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iOS4 Emails Portrait Photos as Landscape


OrientationOr does it? Actually, iOS4 sends the photos with orientation information, but that doesn’t help if your recipients see the photo sideways because of their chosen email software. Skip down if you’re looking for workarounds.
UPDATE: This is the workaround I use now.

If you’ve moved on to iOS4 you may have noticed a change in how emailed photos appear to recipients. Apparenly Apple changed the way they handle rotation and are now using an orientation tag instead of actually redrawing the photo with the pixels arranged in portrait format. Don’t worry, we’ve got a workaround.

So – your phone is sending the photo with information about how to present the photo in the correct orientation, but the recipient’s software might not acknowledge the tag. When I open the email using Apple Mail the photo is oriented correctly. Preview and many other photo apps will display the orientation correctly as well – if I download the photo.

Here’s an example you can try: Take a portrait photo with your iOS4 iPhone. Using the native Photo or Camera app email it to a Gmail address. When you open the email in Safari, IE or Firefox you’ll see a thumbnail that’s oriented correctly. But when you view the photo it’ll be in landscape mode.

If you download the photo and open it with an app like Preview you can take a look at the tags by hitting Command + I. You’ll see an orientation entry that might say something like “Rotated 90° CCW.” (Pictured above)

So – here’s the workaround: Use an app like Best Camera. When I send photos using Best Camera they show up correctly in web-based Gmail. I don’t believe Best Camera has been updated for iOS4 and that could explain the difference. Best Camera is currently $2.99.

You could also use the free Gorillacam app. But the results are a little different. If you take the portrait photo with Gorillacam it’ll show up in Gmail oriented correctly. If you use Gorillacam to send a photo you took with the native Camera app it will display in landscape mode in Gmail. Gorillacam is free.

It doesn’t really matter if Apple jumped the gun by using the tag or if certain apps or web sites are behind in recognizing the tag. The bottom line: People probably aren’t seeing your emailed iPhone photos correctly. Now you’ve got a workaround.

Note: I also emailed a photo to Flickr. It was displayed properly and the tag information was clearly visible in the metadata. However, a friend in the UK reported different results when emailing portrait photos to Flickr: They showed up as landscape. Photos like this need to be displayed correctly.

Best Camera on my iPhone 3GS with iOS4 has been exiting every time I email a photo from it, but the photo is still getting sent.

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14 comments to “iOS4 Emails Portrait Photos as Landscape”

  1. I’ve just been digging around Flickr and have found an “Auto-rotate your photos” option buried in the ‘Privacy & Permissions’ section. Any guesses what it was set to?


    I’m gonna go sit in the corner.

  2. I was about to dowload this to fix my iphone sideways photo problem, but I see reviews and all say it has SPYWARE!!! no thanks.

  3. I was having the same problem. Leave it to Apple to take something that’s working perfectly fine from the beginning and “improve” it. I fear IOS 5 more than Freddy Krueger now.

  4. Here it is June 26, 2011 and my portrait photos are still being displayed as landscape when I email them to my gmail account! Maybe I should contact NASA.

  5. So here it is IOS 5 Oct 2011 this issue is still around, Only fix i found is the selecting using “copy” and pasting images in mail message and emailing. This takes the WYSIWYG approach to the picture format.

  6. Not for me Roja. I just copied and pasted to my gmail address. The thumbnail is right in Gmail, but when I open it it’s sideways.

  7. I never had trouble sending a picture with email and the picture being sideways. I upgraded to ios5 and I have a iphone 4. What has to be done to correct this. If I take a picture landscape it comes out ok in email but why should I have to do this??? NEVER DID BEFORE!! It is very frustrating if I forget to take a picture landscape. Please find a fix or better yet email me the answer.

  8. A fix for portait mode within the iphone (tested on 4S):

    open it in Camera+, rotate it sideways, -> rotate back, -> done; if you send the picture now, the recipient will see it correctly rotated immediately. Probably other camera-apps do the same.

  9. I have been having this problem as well. In the new iOS5 software, you can “edit” the photo right from the camera roll view. If you just do a slight crop, then save the photo, it will then view properly in gmail. An easy solution if you remember to slightly crop photos you want to email someone.

  10. Another work around is to just crop the portrait image, even slightly, and the whole image is redrawn upright. Sometimes I just shave a few pixels off one side, and the image comes thru correctly.

  11. Thank you Steve. Your method works perfectly.

  12. Steve your the man… cropping the pic worked great!

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