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I have many photos that don't have GPS tags, so I'd like to tag them manually by the name of the city, like "Bangalore". The goal is to have the photos automatically organised by location, either in Lightroom or in any other app I may choose to use in the future (like Google Photos or Apple Photos).

I edited the "City" field in Lightroom's Metadata, specifically the Location dropdown:

enter image description here

I don't know if this field is the right one to set. For example, when I export this photo to JPEG and open it in Preview on the Mac, it does not show a map of Bangalore, which it does for another file that has an actual GPS tag. So, I suspect that this field will not let apps automatically organise photos by the location, or show a map view.

So, how do I tag my photos with the name of the city, and have it work equivalent to a GPS tag? I use Lightroom, and I'm not interested in finer granularity than a city, like the neighborhood or the street.

  • Do you specifically want to view your photos on a map, or do you just want some way of organising/selecting photos according to location? – Mark Fisher Jul 26 '15 at 20:11
  • Both. Geotags work for both purposes, and I'd like both to work for manually added cities as well. – Vaddadi Kartick Jul 27 '15 at 2:11
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The preview system will be using GPS coordinates and it's actually quite a dumb process where the application sends the co-ordinates to a map API and shows the results. The city information displayed in Preview will be what it gets back from that API and not what you specify in the metadata.

As a result the systems will need an exact co-ordinate set to work even if you don't want to give one. The best option would be to pick a point in the centre of your chosen city and set that as the GPS co-ordinates for mapping systems to use if you don't want to provide more detailed location information manually.

  • Can I set a GPS co-ordinate with a higher error bound, to cover the whole city? As you know, GPS never gives a precise location, only an area, and I wonder if the EXIF tag encodes the error bound, in which case I can use a larger one to cover the whole city. I don't want to pick the center of the city, because it will show wrongly on the map as being taken there, when I want it to show that it was taken in Bangalore. BTW, I wish the software is smart enough to treat the city name as equivalent to a GPS co-ordinate, by querying an internet service to find the borders of Bangalore. – Vaddadi Kartick Jul 27 '15 at 2:15
  • If the software treated the city name as equivalent to a GPS co-ordinate, that would still have to be a precise co-ordinate, showing on a map in a precise location. No different to if you had added it yourself. Why not just add it to the centre (where the city name appears) as James suggests? – Mark Fisher Jul 27 '15 at 12:59
  • Can't I have an GPS co-ordinate with a greater error bound, as I asked? That is, instead of ±5m, say, it can be ±30km. – Vaddadi Kartick Jul 27 '15 at 13:52
  • As described in the Geographic Information Systems SE, the Exif standards contains the field GPS DOP to describe GPS accuracy. I don't think that Lightroom will help much with it. Once you picked the center of the city, you will probably have to use a Exif editor to change this value. However, GPS error are generally under 300 meters, I don't know what will append if you try to change it to represent an error of 30 km... Moreover, relations between meters and GPS DOP aren't easy! – Olivier Jul 27 '15 at 20:12
  • Try tweaking the DOP with exiftool or something if you want but I doubt Kartick will see the result he wants in the App he's using (if you check previous questions, Kartick world is not always connected with the real world but we love him all the same). Because even assuming you get the DOP value right, the Apple mapping API probably doesn't accept it (only the OSM API docs came up when I did a search) and that even if did that Apple Photo app is very unlikely to pass it... – James Snell Jul 28 '15 at 11:58

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