Thoughts of a geek

4 October 2014

Geotagging photos with Google Location History

Filed under: Computers — Tags: , , , — qwandor @ 12:14 pm

When I take photos on my Nexus 5, it automatically geotags them, which is great. However, when I am on holiday, I often use a proper camera with a bigger sensor and lens as it can produce better results. The disadvantage of this is that it does not have a GPS so cannot geotag the photos I take. Fortunately, I have Google Location History enabled on my phone, which records my location periodically. I use digiKam to manage my photos, which has a feature to correlate photos with a GPS track by timestamp. Here is how I use this to geotag my photos:

  1. Enable location reporting and location history on phone. In Android this is under Settings→Location→Google Location Reporting.
  2. Ensure camera clock is correct.
  3. Take photos.
  4. Go to the Google Location history web interface, select the relevant days, and click Export to KML.
  5. Convert the KML file to GPX with this GPS Visualizer tool. Unfortunately the converter has a bug: the KML file has a timezone of UTC-7:00 for all timestamps, but the converter ignores this and treats them all as UTC. We will have to compensate for this in the next step…
  6. Select the relevant photos in digiKam, and click Image→Geo-location from the menu. Load the GPX file you downloaded in the previous step. To compensate for the bug mentioned above, you will need to set the camera time zone option to 7 hours ahead of the actual timezone your camera was set to. So if you were taking photos in UTC+2:00, then set it to UTC+9:00.
  7. Click Correlate. Check that your photo geo-locations look correct. If they look wrong, ensure that you got the timezone right. If they look right but some are missing, try enabling the Interpolate option.
  8. Apply and Close. Done!


  1. Good post! If you want an alternative to GPS Vizualizer tool, I suggest to have a look at this free converter program: It can convert KML file to GPX format and vice versa, depending on your needs. You can try it and see how it works. Thanks!

    Comment by Tom — 20 October 2014 @ 9:22 am

  2. Awesome! Thanks so much for this writeup. I did everything you said and it worked like a charm. It’s worth noting that the GPS Visualizer Tool also has a time offset field under their advanced options.

    Comment by David Crabill — 21 June 2015 @ 9:56 am

  3. Thanks for your thoughts. Cell phones can be fantastic for this type of thing. What do you do when your phone is out of coverage? I know there are GPS data loggers, do you use one of those? Or do you always geotag in coverage areas? I have found some good articles for newbie geotaggers like myself. This is one that talks about geotagging very generally; pros/cons, equipment, software, and what not: And this one goes into a little more detail about different equipment: Like your article they have some good info in them. Check them out.

    Comment by Donna — 19 July 2016 @ 9:22 pm

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