Better Method for Geotagging Photos for Flickr Using Google Earth/Picasa

Flickr Map screenshotAfter several months of waiting, Flickr has come out with its own method for geotagging and showing photos on a map. For quite some time, many enterprising programmers have been developing hacks to allow people to georeference photos and tag them with coordinates (geotagging). Flickr finally realized this was important, and in December they hired one of the most innovative developers – a guy named Rev Dan Cant who did a site called – and the results have been released in the form of the Flickr Map: The new interface uses a Yahoo-based map (Flickr was acquired by Yahoo), and there are several innovative features. I like the new web-based map interface for viewing the photos (see a brief review down below).
For the best method of geotagging, I recommend using the new Picasa 2.5 beta to organize and enhance your photos on your computer and Google Earth with Picasa 2.5 to geotag your photos. This new feature writes the coordinates in the photo’s EXIF data. (Here’s a mini-tutorial on geotagging with GE). If you do this, when you upload your photos to Flickr the new Flickr Map can be set to automatically pick up the EXIFgeotags. Using GE to geotag is more fun, faster (you can zoom in faster in GE), and can be more accurate (thanks to the better quality aerial and satellite photos). Plus, you can export your geotagged photos to Google Earth, the new PicasaWeb, Flickr Map, or wherever you want. (Note: here’s another overview of this technique).

Although I recommend Google Earth for geotagging, I still like the new Flickr Map interface for showing photos. The map shows dots for locations of photos which match your current search. The center of the dot shows the number of photos in a location and the size is bigger for more photos. If there are a lot of photos at a given zoom level you see there are several pages of photos in the upper left corner of the map (just like in a normal search). You can search based on tags – search for all pictures of “cats” for example. When you click on a dot containing photos, you get a mini browser which lets you quickly scroll through thumbnails of the photos (just like on Flickr). You can click on the thumbnails and see bigger versions of the photo and then see the normal Flickr interface for viewing your photos.
You can also use Google Earth to browse photos from Flickr (here are three tools – I recommend the one from Metaltoad). But, as Rev Dan Cant has pointed out, these third-party tools have to scan the Flickr database for photos and will find it hard to keep up with the pace of new geotagged photos. There are already over 1 million photos which have been recently geotagged since Flickr Map came out. So, give Flickr Map a whirl.
When you are uploading your photos to Flickr you can choose a level of privacy for the photos. If you are showing photos of your home, you may only want friends and family to see the geotag. This makes a lot of sense, and I’m glad to see Flickr did this.
By the way, here’s a list of Google Maps mashups for mapping photos – source: GoogleMapsMania.

About Frank Taylor

Frank Taylor started the Google Earth Blog in July, 2005 shortly after Google Earth was first released. He has worked with 3D computer graphics and VR for many years and was very impressed with this exciting product. Frank completed a 5.5 year circumnavigation of the earth by sailboat in June 2015 which you can read about at Tahina Expedition, and is a licensed pilot, backpacker, diver, and photographer.

PLEASE NOTE: Google Earth Blog is no longer writing regular posts. As a result, we are not accepting new comments or questions about Google Earth. If you have a question, use the official Google Earth and Maps Forums or the Google Earth Community Forums.


  1. Is there a serious tutorial about geotagging thanks to a GPS log? Something that would take a GPX file and write EXIF geo data with shot time?

  2. Gaby, there is a very good application I recommend for automatically geotagging photos if you had a GPS with you while taking photos. It’s called RoboGEO. Read my comments about it here (with links to GE examples):
    Also, I recommend you look at my GPS category for other examples of showing GPS tracks with GE:

  3. Frank, Picasa/GE faster than Flickr? Maybe more fun, but I don’t think it is any faster. I find the current pick method in Picasa inefficient. I’d rather just drag and drop photos on a map where they are located. Right now I have to do them individually (at least by location). The Flickr method is much quicker for multiple photos in different locations.
    I’ll give you that GE is much more fun though. 🙂

  4. this tutorial shows how to use iphoto or graphic converter in combination with google earth (or google maps) to write location information to your EXIF data.

  5. James, when I wrote my article I was thinking largely about the faster ability to zoom in on a location using the GE interface. But, the Picasa/GE interface does let you tag multiple pictures very quickly. Just select multiple photos in Picasa first, then choose the geotag option. However, I do admit that a drag and drop methodology would be even quicker, and more intuitive, if you could do that with GE.

  6. I guess my disappointment is in the fact that there is so much potential with Picasa/Google Earth.
    What I do find interesting is that Yahoo has the all web solution and Google has the application solution. Who would have thought that 3 years ago. 🙂
    In the end, we have both Flickr and Picasa supporting EXIF and that is a good thing for all.

  7. I have serious doubts about the accuracy of google and yahoo coordinate systems.
    I used GE to find a lake in France (Lac Pavin). I, then used the coordinates provided by Google and entered those in Flickr (yes, you can, in the edit section of the photo). The resulting location is several kilometers away from the real location.
    The following link is in french but it speaks for itself (
    Does anyone have the same problem ?

  8. Vincent, I can speak for Yahoo’s possible errors, but sometimes there are errors in the projection of the aerial or satellite images Google acquires from its data providers for GE. There are tens of thousands of photos in the database all taken at different angles from planes, and from different satellites. Each provider has to carefully perform a projection calculation to make the photo fit in the 3D data.
    If you find an error, you should report it to Google by reading these instructions:

  9. Thanks for the answer Frank !

  10. I use service for GPS tracking from my mobile and for photo geotagging. It is convenient to use one solution.
    GPSed Photo Take’n’Pin is a simple and free Windows-based software that adds location coordinates (geotags) to your photos. Geotagged photos can be opened in one click in Google Earth on precise places they were taken at.
    I recommend everyone to try it out:

  11. I really like Picasa’s implementation of displaying the photos on the map itself – much more slick than Flickr. Check out a comparison of Flicr and Picasa here:

  12. I used GE to find a lake in Syria and results proved to be so good Thanks for sharing. It is interesting
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PLEASE NOTE: Google Earth Blog is no longer writing regular posts. As a result, we are not accepting new comments or questions about Google Earth. If you have a question, use the official Google Earth and Maps Forums or the Google Earth Community Forums.