:

I’ve even been known to snap a photo at a location when I’m not really taking it for the picture, I’m just taking it for the location.  I can later use that picture on the map to navigate back to the same spot.

Other methods to Auto-Geotag

The Droid isn’t the only device that will auto-geotag photos.  Other cell phone/cameras have a similar capability and you can also buy SD cards to Geotag. If you use any of these methods, please leave a comment and tell us about it.


One reply

  1. As you would probably guess, the iPhone has geotaged it’s photos by default since the introduction of the GPS on the 3G model. These tags can of course be read by Picasa or iLife as well as Aperture and the latest version of Lightroom (3). I am not sure why this feature is not on by default in the Droid – I cannot think of a reason not to have it on. I have also been using a Eye-Fi SDHD card ( in my camera which automatically adds geotagging info via wifi while in use. This has some limitations, but is reasonably priced option for cameras without built-in geotagging. Sony has a new point and shoot that is the first camera with a built in (as opposed to an accessory) GPS for geotagging. I think that this is destine to become the next must have feature in digital cameras. The iPhone also has an App for creating geotag tracks which can be used to update photos that were taken without geotags. Now someone is going to ask,”who needs geotagging?”. Only us geeks today, tomorrow, everyone.

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