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Photo Orientation Error


On April 21, 2020, Microsoft issued release KB4550945, which included an update to photo viewer in Windows 10.  This feature has created an issue for a limited number of users who are orienting their photos in Windows 10 before loading them into the FileTrac system.   

FileTrac has opened a ticket with Microsoft regarding this update and have been told that Microsoft will review this matter for a later update.  After much research, the same issue is occurring for all platforms who utilize the orientation in Windows 10 when loading images.

Until this matter can be corrected by Microsoft, the following recommendations eliminate the reported errors.

I. The Issue

II. Interim Solution


When you take pictures with your iPhone, iPad, Android, or digital cameras, there is an invisible tag called "Orientation" that is stored in the JPG files.  This Orientation flag describes how many degrees the camera was rotated when the picture was taken. There are 4 possible values for the Orientation flag:


    -Rotate 90 degrees

    -Rotate 180 degrees

    -Rotate 270 degrees

"Normal" means there is no camera rotation.  Each device has its own definition of "Normal" though.  For some devices, "Normal" means the photo was taken with the phone positioned horizontally (landscape view).  For other devices, "Normal" might mean that the photo was taken with the phone positioned vertically (portrait view).  "Rotate x degrees" means that the photo was taken with the phone rotated x degrees (clockwise) from the "Normal" view.  

Prior to Windows 10, most users didn't pay much attention to this Orientation flag.  Originally, if a user tried to edit or resize the images in older versions of Windows (XP, Vista, Windows 7), the images would have been displayed exactly as described by the Orientation flag.  For example, if a photo were taken with Orientation flag of "Rotate 90 degrees", it would be displayed as 90 degrees rotated in File Explorer.

Example 1: The below picture was uploaded in Windows 7.

When editing or resizing this image in Windows, we would know to rotate it 90 degrees counterclockwise, so that when it's uploaded to a website, it would be displayed correctly.  With Windows 10, Microsoft has some built-in intelligence whereas photos auto-rotate (on the fly) to the "Normal" view in File Explorer (see Example 2 below). 

Example 2: This picture is the same picture from Example 1; however, this time, it was uploaded in Windows 10.  Windows 10 has auto-rotated this picture for viewing purposes to make it appear "Normal".

We would happily upload this photo to Facebook or Ebay, only to find out that it was rotated sideways on the website (see screenshot below).  This is because the foreign website displays the photo in its original orientation.

When the photo is handed over to a foreign server (be it a website, email server, etc.), Windows maintains the original state of the photo but does not update the orientation flag to reflect the correct orientation.  Since most foreign servers observe this Orientation flag after the release of the original Windows 10, the photo is displayed in its original state (rotated sideways).  The photo would look "Normal" when viewed in File Explorer because the operating system creates this "illusion" (by rotating the photo 90 degrees counterclockwise).  In reality, the photo is just sitting there sideways!

This was not a problem for older versions of Windows (XP, Vista, Windows 7) because there was no built-in "smartness" in the operating system to auto rotate the images to their "Normal" orientation when viewed in File Explorer.  We can just eyeball the photos and manually rotate the ones that were rotated sideways.  When the photos reach the foreign server, they are displayed just the way they were rotated in Windows.  The older versions of Windows provide users with a WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) view of the photos, while the newer versions of Windows do not. 

Hense, the orientation issue was caused by the new Windows 10 Update which automatically saves the orientation set by the viewer.  This would be acceptable, but the orientation that is being fed by Windows 10 states that the orientation is "Normal" even though the photo may or may not have been re-oriented by the user.  When the file photo comes in, the orientation and visual image of the photo are not the same if the photo has been viewed in Windows 10.  If the photos are loaded and not re-oriented in Windows 10, then the files will load without any errors.

For a work-around to this Windows 10 auto-rotate issue, please see the instructions below.  Simply stated, you will need to identify which photos were rotated by looking at the Orientation flag in File Explorer.


Windows 10 has a hidden feature for orientation of all photos.  This has been a core component in the Windows 10 platform since its release.  To view the orientation of a photo: 

1.     Open File Explorer and browse to the folder where the JPG files are located.

2.     Go to the View menu on top

3.     Click on Details

4.     Click on "Add Columns

5.     Then "Choose Columns".

6.     Scroll down to Orientation and check the checkbox next to it 

7.     Click on "OK".

8.     Scroll to the right to view the "Orientation" column.

When photos are loaded or edited, the Orientation will show you how Windows 10 is orienting the photo.  You can then rotate the images until "Normal" is listed (see below).  You can use the Shift key to select more than one photo (i.e.- select all photos for 'Rotate 270 degrees' to rotate those files at the same time).   

Keep in mind that "Normal" is defined by the device the photos were taken with (iphone, ipad, Android, digital camera, etc).  For some devices, "Normal" means that the photo was taken with the phone positioned horizontally (landscape view), while on other devices, "Normal" means that the photo was taken with the phone positioned vertically (portrait view).

Once the photos are in "Normal" orientation, they can then be uploaded into FileTrac via 'Upload Media Files'.  For photos that need to be rotated vertically (or horizontally), you may do so by using the green arrow buttons located under each photo preview. 


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