How to Fix a Digital Photo Turned Sideways

A flawed or missing tag causes the problem, but it's easy to resolve

Most digital cameras include a rotation sensor that writes an orientation EXIF tag into the file that tells the software how to turn the photo for display. That tag, if it's corrupt or inaccurate, yields improperly rotated images on your computer.

Photo editor working on computer.
Westend61 / Getty Images

Causes of Sideways Photos

Photos appear sideways when the software that displays those images cannot read the orientation tag or the tag is missing or corrupted.

How to Fix Sideways Photos

To re-orient your photos, try any of these solutions:

  1. Open the image in an image-editing program that displays EXIF information. Adobe Photoshop does, as well as the free IrfanView. In IrfanView, the Image > Information command shows basic data, and a button at the bottom of the window opens a separate EXIF data display. If the image does not show EXIF data, then the software cannot orient it properly.

  2. Use Windows Explorer to modify or remove EXIF data. Right-click the image and select Details to reveal a screen with metadata, including EXIF data, that you can adjust if the image supports it.

  3. Force a preferred orientation. Rotate the image, then save it. That process reconstructs the image along the requested dimensions.