How to Convert the GPS Coordinates in Lightroom’s Map Module to Decimal Format

Lightroom’s map module uses GPS coordinates in the degrees, minutes, and seconds format. If you need them in decimal degree format, here’s a quick way to convert them.

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Lightroom’s map module uses GPS coordinates in the degrees, minutes, and seconds format (DMS), like this: 38°53'21.07" N 77°3'0.389" W.

While that’s a perfectly valid coordinates format and the way many cameras and GPS tracking devices use it, it’s not always the most convenient format, especially if you’re looking to use the coordinates in some other app or device. Many of those use the cleaner decimal degree (DD) format for latitude and longitude, such as: 38.897676, -77.036530.

In my case, I use the coordinates to display maps on my website. But the map app I use to display them (Mappress Pro, if you’re interested) doesn’t accept coordinates in that format. Like many other apps and devices, it uses the decimal degree format.

I wish there was a preference setting in Lightroom to change the format that coordinates are display in, but there isn’t. And it’s not as simple as just stripping out the extra characters like the degree symbol or the minutes and seconds marks–that will lead to invalid coordinates.

Thankfully, though, there’s a quick and easy way to convert the format.

The long way is to copy the coordinates and paste them into a Google search. Chances are that one of the top results will come back with a decimal version. But that’s messy and tedious.

There’s a more direct way to do it. That is to ALT-click on the small arrow just to the right of the GPS coordinates in the Map or Library modules.

If you don’t have the ALT button pressed while you do it, it will simply center the map. But if you ALT-click, it will go directly to a new browser tab window with Google Maps (so yes, you’ll need to be connected to the internet). There are two places on that page where the coordinates will be display in decimal degree format. Something like this:

You can then copy and paste those decimal coordinates into your app.

Other Options

Online. There are also more comprehensive coordinate conversion tools available. The one I often use is Earth Point, which can convert back and forth as well as provides batch conversion. Other good options include the simple converter offered by the FCC here or the map-based option here.

Manually. If you’re more inclined to go back to basics and do it the old-fashioned way, here’s a good explanation of the formula to use.

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by David Coleman

I'm a freelance travel photographer based in Washington DC. Seven continents, up mountains, underwater, and a bunch of places in between. My images have appeared in numerous publications, and you can check out some of my travel photography here. I've been using Lightroom for years, from back before it was Lightroom (RawShooter). More »

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