Why Your iPhone Photos are Upside Down & How to Fix That

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If you’re a Windows user, you’ve probably noticed that some of your iPhone photos and videos are upside down when you save them to your computer. Even if your never leave Apple ecosystem, your photos will usually be upside down when you email them to friends who have Windows operating system.

iphone photos uside down

Most people first noticed this issue when iOS 5 was released. This was the first time when you could take a photo using the volume up button. This is an awesome feature and I use it all the time. The only problem is that when you hold your camera with the volume buttons up, your photos will be upside down on most Windows machines.

How could Apple make such a silly mistake?

Let’s step back for a second. If you rotate your iPhone, the camera sensor won’t know about it. It will simply record the image and save it to a file, letting the software of your phone do the rest. To make sure that your photos are displayed correctly, your iPhone adds information about the correct rotation of the photo to the properties of each image, which are specified in EXIF tags.

Your iPhone doesn’t convert any images to correct orientation because that would keep it busy for a few seconds. Instead it simply saves all photos as they were recorded and adds information about their correct orientation to EXIF tags. This means that your iPhone is ready to shoot another photo within a fraction of a second, which is just awesome.

The only problem is that some software developers, including Microsoft, ignore the information that’s stored in EXIF tags. There’s a huge debate about who’s right and who’s wrong in this situation, but I bet you don’t really care about that. What you really want to know is…

How to Solve This Problem

You can prevent any rotation issues in the future by taking your iPhone photos and videos with the volume buttons down. However, it’s not as convenient as holding your iPhone with the volume buttons up, especially if you use those buttons to take photos. That’s why I almost always prefer to keep the volume buttons up and deal with possible problems later.

You can also use a dedicated camera app such as Camera+ for all your photo needs. Unlike the standard iPhone camera app, Camera+ actually recodes all your photos into the correct orientation. Unfortunately this takes a bit more time (and more battery), so you have to wait a little while your photos are being saved to camera roll. Unfortunately Camera+ can’t help you with shooting videos.

If you already have a lot of photos that are shot upside down, it’s best to use software that knows how to deal with EXIF correctly. All Apple software falls into this category, so if you’re a Mac user, you probably haven’t even noticed this issue. On Windows I recommend Picasa for managing photos and iTunes for dealing with videos. You can also use QuickTime for video playback.

If you want to fix the orientation of your entire library at once, it’s best to do it in Picasa. Simply select all the photos you want to rotate (Ctrl+A to select all) and choose to save changes (Ctrl+S). Depending on the size of your library this may take a few minutes, but once you’re done, all your photos will be in the correct orientation forever.

Unfortunately it’s harder to do the same with videos. If you don’t have any professional video editing software, it’s probably best to purchase QuickTime Pro from Apple. This software isn’t free, but it provides a quick one-click solution for rotating your iPhone videos.

If you have to upload photos and videos to the internet, it’s best to do this from your iPhone directly. When you upload your media to Facebook, YouTube, Flickr and other similar sites, your iPhone will take care of all the necessary conversions for you.

For sending email to Windows users I recommend a free app called SnapBot. After your photos have gone through this app, you can be sure that whoever receives your email will see them in the correct orientation.

If you also want to take great photos with your iPhone, please join 11,273 subscribers who receive our free iPhone photography email tips that you won’t find anywhere on this blog.

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  • Dave

    thanks this is a unique issue to deal with when you’re on Android/Windows platform. Fooled me a couple times when some software shows photo rotated but it still needs corrective rotation via a photo editor.

    • http://iphonephotographyschool.com/ Emil Pakarklis

      I’ve been struggling with this myself, so I’m glad you found this article useful :)

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  • http://review.rugstudio.com/reviews/Accent%20Rugs Area Rugs

    I savor, lead to I found just what I used to be taking a look for.
    You’ve ended my 4 day lengthy hunt! God Bless you man. Have a great day. Bye

    • http://iphonephotographyschool.com/ Emil Pakarklis

      Thanks! I still remember what a pain this used to be for me…

  • Bruce Rhodewalt

    I took a photo on my iPhone and uploaded it to a web site on my MacBook. It’s upside-down. Windows is not involved. Is this an issue with the web server software?

    • http://iphonephotographyschool.com/ Emil Pakarklis

      Hi Bruce,

      I don’t know, it sounds like a web browser issue to me. Try importing and exporting your photos in iPhoto, that will solve the issue.

  • Mo

    Just an FYI that VLC is free and can easily rotate videos for playback, unlike Windows Media Player. Also, Windows Movie Maker can rotate and re-save.

    • http://iphonephotographyschool.com/ Emil Pakarklis

      These are great tips, thanks Mo!

  • Richard Topham

    The program ACDsee automatically rotates photos. It used to do the same with videos, but is not currently doing so, and I have asked them why not.

    I tried to download Quicktime Pro but the website does not believe anybody lives outside the USA, so it would not accept my address or phone number.

    • http://iphonephotographyschool.com/ Emil Pakarklis

      Thanks for the tip!

      It’s really strange about QuickTime, I’m not sure why they would do it.

      Eventually I ended up getting a MacBook which has since saved me so many headaches. Expensive, but well worth it.

  • http://www.coolgarriv.com Dave

    Thanks for pointing this out. I could never remember which way was the correct way to hold the iPhone which resulted in approx half of my photos being upside down

    • http://iphonephotographyschool.com/ Emil Pakarklis

      Thanks Dave, I’m happy I could help you with this :)

  • Will Lofft

    Emil – Thx for the assistance – one question. The movies are now right side up if I view from Quick Time Pro, however the file itself is still upside down even after I re-saved it in Quick Time Pro. Do you know how to save it right side up? Will

  • Ed

    For photos, use FastStone Image Viewer (http://www.faststone.org/FSViewerDetail.htm)
    For video, use VLC Media Player (http://www.videolan.org/)

    Both free and have been around for a long time. Outstanding features in both, not just fixes for Apple silliness.

  • bec

    so I have taken hundreds of photos with my phone on a particular occasion my phone holding it upright took the picture upside down I thought how strange deleted that photo and took another picture the same thing happened using the same method as before…. walked away took a picture of a completely different object using the same method and that photo came through normal what could be an explanation for this problem?

    • http://iPhonePhotographySchool.com/ Emil Pakarklis

      That sounds like a software bug. Restart the iPhone and hope it never happens again.

    • Johnny

      restart and hope. Thats apple for ya

  • Rich B

    This is 100% Apples problem, they need to decide which is the correct way up, if you take a picture with volume button up then surely that is the correct way to take picture, so the picture should show correctly, also there is no way to take a correct picture or video in portrait mode(home button at bottom) they always show 90 degree left or right, crazy!

    • http://iPhonePhotographySchool.com/ Emil Pakarklis

      Hi Rich,

      What you’re saying makes sense, but they have been ignoring this for years. Maybe there’s an underlying technical issue that we’re not aware of… or maybe they just want people to buy Macs (that solved all issues for me).

    • Harvey Adcock

      Apple have a solution to the problem though – the EXIF tags. EXIF tags are standardised, so it’s not Apple imposing bespoke fixes that will only work with their machines – Microsoft is completely free to take them into account. So while I wish one or the other would concede for a better experience, I don’t feel you can really fault Apple 100%. Also as this article says is the case for using the tags, being able to take multiple photos quickly is very useful.

    • Bob

      This does work with photos, but not with videos.

    • Jamie Moxam

      Agreed. Only a buffoon would conclude the “shutter release” button should be on the bottom of the camera.

  • Michael

    SO if you already have downloaded pics from your iPhone on to a Windows 8 hard drive, none of the software mentioned here will help solve the problem. FML, FMM

    • http://iPhonePhotographySchool.com/ Emil Pakarklis

      Instal Picasa, select all photos that you need to rotate (ctrl+a), and simply save changes (ctrl+s). That should solve the problem.

  • G.E.R.R.Y.

    Yeah, silly Apple for saving the photo data (EXIF) as do ALL photo software programs like Photoshop, Lightroom, etc. Kudos to Microsoft for discarding data. MS will probably catch up in a few years and copyright everyone else’s hard work.

    • http://iPhonePhotographySchool.com/ Emil Pakarklis

      Honestly, I think they’re both stubborn about this issue :)

    • G.E.R.R.Y.

      Why do you interpret Apple as being stubborn? Virtually EVERY photography program uses the EXIF data, so I see MS as simply wrong-headed in not using it. (BTW, I was being sarcastic in my previous post.)

    • http://iPhonePhotographySchool.com/ Emil Pakarklis

      Apple could also save the photo files so that they’re in the right orientation when you shoot with volume buttons up even before EXIF adjustments. That would only make sense, right?

  • Wendy

    Must of my video are upside down what can I do to get them the right way. I can flip them to edit them like I cAn my photos

  • Mick Dean

    or just send your pics to yourself on facebook chat

    • http://iPhonePhotographySchool.com/ Emil Pakarklis

      You lose almost all the resolution that way…

  • rosie

    what folder do the saved fotos end up in? i hav neva had a problem with uploading fotos from my iphone to my business web page but since i had to get a new laptop with windows8 the fotos are every which way but straight! i hav used picasa to rotate just one after importing it from my i-phone(5) but i still don’t get the rotated one on my webpage :( can u help me Pleeez!

  • rosie

    oh my word i’ve done it ! thank you emil for this great site …i was ready to take back my laptop and ask for windows 7 because thats the only difference not my i-phone !

    • http://iPhonePhotographySchool.com/ Emil Pakarklis

      Sorry, I don’t know very much about Windows since I haven’t used it for a few happy years :)

  • The Cynergist

    As far as I’m concerned, the iphone is crap for photos. I don’t really want to have to upload photos somewhere else to deal with orientation issues. Furthermore, the iphone is so random about which photos make it to the photostream. One day they get there another day they don’t. And the picture quality if you’re not close is totally s*%t. I was at a concert the other night and got better close ups by taking pictures of the the Samsung Galaxy phone being used by the chick in front of me.

  • Harvey Adcock

    Does QuickTime Pro allow me to correct the orientation of all videos with one click (ie highlight or somehow select them all for rotation correction) or would I need to import each one individually? If it’s the latter I don’t really feel it’s worth paying the money…