Why are my images turned sideways? Can I Crop Images?


When you upload images to the admin console, you may notice that they images are turning. This is due to a setting on your camera that will need to be adjusted. Most modern cameras have a rotation sensor which writes an orientation EXIF tag into the file to tell your software how to turn the photo for display.

While you do have options with software, below, which we will leave in for your reference, you now have the ability to rotate images that come into the system sideways, right from the admin panel! Click below to watch the video on how it works!




And just in case you wanted to learn more about adjusting image setting prior to import, here are all the important details you will need. 


Some software does not utilize the orientation tag written by the camera. If you suspect this is the case, don't rotate the photos, but try viewing them straight out of the camera with an up-to-date free program such as PicasaXnView, or FastStone Image Viewer. I have personally verified that these programs display photos according to the embedded orientation flag. If these programs display the photo at the proper orientation, then your original software is at fault and you should consider updating or replacing it.

Ideally, you want a program that will utilize the orientation tag for display only, and not alter the actual data of the file. However, if you want to ensure that your image is always shown at the correct orientation, no matter what software you use, the best way is to use a program that will rotate the actual content losslessly based on the orientation tag, then update the orientation tag to reflect the new orientation.

(Microsoft's free Windows Live Photo Gallery does this.) This will ensure that programs which do use the orientation tag will display the image properly, as well as those that do not utilize the orientation tag.

Here are some of my findings on some popular programs, and how they handle rotation issues.

  • Windows Explorer does not utilize the orientation flag to show thumbnails, even in Windows 7.
  • Windows Picture and Fax Viewer (included with Windows XP) is one program that is notorious for not honoring the orientation flag. Additionally, it will remove any existing orientation flag, along with other metadata, as soon as you rotate a photo using this software.
  • Windows Live Photo Gallery will re-orient your pictures based on the orientation flag in the file, but only when importing photos directly from the camera. This is an import option which is enabled by default. Windows Live Photo Gallery does not utilize the orientation flag stored in the image file to display photos properly when they are already on your computer. Additionally, if you rotate a photo, the actual content is rotated and a new orientation tag is saved into the file by Windows Live Photo Gallery.


If your camera is older, it might not have an orientation sensor. If you suspect this is the case, you can use a program to view the EXIF data of the photos before doing any editing in another program. You want to be sure that the program you use is showing ALL the EXIF information and not just the fields it thinks are important.

You can use a dedicated EXIF viewer for this, but XnView works well, is free, and is good to have for many different things.

Once you have established that your camera is NOT writing the orientation tag, you can safely rotate the pictures in your preferred photo software. If the software is current, it should add the proper orientation tag to the metadata and you won't need to worry about the picture displaying sideways if you edit in another (current) program later or if you post the photos online.


Scanners do not write EXIF information, so rotating will have to be done during the scanning process or using a photo editor or viewer after scanning the image.


If you use multiple programs to process your photos, one or more of them could be reading or writing the orientation information incorrectly, causing the photo to display sideways, upside-down, or otherwise incorrectly.

If you suspect this is the case, use the process of elimination, by testing each of the programs you use to see how it handles rotation. When you find the one causing the problem, check for an update, eliminate it from your workflow, or be careful to use it only after properly setting the orientation in another program.


When you upload photos online, most sites will also read the orientation EXIF tag and display the photos properly. In those cases where it does not, you can usually find a rotation button or icon to turn the photo to the proper orientation without having to correct the rotation locally and upload the photo again. Look for a pair of arrows or a page icon with an arrow over it. Using desktop software that handles orientation properly should eliminate any issues of photos displaying sideways after you post them online.


Practically every image editing application on the planet has a feature that allows you to rotate a photo back to the appropriate orientation. If you have a Mac, then Photos or iPhoto will allow you to edit the image. On the PC, Photo Editor can do the job.For example, Photoshop's Transform menu item "Edit>Transform" allows you to Rotate or Flip the image. Just be aware that flipping an image containing words may cause the text to appear backward. In this case, your best bet is to choose to rotate the image 180 degrees either in a clockwise or counterclockwise direction. If the image appears to be a bit tilted, and you use the latest version of Photoshop, try using the Content Aware Cropping feature.


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