How to Prevent Inadvertently Revealing Your Location – Your devices and applications really, really want to know where you are so they can give you the weather forecast, suggest places you might like, or better target your advertising. It can be difficult to keep track of what you’re sharing, what you’re not sharing, and when.
Also, it’s likely that you have discrepancies in the multiple location records that your devices have logged: There are instances where you believe you have disabled and banned location sharing but are still being monitored, or the opposite is true.
The goal of this article is to simplify location tracking by going over everything you need to think about. Whether you choose to share your whereabouts with others or not, you should be in charge of these settings and not be surprised by unanticipated choices.
How Location Tracking Can Get Complicated
What happens when you’re sure you turned off location tracking on a gadget, but your location keeps showing up on a map? Or perhaps you discover gaps in your location history even if you believed you’d left the feature on. There are a few reasons, but the main thing to keep in mind is that your gadgets, apps, and the websites you visit can all record your location.
For instance, you might have turned off location monitoring on your phone but enabled it on your tablet. Alternately, even though you believed you had turned off the feature in the apps you use, your laptop can be secretly tracking your whereabouts. You must take into account each of these several methods of determining your location whether you want location tracking to be totally enabled or disabled.
This is a nice example if you have a Google account. Choose Data and Privacy and Location History under Account Settings on the web. Every device in this list with a checkmark next to it is logging your motions to your Google account for later reference. To see all of the phones, tablets, and computers associated with this account, select Devices on This Account.
To turn this off, click Turn Off, but be aware of the warnings given in the confirmation box that pops up on screen: Your mobile devices, the Find My Device service, which helps you find missing hardware, and Google Maps, which you may use to navigate or search the region you’re in, may all still record your location. This Location History setting affects services like the Google Timeline and is more of a general toggle switch.
Depending on the maker of your phone, the procedures for managing your location on Android differ slightly, but the menus and instructions involved are mostly the same. Open Settings on a Google Pixel device, then choose Location: If you turn off the Use Location toggle switch, neither Google nor any of your apps will be able to determine where you are.
If the Use Location toggle switch is left turned on, you can further tailor location access for certain apps on the same screen. Tap on any app in the list to change whether you want to give apps access to your location at all times or just when they are running in the foreground.
The setup is the same for iOS. You may disable location tracking for the phone and all of its apps by choosing Privacy & Security from the Settings menu and then tapping Location Services. If you decide to keep this enabled, you may control which specific apps have access to your location by using the list below. Similar to Android, you can decide whether to allow apps to track your location even when they are not actively operating or to limit their ability to do so.
It takes a lot of work to delete the location information that has been gathered about you because you have to go through every app’s history and privacy settings. You can delete this information for Google and Google’s apps by going to your Google account on the web and selecting either Location History or Web & App Activity under Data and Privacy. Moreover, you can choose to have this data deleted automatically after 3, 18, or 36 months.
Apple doesn’t track your movements precisely the same way, but it does create a list of the locations you usually visit (such as your house and possibly your office) so you can go there again easily. Open Settings on your iPhone, then select Privacy & Security, Location Services, System Services, and Significant Locations to erase this list. You can remove items from this list to prevent it from appearing again.
Using Desktop Location Tracking
Although your laptop or desktop computer is unlikely to have GPS capabilities, it will still be able to determine your location to some extent thanks to apps, websites, and the operating system—most notably thanks to the places from which you access the internet (via your home Wi-Fi, for example).
On Windows, go to Settings and select Location and Privacy & Security. You may disable location tracking for the entire computer or just specific applications, just like on Android and iOS, by using the toggle switches on the right (the option at the top). On the same screen, you can clear your travel history by clicking Clear next to Location History. You can also see which apps have been using your location.
On macOS, you must click the Apple menu and choose System Settings, Privacy & Security, and Location Services to carry out the same procedure. The following page resembles the Windows equivalent in appearance and includes toggle switches for both individual apps and macOS itself. Turn off any of the switches where you do not want location access to be granted. Similar to iOS, you can clear the list of “important sites” Apple has saved for you by clicking Details next to System Services on this screen.