Do home-brewed audio files record your GPS information?
January 30, 2014 8:42 PM   Subscribe

I'm starting a podcast, and the following (slightly paranoid) thought occurred to me: would people be able to extract information about the location where I recorded and/or uploaded the audio? These will most likely be mp3s, recorded using Garageband on my computer.

I recently found out that smartphone pictures can encode your GPS coordinates, so before I put myself out there for the great, wide world to hear, I thought I'd check on audio as well. Granted, I'll be using my computer to do this, not my phone, but since my computer's hooked up to the Internet and therefore recognizes my geographical location, I'd like to be on the safe side and make sure the podcast is as anonymous as possible.

I'm not sure how sophisticated Garageband is about knowing where you're situated in the world.

Recommendations welcome for the best way to go about this, and apologies if my concern is totally off-base -- in general, I just assume that I (a) have way less privacy than I think and (b) creepers are very sophisticated.
posted by delight to Computers & Internet (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: No, this is not in general stored with audio files. It's useful for photos because it lets you do things like ask, "show me all the photos I took in Paris." This us generally not going to be a common query for audio. Maybe, one day, if that becomes something people want to know, then they'll start geotagging audio files, but you're safe for now.
posted by tylerkaraszewski at 8:51 PM on January 30, 2014

Ordinarily no.

You could certainly do it in an ID3v2 tag. If you're really paranoid interested, make a test recording, and then open it in a tag editor and see what info is in there.

Alternatively, save from garageband to an AIFF (which doesn't have tags), and then encode that with something else.
posted by pompomtom at 9:02 PM on January 30, 2014

I don't know of a way that someone could tell where you recorded audio, but along the same slightly paranoid lines, there is a way to determine when you recorded something: "Electrical network frequency (ENF) analysis"
posted by jjwiseman at 11:01 PM on January 30, 2014 [1 favorite]

  save from garageband to an AIFF (which doesn't have tags)

It does, but Garageband may not currently use tags in its AIFFs.
posted by scruss at 6:15 AM on January 31, 2014 [1 favorite]


I just did a test, and the tags were the name, the "artist" and the "album." That's it.

Also, OS X notifies you when location data is being accessed.
posted by O9scar at 7:06 AM on January 31, 2014

Don't be lulled into a false sense of security by the OS X Location Services notifications. That's only for apps that use Location Services, but it's easy to write an app that determines your location in another way, for example using the Google Maps Geolocation API.
posted by jjwiseman at 12:20 PM on January 31, 2014

Response by poster: Thanks, all -- it sounds like I don't really need to worry about this.
posted by delight at 9:35 PM on January 31, 2014

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