Problem setting exif data for an image

I'm using the new ImageIO framework in iOS 4.1. I successfully retrieve the exif metadata using the following:

CFDictionaryRef metadataDict = CMGetAttachment(sampleBuffer, kCGImagePropertyExifDictionary , NULL);

Reading it out, it appears valid. Saving an image out works, but there is never any exif data in the image.

    CGImageDestinationRef myImageDest = CGImageDestinationCreateWithURL((CFURLRef) docurl, kUTTypeJPEG, 1, NULL);

    // Add the image to the destination using previously saved options. 
    CGImageDestinationAddImage(myImageDest, iref, NULL);

    //add back exif
    NSDictionary *props = [NSDictionary dictionaryWithObjectsAndKeys:
                            [NSNumber numberWithFloat:.1], kCGImageDestinationLossyCompressionQuality,
                           metadataDict, kCGImagePropertyExifDictionary, //the exif metadata


    CGImageDestinationSetProperties(myImageDest, (CFDictionaryRef) props);

    // Finalize the image destination. 
    bool status = CGImageDestinationFinalize(myImageDest);


The following blog post is where I got my answer when I had issues with modifying and saving Exif data Caffeinated Cocoa. This works on iOS.

Here is my test code for writing Exif and GPS data. It pretty much a copy and paste of the code from the above blog. I am using this to write exif data to a captured image.

NSData *jpeg = [AVCaptureStillImageOutput jpegStillImageNSDataRepresentation:imageDataSampleBuffer] ;

CGImageSourceRef  source ;
    source = CGImageSourceCreateWithData((CFDataRef)jpeg, NULL);

    //get all the metadata in the image
    NSDictionary *metadata = (NSDictionary *) CGImageSourceCopyPropertiesAtIndex(source,0,NULL);

    //make the metadata dictionary mutable so we can add properties to it
    NSMutableDictionary *metadataAsMutable = [[metadata mutableCopy]autorelease];
    [metadata release];

    NSMutableDictionary *EXIFDictionary = [[[metadataAsMutable objectForKey:(NSString *)kCGImagePropertyExifDictionary]mutableCopy]autorelease];
    NSMutableDictionary *GPSDictionary = [[[metadataAsMutable objectForKey:(NSString *)kCGImagePropertyGPSDictionary]mutableCopy]autorelease];
    if(!EXIFDictionary) {
        //if the image does not have an EXIF dictionary (not all images do), then create one for us to use
        EXIFDictionary = [NSMutableDictionary dictionary];
    if(!GPSDictionary) {
        GPSDictionary = [NSMutableDictionary dictionary];

    //Setup GPS dict

    [GPSDictionary setValue:[NSNumber numberWithFloat:_lat] forKey:(NSString*)kCGImagePropertyGPSLatitude];
    [GPSDictionary setValue:[NSNumber numberWithFloat:_lon] forKey:(NSString*)kCGImagePropertyGPSLongitude];
    [GPSDictionary setValue:lat_ref forKey:(NSString*)kCGImagePropertyGPSLatitudeRef];
    [GPSDictionary setValue:lon_ref forKey:(NSString*)kCGImagePropertyGPSLongitudeRef];
    [GPSDictionary setValue:[NSNumber numberWithFloat:_alt] forKey:(NSString*)kCGImagePropertyGPSAltitude];
    [GPSDictionary setValue:[NSNumber numberWithShort:alt_ref] forKey:(NSString*)kCGImagePropertyGPSAltitudeRef]; 
    [GPSDictionary setValue:[NSNumber numberWithFloat:_heading] forKey:(NSString*)kCGImagePropertyGPSImgDirection];
    [GPSDictionary setValue:[NSString stringWithFormat:@"%c",_headingRef] forKey:(NSString*)kCGImagePropertyGPSImgDirectionRef];

    [EXIFDictionary setValue:xml forKey:(NSString *)kCGImagePropertyExifUserComment];
    //add our modified EXIF data back into the image’s metadata
    [metadataAsMutable setObject:EXIFDictionary forKey:(NSString *)kCGImagePropertyExifDictionary];
    [metadataAsMutable setObject:GPSDictionary forKey:(NSString *)kCGImagePropertyGPSDictionary];

    CFStringRef UTI = CGImageSourceGetType(source); //this is the type of image (e.g., public.jpeg)

    //this will be the data CGImageDestinationRef will write into
    NSMutableData *dest_data = [NSMutableData data];

    CGImageDestinationRef destination = CGImageDestinationCreateWithData((CFMutableDataRef)dest_data,UTI,1,NULL);

    if(!destination) {
        NSLog(@"***Could not create image destination ***");

    //add the image contained in the image source to the destination, overidding the old metadata with our modified metadata
    CGImageDestinationAddImageFromSource(destination,source,0, (CFDictionaryRef) metadataAsMutable);

    //tell the destination to write the image data and metadata into our data object.
    //It will return false if something goes wrong
    BOOL success = NO;
    success = CGImageDestinationFinalize(destination);

    if(!success) {
        NSLog(@"***Could not create data from image destination ***");

    //now we have the data ready to go, so do whatever you want with it
    //here we just write it to disk at the same path we were passed
    [dest_data writeToFile:file atomically:YES];



I tried Steve's answer and it works, but I think it's slow for large images because it's duplicating the entire image.

You can set the properties directly on the CMSampleBuffer using CMSetAttachments. Just do this before calling jpegStillImageNSDataRepresentation

CFDictionaryRef metaDict = CMCopyDictionaryOfAttachments(NULL, imageSampleBuffer, kCMAttachmentMode_ShouldPropagate);
CFMutableDictionaryRef mutable = CFDictionaryCreateMutableCopy(NULL, 0, metaDict);

NSMutableDictionary * mutableGPS = [self getGPSDictionaryForLocation:self.myLocation];
CFDictionarySetValue(mutable, kCGImagePropertyGPSDictionary, mutableGPS);

// set the dictionary back to the buffer
CMSetAttachments(imageSampleBuffer, mutable, kCMAttachmentMode_ShouldPropagate);

And the method getGPSDictionaryForLocation: can be found here:

Saving Geotag info with photo on iOS4.1

I created a MSMutableDictionary category to help save geotag and other metadata to an image. Check out my blog post here:

A piece involves creating the GPS metadata dictionary for the EXIF data. Here's a CLLocation category to do just that:

Since I'm still learning, it took me a while to piece together both Steve and Marty's answers to add metadata to the Data for an image and subsequently save it. Below, I've made a Swift implementation of their answers that does not use ImageIO methods.

Given a CMSampleBuffer sample buffer buffer, some CLLocation location, and using Morty’s suggestion to use CMSetAttachments in order to avoid duplicating the image, we can do the following. The gpsMetadata method extending CLLocation can be found here (also Swift).

if let location = location {
    // Get the existing metadata dictionary (if there is one)
    var metaDict = CMCopyDictionaryOfAttachments(nil, buffer, kCMAttachmentMode_ShouldPropagate) as? Dictionary<String, Any> ?? [:]

    // Append the GPS metadata to the existing metadata
    metaDict[kCGImagePropertyGPSDictionary as String] = location.gpsMetadata()

    // Save the new metadata back to the buffer without duplicating any data
    CMSetAttachments(buffer, metaDict as CFDictionary, kCMAttachmentMode_ShouldPropagate)

// Get JPG image Data from the buffer
guard let imageData = AVCaptureStillImageOutput.jpegStillImageNSDataRepresentation(buffer) else {
    // There was a problem; handle it here

At this point, you can write the image data to a file or use the Photos API to save the image to the Camera Roll (using PHAssetCreationRequest's addResource:with:data:options for iOS 9+, or for older iOS versions by writing the imageData to a temporary file and then calling PHAssetChangeRequest.creationRequestForAssetFromImage:atFileURL). Note that ALAssertLibrary is deprecated for iOS 9. I provide more implementation details in an answer here.

[Revisiting this answer because of downvotes without explanations.]

Apple has updated their article addressing this issue (Technical Q&A QA1622). If you're using an older version of Xcode, you may still have the article that says, more or less, tough luck, you can't do this without low-level parsing of the image data.

The updated version is here:

I adapted the code there as follows:

- (void) saveImage:(UIImage *)imageToSave withInfo:(NSDictionary *)info
    // Get the image metadata (EXIF & TIFF)
    NSMutableDictionary * imageMetadata = [[info objectForKey:UIImagePickerControllerMediaMetadata] mutableCopy];

    // add (fake) GPS data
    CLLocationCoordinate2D coordSF = CLLocationCoordinate2DMake(37.732711,-122.45224);

    // arbitrary altitude and accuracy
    double altitudeSF = 15.0;
    double accuracyHorizontal = 1.0;
    double accuracyVertical = 1.0;
    NSDate * nowDate = [NSDate date];
    // create CLLocation for image
    CLLocation * loc = [[CLLocation alloc] initWithCoordinate:coordSF altitude:altitudeSF horizontalAccuracy:accuracyHorizontal verticalAccuracy:accuracyVertical timestamp:nowDate];

    // this is in case we try to acquire actual location instead of faking it with the code right above
    if ( loc ) {
        [imageMetadata setObject:[self gpsDictionaryForLocation:loc] forKey:(NSString*)kCGImagePropertyGPSDictionary];

    // Get the assets library
    ALAssetsLibrary *library = [[ALAssetsLibrary alloc] init];

    // create a completion block for when we process the image
   ALAssetsLibraryWriteImageCompletionBlock imageWriteCompletionBlock =
    ^(NSURL *newURL, NSError *error) {
        if (error) {
            NSLog( @"Error writing image with metadata to Photo Library: %@", error );
        } else {
            NSLog( @"Wrote image %@ with metadata %@ to Photo Library",newURL,imageMetadata);

    // Save the new image to the Camera Roll, using the completion block defined just above
    [library writeImageToSavedPhotosAlbum:[imageToSave CGImage]

and I call this from


which is the delegate method for the image picker. (That's where I put the logic to see if there is an image to save, etc.)

For completeness, here's the helper method to get the GPS data as a dictionary:

- (NSDictionary *) gpsDictionaryForLocation:(CLLocation *)location
    CLLocationDegrees exifLatitude  = location.coordinate.latitude;
    CLLocationDegrees exifLongitude = location.coordinate.longitude;

    NSString * latRef;
    NSString * longRef;
    if (exifLatitude < 0.0) {
        exifLatitude = exifLatitude * -1.0f;
        latRef = @"S";
    } else {
        latRef = @"N";

    if (exifLongitude < 0.0) {
        exifLongitude = exifLongitude * -1.0f;
        longRef = @"W";
    } else {
        longRef = @"E";

    NSMutableDictionary *locDict = [[NSMutableDictionary alloc] init];

    // requires ImageIO
    [locDict setObject:location.timestamp forKey:(NSString*)kCGImagePropertyGPSTimeStamp];
    [locDict setObject:latRef forKey:(NSString*)kCGImagePropertyGPSLatitudeRef];
    [locDict setObject:[NSNumber numberWithFloat:exifLatitude] forKey:(NSString *)kCGImagePropertyGPSLatitude];
    [locDict setObject:longRef forKey:(NSString*)kCGImagePropertyGPSLongitudeRef];
    [locDict setObject:[NSNumber numberWithFloat:exifLongitude] forKey:(NSString *)kCGImagePropertyGPSLongitude];
    [locDict setObject:[NSNumber numberWithFloat:location.horizontalAccuracy] forKey:(NSString*)kCGImagePropertyGPSDOP];
    [locDict setObject:[NSNumber numberWithFloat:location.altitude] forKey:(NSString*)kCGImagePropertyGPSAltitude];

    return locDict;


See also Write UIImage along with metadata (EXIF, GPS, TIFF) in iPhone's Photo library

In this way I set EXIF data, also you can compress photo if need it, this solved the issue for me: Hope it helps

// Get your image.
NSURL *url = @"";
UIImage *loImgPhoto = [NSData dataWithContentsOfURL:url];

// Get your metadata (includes the EXIF data).
CGImageSourceRef loImageOriginalSource = CGImageSourceCreateWithData(( CFDataRef) loDataFotoOriginal, NULL);
NSDictionary *loDicMetadata = (__bridge NSDictionary *) CGImageSourceCopyPropertiesAtIndex(loImageOriginalSource, 0, NULL);

// Set your compression quality (0.0 to 1.0).
NSMutableDictionary *loDicMutableMetadata = [loDicMetadata mutableCopy];
[loDicMutableMetadata setObject:@(lfCompressionQualityValue) forKey:(__bridge NSString *)kCGImageDestinationLossyCompressionQuality];

// Create an image destination.
NSMutableData *loNewImageDataWithExif = [NSMutableData data];
CGImageDestinationRef loImgDestination = CGImageDestinationCreateWithData((__bridge CFMutableDataRef)loNewImageDataWithExif, CGImageSourceGetType(loImageOriginalSource), 1, NULL);

// Add your image to the destination.
CGImageDestinationAddImage(loImgDestination, loImgPhoto.CGImage, (__bridge CFDictionaryRef) loDicMutableMetadata);

// Finalize the destination.
if (CGImageDestinationFinalize(loImgDestination))
       NSLog(@"Successful image creation.");                   
       // process the image rendering, adjustment data creation and finalize the asset edit.

       //Upload photo with EXIF metadata
       [self myUploadMethod:loNewImageDataWithExif];

          NSLog(@"Error -> failed to finalize the image.");                         


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