How to add mandatory Photo Sphere meta data to an equirectangular image


Some information on this post is outdated! Google Views has been migrated to Google Maps / Google Streeet View. Outdated information has been struck through.

Google added a new feature to their set of web based applications recently. Publishing geo located spherical panoramas (aka Photo Spheres) on Views.

In another article, Markus already described the complete workflow which is needed to publish a panoramic image on Views and embed it into your website.

In this article I will describe several methods of writing and displaying the mandatory meta data which is used by a photo sphere.

The methods are

  1. Using the website
  2. Using ExifToolGUI, ExifTool and a special workspace definition file (Windows only, read and write)
  3. Using a batch file and ExifTool (command-line only, droplet for Windows available, read and write)
  4. Using a custom metadata panel within Photoshop (tested with PS C6, PS CC, read and write)
  5. ExifMetaLrPlugin for Lightroom (tested with Lr 4, read)

As a prerequisite we assume that you already have geotagged your images. It is important to note, that you need at least latitude, longitude and the heading in the final image. For example you can do this with Geosetter on Windows, or with ExifTool.

1. Using the website

Google set up the website, where you can upload a JPG image and populate the required metadata. Unfortunately you have to be online and you have to up- and download the files. And not every filetype is supported. Otherwise it works fine, you just have to follow the instructions on the website.

2. ExifToolGUI and the GPano workspace

As ExifToolGUI is only available for Windows, you can skip to the other solutions if you run a different operating system on your machine.

First install the latest version of ExifTool by Phil Harvey. Be sure to get the stand-alone Windows executable, extract it to a path of your choice and rename it to


and copy it to a location which is already part of your search path.

Then install the latest version of ExifToolGUI as described on the homepage in section “2. ExifToolGUI” at the top of the page.

Save the following lines to a path of your choice with the filename

Image Width=-ImageWidth^[8000] Don't change unless you know, what you do!
Image Height=-ImageHeight^[4000] Don't change unless you know, what you do!
GPS Latitude=-GPS:GPSLatitude^No Hint defined
GPS Longitude=-GPS:GPSLongitude^No Hint defined
Heading (EXIF)=-GPS:GPSImgDirection^[120.15] Direction in ° from [0] to [359.99]
StitchingSoftware=-XMP-GPano:StitchingSoftware^[PTGui Pro 9.1.8]
ProjectionType=-XMP-GPano:ProjectionType^only [equirectangular] is currently supported by Google products
UsePanoramaViewer=-XMP-GPano:UsePanoramaViewer^[TRUE] if image should show as photosphere
Heading (Pano)=-XMP-GPano:PoseHeadingDegrees^[135] direction in the middle of the image in degrees. N=0, E=90, S=180, W=270
CroppedWidth=-XMP-GPano:CroppedAreaImageWidthPixels^[8000] for full spheres the same as FullPanoWidth
CroppedHeight=-XMP-GPano:CroppedAreaImageHeightPixels^[4000] for full spheres the same as FullPanoHeight
FullPanoWidth=-XMP-GPano:FullPanoWidthPixels^[8000] width of image canvas
FullPanoHeight=-XMP-GPano:FullPanoHeightPixels^[4000] heigth of image canvas
CroppedLeft=-XMP-GPano:CroppedAreaLeftPixels^[0] within full sphere
CroppedTop=-XMP-GPano:CroppedAreaTopPixels^[0] within full sphere

Open the file with ExifToolGUI (Menu>Program>Workspace definition file>Load…). Open the Metadata panel and open the Workspace. You should see the following workspace:

As reference the next screenshot shows an already populated photo sphere:

3. ExifTool via command-line

First install the latest version of ExifTool by Phil Harvey for your operating system.

Start exiftool from the command-line with the following parameters:

-ProjectionType="equirectangular" -UsePanoramaViewer="True" -"PoseHeadingDegrees<$exif:GPSImgDirection" -"CroppedAreaImageWidthPixels<$ImageWidth" -"CroppedAreaImageHeightPixels<$ImageHeight" -"FullPanoWidthPixels<$ImageWidth" -"FullPanoHeightPixels<$ImageHeight" -CroppedAreaLeftPixels="0" -CroppedAreaTopPixels="0"

Of course you also have to add a filename. If you supply the filename of a panoramic image in equirectangular format, which covers the full sphere, you get a photo sphere with the same name of the original image.

If you create a batch file on the desktop of a Windows machine with the following content:

FOR %%A IN (%*) DO (
"C:\Program Files (x86)\Geo\GeoSetter\tools\exiftool.exe" -ProjectionType="equirectangular" -UsePanoramaViewer="True" -"PoseHeadingDegrees<$exif:GPSImgDirection" -"CroppedAreaImageWidthPixels<$ImageWidth" -"CroppedAreaImageHeightPixels<$ImageHeight" -"FullPanoWidthPixels<$ImageWidth" -"FullPanoHeightPixels<$ImageHeight" -CroppedAreaLeftPixels="0" -CroppedAreaTopPixels="0" %%A

Then you have a droplet on which you can drop an equirectangular panoramic image which covers the full sphere and it gets populated with the required fields to be accepted as a photo sphere. If your image supplies the GPS-heading it's also compliant with the requirements of Google-Maps.

4. Metadata panel and Photoshop

First you have to check the documentation of Adobes Custom File Info Panel to identify the proper location for the File Panels. On a Windows system running PS CC the files are located in

C:\Users\[Username]\AppData\Roaming\Adobe\XMP\Custom File Info Panels\4.0\panels

Create a directory named


Create a file named


with the following content:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
Copyright 2013 by Jürgen Matern (/author/juergen/)
This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0
License (
In short: you are free to share and make derivative works of the file under
the conditions that you appropriately attribute it and that you distribute
it only under a license identical to this one.
Photosphere File Info Panel (properties.xml)
This panel implements the specific XMP fields of Photospheres.
Additionally it displays additional fields of the image as read only fields.
<xmp_definitions xmlns:ui="">
	<xmp_schema prefix="GPano" namespace="" label="$$$/Custom/GPano/Photosphere=Photosphere" description="$$$/Custom/GPano/Description/Photosphere=This schema displays the required properties for photospheres.">
		<xmp_property name="StitchingSoftware" category="external" label="$$$/Custom/GPano/StitchingSoftware=Stitching Software:" type="openchoice" ui:width="20%">
			<xmp_choice raw_value="PTGui Pro 9.1.8" label="PTGui Pro 9.1.8"/>
			<xmp_choice raw_value="PTGui 9.1.8" label="PTGui 9.1.8"/>
			<xmp_choice raw_value="Hugin" label="Hugin"/>
		<xmp_property name="ProjectionType" category="external" label="$$$/Custom/GPano/ProjectionType=Pano Projection:" description="$$$/Custom/GPano/Description/ProjectionType=Currently Google applications only support equirectangular projection." type="closedchoice" ui:width="20%">
			<xmp_choice raw_value="equirectangular" label="$$$/Custom/GPano/equirectangular=equirectangular"/>
			<xmp_choice raw_value="" label="$$$/Custom/GPano/none=none specified"/>
		<xmp_property name="UsePanoramaViewer" category="external" label="$$$/Custom/GPano/UsePanoramaViewer=Use Panorama Viewer:" type="boolean" />
		<xmp_property name="PoseHeadingDegrees" category="external" label="$$$/Custom/GPano/PoseHeadingDegrees=Heading (at center of image):" description="$$$/Custom/GPano/Description/PoseHeadingDegrees=This field is only mandatory for Google Maps." type="real" ui:width="15%"/>
		<xmp_property name="CroppedAreaImageWidthPixels" category="external" label="$$$/Custom/GPano/CroppedAreaImageWidthPixels=Cropped Area Image Width:" type="integer" ui:format="{0} pixel" ui:width="15%"/>
		<xmp_property name="CroppedAreaImageHeightPixels" category="external" label="$$$/Custom/GPano/CroppedAreaImageHeightPixels=Cropped Image Heigth:" type="integer" ui:format="{0} pixel" ui:width="15%"/>
		<xmp_property name="FullPanoWidthPixels" category="external" label="$$$/Custom/GPano/FullPanoWidthPixels=Full Pano Width:" type="integer" ui:format="{0} pixel" ui:width="15%"/>
		<xmp_property name="FullPanoHeightPixels" category="external" label="$$$/Custom/GPano/FullPanoHeightPixels=Full Pano Heigth:" type="integer" ui:format="{0} pixel" ui:width="15%"/>
		<xmp_property name="CroppedAreaLeftPixels" category="external" label="$$$/Custom/GPano/CroppedAreaLeftPixels=Cropped Pixels Left:" type="integer" ui:format="{0} pixel" ui:width="15%"/>
		<xmp_property name="CroppedAreaTopPixels" category="external" label="$$$/Custom/GPano/CroppedAreaTopPixels=Cropped Pixels Top:" type="integer" ui:format="{0} pixel" ui:width="15%"/>
	<xmp_schema prefix="exif" namespace="" label="$$$/Custom/EXIF/Fieldname/ImageDimensions=Image Dimensions" description="$$$/Custom/EXIF/Description/IMageDimensions=This schema displays the image dimensions from the EXIF header.">
		<xmp_property name="PixelXDimension" category="internal" label="$$$/Custom/EXIF/Fieldname/PixelXDimension=Image Width:" type="integer" ui:format="{0} pixel" />
		<xmp_property name="PixelYDimension" category="internal" label="$$$/Custom/EXIF/Fieldname/PixelYDimension=Image Height:" type="integer" ui:format="{0} pixel" />
	<xmp_schema prefix="exif" namespace="" label="$$$/Custom/EXIF/Fieldname/GPSCoordinates=GPS coordinates" description="$$$/Custom/EXIF/Description/GPSCoordinates=This schema displays the GPS coordinates from the EXIF header.">
		<xmp_property name="GPSLongitude" category="internal" label="$$$/Custom/EXIF/Fieldname/GPSLongitude=GPS longitude (camera):" type="text"/>
		<xmp_property name="GPSLatitude" category="internal" label="$$$/Custom/EXIF/Fieldname/GPSLatitude=GPS latitude (camera):" type="text"/>
		<xmp_property name="GPSAltitude" category="internal" label="$$$/Custom/EXIF/Fieldname/GPSAltitude=GPS altitude (camera):" type="text"/>
		<xmp_property name="GPSImgDirection" category="internal" label="$$$/Custom/EXIF/Fieldname/GPSImgDirection=GPS image direction:" type="real"/>
		<xmp_property name="GPSDestLongitude" category="internal" label="$$$/Custom/EXIF/Fieldname/GPSDestLongitude=GPS longitude (motif):" type="text"/>
		<xmp_property name="GPSDestLatitude" category="internal" label="$$$/Custom/EXIF/Fieldname/GPSDestLatitude=GPS latitude (motif):" type="text"/>

Create a second file named


with the following content:

Copyright 2013 by Jürgen Matern (/author/juergen/)
This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0
License (
In short: you are free to share and make derivative works of the file under
the conditions that you appropriately attribute it and that you distribute
it only under a license identical to this one.
Photosphere File Info Panel (manifest.xml)
<xfi:fileinfo xmlns:xfi="">
			name = "Photosphere"
			label = "Photosphere"
			description = "Properties for Photospheres"  
			type = "generic"
			version = "1.0.5"
			panelLibrary = "generic"
			panelClass = "examples.panels.generic.GenericPanel"
			propertyDescriptionFile = "properties.xml"			
			localizationFile = "Photosphere"			
			modifyDate = "2013-08-25Z"

Then open the file info dialog of Photoshop. When all the metadata is missing, the new dialog looks like this:
Custom file info panel within Photoshop CC, unpopulated
And the following screenshot shows the dialog, when the metadata fields are already populated.
Custom file info panel within Photoshop CC, populated

5. ExifMetaLrPlugin for Lightroom

First install the latest version of ExifTool by Phil Harvey for your operating system. Then install the latest version of ExifMetaLrPlugin. Configure the plugin to display the metadata. Unfortunately this solution is read only at the time of the writing of the article. 

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This article presents new versions of some Pixel Bender and Mathmap scripts with which you can apply a Droste effect to images. The changes to the older versions of the scripts are, that you are now able to use the same parameters on both scripting engines.

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This panorama shows a view from the terrace of the Roland Levinsky building.
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About juergen

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32 Responses to How to add mandatory Photo Sphere meta data to an equirectangular image

  1. Pingback: Five easy steps to publish a spherical panorama using Google Views | PanoTwins

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  4. Thank you very much. Gracias!

  5. Thanks a lot for these bright explanations, Jürgen !

  6. Bill says:

    Thanks… This was a huge help!

  7. Smalls says:

    I’m having trouble turning the Photoshop process into an action for adding this photosphere metadata in batch to a directory of many panos. Anyone have tips on this?

    • markus says:

      Maybe point 3. from the article helps? A command line with exiftool can do the trick. The batch file however would be a little different, when you are not using Windows!

  8. Andy says:

    I’ve followed your instructions for ExifToolGui and can see the additional workspace fields, but when I enter any values, the ‘Save’ button is greyed out. Any idea why?

    • Andy says:

      To answer my own question: Hit return after entering a value into the bottom box, then when you’ve made the necessary changes, click on save to update all the image metadata!

  9. Fred B. says:

    just a note for anyone using photoshop cs4

    the file path should be this:
    C:\Users\[Username]\AppData\Roaming\Adobe\XMP\Custom File Info Panels/2.0/panels/

    make a folder called photosphere

    go to and download “XMP FileInfo SDK 4.4.2 (for CS4)” .unzip it and copy everything from tools/generic (there should be a total of 5 files and 2 folders) to the above photosphere folder

    replace the manifest.xml and properties.xml files with the ones on this page

    if you open photoshop you’ll see a tab for photosphere on the file info screen but the panel won’t show up in photoshop until you add a trust file

    close photoshop

    go here:
    C:\Users\[Username]\AppData\Roaming\Macromedia\Flash Player\#Security\FlashPlayerTrust\

    create a text file with this one line in it (remember to replace [username])
    C:\Users\[Username]\AppData\Roaming\Adobe\XMP\Custom File Info Panels\2.0\panels\

    save it as photosphere.cfg

    you’ve now told flash it’s ok to open the panel,open photoshop and the panel should work now

  10. Fred B. says:

    if you want to be able to add/edit the gps data from photoshop open properties.xml and on these lines change “internal” to “external” then save it

    <xmp_property name="GPSLongitude" category="internal"
    <xmp_property name="GPSLatitude" category="internal"
    <xmp_property name="GPSAltitude" category="internal"
    <xmp_property name="GPSImgDirection" category="internal"
    <xmp_property name="GPSDestLongitude" category="internal"
    <xmp_property name="GPSDestLatitude" category="internal"

  11. Hi,
    I’ve tried the Exiftool-Batch but it it warned me the following:

    Warning: Tag ‘ProjectionType’ does not exist
    Warning: Tag ‘UsePanoramaViewer’ does not exist
    Warning: Tag ‘CroppedAreaLeftPixels’ does not exist
    Warning: Tag ‘CroppedAreaTopPixels’ does not exist
    Warning: No writable tags found – C:/…/MY.jpg
    0 image files updated
    1 image files unchanged

    How could I make exiftool creates the missing Tags?
    Could you please give me the edited batch file text?

    Thanx a lot,

    • Sorry, I used an old version of exiftool from 2011.

      This old version did not know these Tags yet. So the warning meant, that those not existing Tags in the year 2011 were not defined in the standard .

      • Hennes says:

        Thanks for replying to yourself with the solution. Helped me, having had the same problem! Cheers, Hennes

  12. Jelle Goosens says:

    Is it possible to add the required metadata to non-360 panoramic images? I’ve made quite a few in the past using Autopano, but they lack the XMP tags. They do contain some FOV and similar info in an ASCII string. Maybe that can be used as values for the GPano tags?

    • markus says:

      This should be possible, however I never actually tried it myself. I think you may need do do some calculations to get everything right. I’m not sure what happens when the values are not correct. Maybe you could experiment using your phone and taking a partial photo sphere?

  13. Jukka says:

    Thanks for this tutorial, makes it easy to convert panoramas for Samsung Gear VR! 🙂

  14. ale says:

    i am trying to add metadata to a equirectangular image, in order to add it too street view.
    i tried all methods, without success…
    the easiest one seems to be usinf exiftoolgui (method n°2), but when i change the values in the workspace and i clic the save button, i get this message, for each value i try to change:

    Warning: Tag ‘gpsgpslatitude’ does not exist
    Warning: Tag ‘gpsgpslongitude’ does not exist

    anyone can help me?
    thank you,

  15. Nicolas says:

    Thanks a lot, you made my day. I’ve been trying to import panorama to Google Sphere for a while, solution 3 did the trick !

  16. Wallace Karraker says:

    FWIW ExifToolGUI (v 0.5) and ExifTool work quit well on OSX (10.11). By following the websites instructions I was able to install both packages in less than 5 minutes. One caveat though, if the ExifToolGUI app crashes when opening the first time locate and delete the ‘pyexiftoolgui.plist’ file in your Preferences. The next time the app is loaded it will recreate with the proper settings.

  17. Jason says:

    Wow. just skimming through this it seems highly complicated!! I would love to publish some of my panos but none of these seems options seem to explain how to on a mac. And the website – has an error. I have been searching for months to try and publish a pano. I submitted an equalrectangular image but it came out as a flat image. Clearly I am totally confused by googles submission process. Can anyone please explain a simpler process??

  18. markus says:

    Hi Jason,

    have you tried also?

    One easy way is to use the Street View App on Android or iOS:

    Hope this helps!
    PanoTwin Markus

  19. Retch says:

    i tested it but my result is very distorted. What do I did wrong? Can you anyone help me? The Image:

  20. Leo says:

    thanks for the great tutorial. It worked for me totaly fine with my fist panorama, however the second one doesn’t get displayed as a photoshere ( Do you have any idea whats wrong with the picture? Thanks!

    • markus says:

      Hi Leo,

      the problem with your image is the wrong Meta Data!

      See the fixed result here:

      The meta data of your image had the following relevant values:
      Wrong Meta Data

      This however does not describe your panorama correctly!
      Here are the values I used:
      Fixed Meta Data

      I scaled the image down 3 pixels to a width of 29500 and changed the following values:
      Cropped Area Image Width: 29500
      Full Pano Width: 29500
      Full Pano Height: 14750

      I think the two problems were:
      1) Your aspect ratio was 29503×14751 This is not 2×1, which it should always be for an equirectangular panorama!
      2) Your value for Cropped Area Image Width was larger than the complete panos width Full Pano Width

      I hope this helps,
      PanoTwin Markus

      PS: I like your location. This is where I grew up. Bad Hindelang in Bavaria, the south of Germany. I shot some spherical panoramas quite nearby: and

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