Your iPhone uses information from your mobile service, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and GPS to determine your location, and because you almost always have your phone with you, so does your location. This information can be useful in many ways, such as letting others know where you are or finding your phone if you lose your phone. Other times, it’s just more data that services and companies collect about you, which raises privacy concerns.
The good news is that you can tighten your controls so that applications can access your location only when needed.
Switching location settings may vary from phone to phone, depending on your iPhone model and version of iOS. The following instructions have been tested on the iPhone 11 with iOS 15; if you’re using a different version of iOS, it shouldn’t make much of a difference.
Disable location access for specific applications
Location information is useful for some applications (for example, if you want to order food) and necessary for others, such as maps or shared rides. However, if the app asks for your location and you think it doesn’t need data, you can deactivate the location app for it. Here’s how to do it.
- Open Settings.
- Go to “Privacy”> “Location Services”.
- “Location Services” will most likely be enabled. If you don’t want to turn off all location services completely (see below), let it be
- Scroll down to the list of all applications that allow location services. Each item shows the name of the application and the type of permission it has: “Never”, “When sharing” or “When using”. “When sharing” refers to “Ask next time or when sharing”. Meanwhile, “When using” usually means “When using an application”, but can sometimes refer to “When using an application or widgets.”
- To change a specific application’s access to your location data, click on the application list.
Clicking “When using the app” allows this app to access your location when it is open or in the background.
For more ways to restrict location access, click “System Services” at the bottom of the “Location Services” screen. Here you can change location access for a variety of things, including Wi-Fi, time zone, emergency calls, and Apple News and App Store ads relevant to your location.
A small arrow may appear to the left of some service switches. A hollow arrow means that the item has access to your location under certain conditions; a purple arrow means the item recently used your location, while a gray arrow means it used your location sometime in the last 24 hours.
To check if your phone is still collecting location data, go to the bottom of the “System Services” screen and turn on the “Status bar icon” switch. When an application on your phone is accessing your location, an arrow appears at the top of the screen.
If you really want to get off the network, you can turn off location services so that your phone can’t collect location data:
- Open Settings.
- Go to “Privacy”> “Location Services”.
- Turn off the “Location Services” radio button.
- You will be notified that while location services will be disabled for all apps, if you use the “Find My iPhone” feature, it will temporarily go online and report the loss of your phone. Select “Disable”.
If you have an iPhone 11 or later
If you have a phone designed with an Apple U1 chip, such as the iPhone 11 or later, and you have turned off location services for specific applications, the arrow may still appear. According to Apple, this is because these models use ultra-wideband technology, which Apple says is controlled, so phones use location services to determine if they are in an area where the use of ultra-wideband is limited.
The iPhone requests location information when location preferences are set based on the app, so generally turning off location services on your phone will stop these location requests because your phone can’t collect location information.
Share your location with individuals
If you walk alone at night or sit alone in Uber, you may want your friend or family member to know your location in real time. If you have iOS 13 or later, you can use Find My to share your location with family and friends.
- Open Settings. “
- Go to “Privacy” and make sure “Location Services” is turned on.
- Return to the “Settings” main menu and click on your name at the top.
- Select “Find mine”.
- Turn “Share my location” to enable it.
- Then go to Find My. If you are using the application for the first time, you will be asked if you want to access your location. Select “Allow when using app”, “Allow once” or “Disable”.
- You may see a screen explaining that “Find My” can be used with AirTag or AirPods and that there are also applications for watchOS.
- On the map screen that appears, select People at the bottom of the screen.
- Click the “Start Location Sharing” button.
- Enter the phone number or name of your friend or relative in the “To:” field.
- If the selected person has a phone number that is not associated with an iPhone, you will receive a pop-up message. (However, you can share your location.)
- Click Send, and then select Share for an hour, Share until the end of the day, or Share indefinitely.
It will then start sharing your location. To turn it off, click your contact’s name in the “Find my” app under “People,” then click “Stop sharing my location.” Confirm by clicking the “Stop Location Sharing” button that appears.
Send recurring notifications
You can also have your phone send repeated notifications. These are useful if you want your friend or relative to know when you will arrive (or not) at the place.
- In the Find app, tap the People tab at the bottom of the screen.
- Select the person you want to be notified about (this must be someone you already share your location with).
- Scroll down until you see “Notifications” and click “Add.”
- A pop-up window at the bottom gives you the option to notify this person. Select it.
You can notify a person of their arrival or departure from a specific place and send notifications only once or each time you arrive or leave (for example, if you want to inform someone every day when you get home from work).
Share via News
You can also share your location via Messages:
- Open the conversation in News.
- Tap the contact’s name, then tap Information.
- This gives you the option to “Share my location,” which gives you the option to “Share for an hour,” “Share until the end of the day,” or “Share indefinitely.” Click on one of them to start sharing.
- To stop sharing, click “Stop sharing my location,” where “Share my location.” The “Stop sharing my location” button will appear. Click on it.