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If a picture is iMessaged to me, how can I tell what time that photo was taken? When I save it, it changes the EXIF info to the time I save it (which isn't helpful). I am trying to see if a stranger is lying to me, for my safety.

  • I can confirm that this exact thing works fine on my iPhone 6, getting the original time of taking the photo from the other user, not the time I saved it to Photos. Make sure you're doing it right? – owlswipe Jan 4 '17 at 3:17
  • How do you extract it from iMessage from the above app/page without saving it to Photos? Again thank you so much. – George Jan 4 '17 at 4:32
  • Do you have a Mac computer to open the Messages app from the Mac? – nicael Jan 4 '17 at 4:33
  • It lets me open the image in the Preview app and see the creation date, which is the actual time, when the photo was shot. – nicael Jan 4 '17 at 4:35
  • I don't have a Mac 😔 Just apple mobile devices – George Jan 4 '17 at 18:20
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You can figure out what date & time an image was taken1 (and the GPS coordinates of where it was taken2) by saving the image to your camera roll, opening this online metadata viewer, and loading the photo into that tool.

1 This can be manually modified with a metadata editor or be made incorrect by setting the device time to something that isn't the current time.

2 As long as the Location permission was granted by the photographer in their Camera app, and the metadata wasn't manually scrubbed of this (note that it can be made incorrect by a metadata editor too).


Here's a sample result:

A sample result in the metadata viewer

  • Good answer! As an alternative, there's also exifdata.com – Monomeeth Jan 4 '17 at 0:06
  • @Monomeeth Yup, looks like a good site too. I'm sure there are hundreds... – owlswipe Jan 4 '17 at 0:07
  • I also tried the exit data site and it gave me the time I saved it from iMessage, thank you all for your help. – George Jan 4 '17 at 1:35
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Can't guarantee this but it's worth a try. Save the photo, then import to Mac with GraphicConverter or iPhoto or Photos.app. Or if on Windows, maybe iTunes has a way to get it there.

I guess you could mail it to yourself on another platform. If in Photos, select it and export original. Then use 'exiftool' to dump ALL the tags. There will be lots of dates. If there is GPS data, the GPS Date will probably be good. If not, look at all the other dates and the earliest one is probably good.

Unfortunately, it is possible to change any of the dates, but this is your best chance.

P.S. There is a version of exiftool embedded in GraphicConverter but it's easier to read in Terrminal.

  • Be sure you export the original, otherwise you'll get changes made by Photos.app – WGroleau Jan 4 '17 at 3:11
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If you have a Mac computer, there's an option (works for me at least).

The sequence of actions which lets me figure the time a shot was taken:

  1. Open the Messages app
  2. Choose your dialog, right-click the image and choose "Open"
  3. CMD+I. The creation date is exactly the time the photo was shot.
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I've used the Photo Investigator iPhone app for that purpose. It's free to use, but you have to pay to remove ads and to actually edit the metadata.

You can add it as an action too, so it's easy to "send" a photo to the app right from iMessages.

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