To the best of your knowledge, do images created with Photoshop and/or other commercial software embed any bits of information that can allow someone (governments, security agencies?) to trace the image back to the package & serial number the image was created with?

How hard can it be to do it?

  • @schroeder: I would say yes, and it would be invisible to the eye, it would be embedded in the binary structure of the file. This would be different than the metadata information about the image that I know could be attached to a png file.
    – costa
    Jul 7, 2015 at 21:38
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    In short, you're asking about the software using steganography to embed metadata about the software and host into the image.
    – schroeder
    Jul 7, 2015 at 21:47
  • @schroeder: Yes. I guess it is a form of steganography.
    – costa
    Jul 7, 2015 at 21:52
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    That would be pretty easy to check: Have two people with the same version of the software create an image with exactly the same easily reproducible operations, save it, and see if the files differ.
    – Philipp
    Jul 7, 2015 at 22:18

1 Answer 1


This would be difficult to conceal, for a number of reasons:

  • Most image formats used these days have well-documented formats, and are interchanged between different companies' software, so extra fields would be difficult to conceal

  • Lossless formats (e.g. PNG, GIF) would by definition not allow such modification; in practice it could be done, but it's likely users would notice

  • Lossy formats would allow such seganography, but there are likely too many formats and too many software companies for there to be any concerted effort that has yet to be publicized.

On a separate note, many (most? all?) manufacturers of color printers DO print almost-invisible pattern of yellow dots on each output page, encoding information about the printer, probably as an anti-counterfeiting tracing device

  • And that is a very good measure. You wouldn't want anyone trying to shuffle fake money into your hand and hope you don't pay attention.
    – munchkin
    Jul 8, 2015 at 0:42
  • Well, there's no way the dots will make it more obvious that a bill is counterfeit; it's (reputedly) to ease the tracing of a specific bill to the printer (and presumably printer's owner). Jul 8, 2015 at 0:50

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