Metadata on location (but not date/time) present on photos but appears to be lost while importing to iNaturalist - may be Safari only issue

This bug report is from a different person’s experiences and I recognize there are some important bits of information missing that would help resolve it, but I figured I could make this so it gets considered & then can fill in the details further later.

Platform (Android, iOS, Website): Website

Browser, if a website issue (Firefox, Chrome, etc) : I am guessing Safari on the Mac

Description of problem
From a message sent on April 09, 2021 17:52, from someone in a project I admin:
“My photo metadata is not importing to iNaturalist properly. I noticed it started happening half way through last year’s virtual foray. I take the photos on an iPhone 12. Those automatically populate into my Photos app on my Mac, as I have them synced with iCloud. In Photos I can view all of the metadata. However, when I import them into iNaturalist, whether from the phone or the computer, only the date and time import. I have to manually enter the location data, which makes it less accurate. I’ve double checked that the privacy settings are all correct.”

The ‘half way through’ our 2020 virtual fungi foray that’s mentioned would be about October or November 2020, maybe.

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I have been trying to replicate the problem myself because a first hand bug report with screenshots is more useful. But hadn’t had luck so far - testing with images uploaded on my version of the app working fine, and images uploaded to the site from my laptop via firefox working fine as well.

But I just tested the same images that I have confirmed have metadata going to the site via Safari app on an iPhone and trying to upload there, and found the metadata doesn’t import at all for that. Not location or date/time.

So maybe it is something to do with uploading to iNaturalist from Safari?

Here are screenshots from that test I did:
showing the pictures do have location metadata

showing them set to be uploaded to iNaturalist accessing the website by Safari, seemingly unable to get metadata

There are at least four ways to get an image from Photos to iNaturalist in Safari on Mac:

(1) Export from Photos, then in iNaturalist click Upload and then click “Choose files” and then select image files from the displayed file hierarchy
(2) In iNaturalist click Upload and then click “Choose files” and then click “Photos” in the sidebar, and then select images from there
(3) Export from Photos, then drag and drop the generated image files to iNaturalist’s Upload page
(4) Drag and drop from the Photos app directly to iNaturalist’s Upload page

If you take images from Photos directly (options 2 and 4 above), location data will not be transferred. I am not certain, but I believe this is a deliberate privacy choice to avoid users giving away location data for photos without realizing it. (Also, photos taken on the iPhone that are in .heic format don’t work in some cases; this is an unrelated issue covered by multiple other forum threads including this one.)

If you use the menu item File > Export > Export (n) Photos… to create image files (options 1 and 3 above), there is an explicit Include Location Information checkbox. If this is checked, then the location info will be included in the exported files and then transferred to iNaturalist.

There are other more convoluted ways to get photos from Photos to the iNaturalist website, but I suspect the person having trouble here is using option 2 or 4, in which case I believe this is working as intended (but also not under the control of iNaturalist in any way).


Thank you very much for this detailed description of what may be going wrong - I will pass it on & can resolve this “bug report” if using methods 1 or 3 it works for the other person too. I’ve confirmed I was using 2 in my test to see if the issue was Safari & that is what is going wrong there.

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Yes it is trying to directly upload from Safari that’s the issue - so it’s not a “bug” but a pitfall. For the other person, uploading drag-and-drop using Firefox works well and is a solution/work around to avoid having to do exporting steps.

Because it’s not a bug, I’m going to mark your answer as Solution. Or maybe the topic should be closed? I don’t know.

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