I took a photo with my iPhone of a package of bread, oriented in landscape. I then copy-pasted it to iOS-Mail (the only way to get un-resized photos sent via email), and emailed it to myself.

In the gmail preview, the image is oriented correctly. That is, the bread labels display text correctly.

When I downloaded the image to my desktop, I opened the image in Paint.NET, the image as rotated counter-clockwise 90 degrees.

I rotated the image in paint.net 90degrees clockwise, resized it, then saved it.

I emailed this photo to a friend, and in the gmail preview it now shows oriented 90CW, and the image preview in windows shows it as 90degrees counter-clockwise.

If I open the image, or upload the image, it is oriented properly.

So why are thumbnails oriented incorrectly, and how does software interpret the orientation to display the image?

Here are the thumbnails, windows on the left, gmail on the right. Same image.


  • This is only remotely related to photography. I think that you should ask this on Superuser instead, where you will find more software-savvy people. – Guffa Aug 30 '10 at 20:36
  • Obviously I disagree. This only happens when I take pictures with my camera(s). I never encounter this problem outside of images that I have taken and uploaded myself. I will add a meta question regarding software-vs-photography (if there isn't one already). Cheers. Also Skål. – Alan Aug 30 '10 at 21:48
  • I didn't close this immediately because it's a bit of a grey area, but my opinion is that the question isn't about photography just because the files happen to be a result of photography. It's a little like asking here what to do about my broken toe, because I dropped my camera on it... See this rather similar question: photo.stackexchange.com/questions/881/… and the meta discussion: meta.photo.stackexchange.com/questions/108/… – Guffa Aug 30 '10 at 22:53
  • 2
    I'm with you on the iphone4 issue. A more properly worded question might be "Are there camera settings that affect thumbnail orientation?" – Alan Aug 31 '10 at 2:38

There are two options for software -- you can either orientate the file in the right direction, or you can store meta-information that stores the information to allow for automatic correction. Not all software supports the automatic correction, and it is most likely one of these cases that you've spotted.

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