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I know there are a couple workarounds for this but I was hoping a direct solution exists.

I am looking for an image editor (like Photoshop but hopefully free software) which can be used to edit GeoTIFFs without removing their georeferencing information upon saving/exporting the edited file. I know that I can create a .TFW file to avoid this problem, but I'd like to avoid creating an extra file and would prefer to keep them as GeoTIFFs (.TIFF images with the georeferencing information embedded in them).

I've tried the GIMP, PhotoFiltre, LazPaint, and Paint.NET, none of them save the TIFF's georeferencing data when saving the edited image.

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  • Manifold is good but probably overkill and not free.
    – mdsumner
    Sep 30, 2014 at 7:57

3 Answers 3

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There are two programs using the libgeotiff library that will let you export and import georeferencing info from GeoTIFFs (and other image file formats): listgeo for saving the georeferencing info into a file, and geotifcp for writing the info from that file back to the image file after it's been edited. Downloads for the libgeotiff library can be found here: http://download.osgeo.org/geotiff/libgeotiff/, the two utilities you'll need are in this particular file.

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  • Thanks, that was one of the workarounds I found and probably what I'll use, I was just hoping there was an editor that would make it unnecessary..
    – Dan C
    Sep 29, 2014 at 18:38
  • Looks like both of these links are dead--would you be willing to update the urls?
    – Aaron
    Jan 23, 2017 at 17:00
  • This is still the only workaround I know of for this problem.
    – Dan C
    Apr 21, 2017 at 14:18
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Try using Paint.NET.

As of my last testing (GIMP, Affinity, Photoshop), this is the only "traditional" image editing software to properly preserve GeoTIFF metadata. Be aware that at current, not all bit-depths found in GeoTIFFs are supported, but "major" ones are (32bit, 24bit, 16bit, etc).

Fixed: EXIF metadata of type Float and Double are now supported.
This ensures GeoTIFF metadata is preserved.

See the Paint.NET release notes here:
https://blog.getpaint.net/2019/09/18/paint-net-4-2-2-is-now-available/

@EvenRouault @nyalldawson @qgis @OSGeo
Absolutely awesome work, Rick!
Thanks so much!
This opens up the door to SO many possibilities, especially when redacting/modifying/cleaning up imagery.
I can't thank you enough for your hard work on this!

See a tweet testing this capability here:
https://twitter.com/Brett_E_Carlock/status/1174447891169103872 enter image description here enter image description here

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  • 1
    In my case 24bit and 8bit export from Paint.NET works, but 32bit export doesn't work: a image georeferenced with QGIS (georeferencer plung-in) that I edited with Paint.NET and exported 32bit, doesn't load back in QGIS: error "Invalid Data Source"
    – Alex P.
    Mar 31, 2020 at 8:39
  • Interesting. I've not experienced that. Can you provide Paint.NET version and the raster so I can test locally? Mar 31, 2020 at 13:51
  • Was able to reproduce locally. Going to follow up with PDN developer. Mar 31, 2020 at 20:18
  • Starting with v2.10.24 (March 2021) Gimp knows about and keeps geotiff tags intact. I successfully edited a 5.5 GB SPOT6 image to add a nodata mask with Gimp today. It needed 45 GB of RAM though, and patience between operations. Jan 13, 2022 at 17:55
  • 1
    Read this and tried Paint.net 5.0.8, it worked great. I could add layers to use for editing and so long as they were merged before saving the edits as a Tiff, the geolocation was preserved. Also, the file size was reduced considerably, sometimes to about 10 percent of the file size after using QGIS's Georeferencer. So, yes, thank you Rick Brewster for your excellent Paint.net. Be sure to not change the size of the image even one pixel once it has been georeferenced.
    – JJD
    Aug 9, 2023 at 7:56
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Super easy way to do it, at least for Google Earth. Just make a copy of your original TIFF (File 2), then edit the Original File (File 1) in any software you like and overwrite it (don't panic, you have a copy). Then go to import dialog in Google Earth, select the copy you made (File 2) but in the "Link" celd select the edited Original File (File 1) and BOOM!

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