iPhone and iPad

How to Track and Locate Your iPhone Using Location Services

Tim Brookes 12-12-2019

Your smartphone’s ability to pinpoint your exact location goes way beyond simple navigation. GPS is used for web searches to deliver relevant local results, in dating apps to find you a nearby date, and as a safety net when you lose your device.


Knowing how to customize your location settings is important, since location tracking presents a real privacy risk. Today we’ll look at how you can manage those settings, as well as sharing your location and finding your friends.

How to Turn On/Off Location Services on iPhone

To turn on Location Services on your iPhone:

  1. Launch Settings, scroll down the list, and tap Privacy.
  2. Tap Location Services and make sure the toggle is set to On.

Every app that has requested access to your location will appear below this option. It’s here you can easily revoke access, or grant access to an app you have previously denied. It’s a good idea to periodically check this list, since many apps can check on your location in the background.

track iphone location - Apps Using Location Services on iOS

While GPS used to consume a large chunk of battery power, location technology is way more efficient than it once was. Motion co-processors reduce the reliance on a “GPS fix” by reducing the number of satellite requests your device has to make.


It’s also required to use most mapping apps, exercise trackers, food delivery services, and ride sharing apps. There’s no need to disable Location Services on your iPhone anymore It's Time to Stop Disabling GPS on Your iPhone Whether it's to conserve battery life or to stop the NSA tracking your every move, it's likely your reasons for crippling your iPhone's ability to locate you aren't justified. Read More .

How to Send Your Location Using Your iPhone

To share your location using Messages:

  1. Launch Messages and find the contact you would like to share your location with (you may need to create a new chat).
  2. Tap the Info button in the top-right corner of the screen.
  3. Tap Send My Current Location to instantly acquire and share an Apple Maps link.

track iphone location - Send iPhone Location via Messages

To share your location using Apple Maps:

  1. Launch Maps and wait for the app to acquire your location.
  2. Tap on the blue flashing location pin to bring up the My Location pane at the bottom of the screen.
  3. Select Share My Location followed by your sharing method: AirDrop, Messages, Mail, Facebook, or another medium of your choice.

track iphone location - Share Location from Apple Maps

To share your location using Google Maps:

  1. Download and launch Google Maps for iPhone.
  2. Wait for the app to acquire your location, then tap on the blue location pin.
  3. Choose to share with select individuals, via Messages, or hit More to reveal the full sharing menu.

track iphone location - Share Location from Google Maps

Note: Google Maps creates a real-time sharing link which others can use to track your location, rather than a link to a static location.


How to Permanently Share Your Location on iPhone

To share your location permanently from an iPhone, you’re best off using Apple’s own Find My Friends service. This service only works within the Apple ecosystem, so your friends will need iPhones too.

You can also share with non-Apple devices using Google Maps How to Track Your Friends Using Google Maps You can now share your real-time location using Google Maps. This also means you can track your friends using Google Maps. Read More , but it won’t be as reliable.

To permanently share your location using iMessage:

  1. Launch Messages and find the contact you want to share your location with (you may need to start a new chat).
  2. Tap the Info button in the top-right corner of the screen.
  3. Tap Share My Location then choose between One Hour, End of Day, or Indefinitely.

track iphone location - Share iPhone Location Indefinitely


To permanently share your location using Find My Friends:

  1. Download and launch Find My Friends.
  2. Tap Add in the top-right corner.
  3. Specify a contact with whom you want to share your location (they will need to approve the invitation with their Apple ID).

track iphone location - Share Location with Find my Friends

To permanently share your location using Google Maps:

  1. Download and launch Google Maps for iPhone.
  2. Let the app determine your location then tap the blue location pin.
  3. Choose Share My Location then choose Until you turn this off.
  4. Tap Select People and specify who you want to share your location with.

Note: Find My Friends is a feature integrated into your iPhone’s operating system, so it functions as a service rather than a third-party app. Google Maps, on the other hand, is restricted to Apple’s approved background processes like any regular app.

As a result, Google Maps likely won’t be as reliable as Apple’s baked-in technology.

How to Check Who Can See Your iPhone Location

To see who can detect your device location using Find My Friends and iMessage:

  1. Launch Settings, scroll down, and tap Privacy.
  2. Select Location Services followed by Share My Location.
  3. Browse the list to see who can track your location.
  4. Tap on a contact, scroll to the bottom of the page, and select Stop Sharing My Location where necessary.

track iphone location - Location Sharing Recipients

If you have set up location sharing in Google Maps, you’ll need to disable it within the app:

  1. Launch Google Maps and tap on the blue location pin.
  2. Select Share My Location then Until you turn this off.
  3. Tap Select People and revoke access to your location as you see fit.

How to Track and Find Your Own iPhone

If your iPhone is missing, you can locate it provided Find My iPhone is turned on. This feature is automatically enabled when you activate your iPhone, so unless you’ve specifically turned it off you should be able to locate your device:

  1. Visit iCloud.com in a web browser and log in with your Apple ID and password.
  2. Click on Find iPhone and wait while the location request goes out.
  3. Select All Devices at the top of the screen and select your iPhone (or any other device you want to locate).

Find My iPhone lets you play a sound to try and locate your device, enable Lost Mode, or initiate a remote erase. You can also see your current battery level. When your battery dies, Find My iPhone will report the last known location.

track iphone location - Find My iPhone

If you have another iOS device like an iPad, you can locate all of your Apple devices with the Find My iPhone app. The Find My iPhone feature is also important to make Face ID more secure on iPhone X.

For more on iPhone features that aren’t obvious, check out these secret features of iPhone that will impress your friends 7 Secret iPhone Features That Will Impress Your Friends Want to dig up some of the fun tricks your iPhone has in store? Have a look at these features that will impress your friends. Read More .

How to See Someone Else’s iPhone Location

Provided your friends have already invited you to track their location, use any of the following methods to find them:

  • Download and launch the Find My Friends app. Anyone currently sharing their location (and any invitations) will show here. Simply tap on them to see their current location on a map.
  • Open the relevant Messages chat and tap on the Info button in the top-right corner. Your contact’s location will appear on a map.
  • Login with your Apple ID at iCloud.com and click on Find My Friends.

track iphone location - Track People with Find My Friends

How to Set Up iPhone Location Notifications

You can choose to receive a notification when a contact either leaves their current location or nears another, provided they are already sharing their location with you.

  1. Download and launch Find My Friends on your iPhone.
  2. Select a contact and wait for their location to update.
  3. Tap Notify Me at the top of the page and specify your notification criteria (tap Other to adjust the location and geofence How You Can Use Geofencing to Improve Your Privacy & Security Geofencing uses GPS to define geographical boundaries, and can prove very useful in managing your personal security. Read More ).
  4. Hit Done to finalize the alert.

track iphone location - Location Notifications on iPhone

Location Sharing Is Caring

The perks of using your iPhone’s GPS abilities to share your location with friends and family vastly outweighs the battery life you’d save by turning off Location Services. Just be mindful of which apps and contacts you grant access to your location, and review the list periodically to avoid any nasty surprises.

Want to track your car What's the Best GPS Tracker for Your Car? A GPS tracker for your car lets you keep track of it anywhere. Here are the best car GPS tracker units for a variety of uses. Read More , but don’t want to use your iPhone? Get a separate a GPS tracker:

Related topics: GPS, Location Data, Maps.

Affiliate Disclosure: By buying the products we recommend, you help keep the site alive. Read more.

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  1. Rene
    April 13, 2019 at 9:17 am

    Thank you for the guide. Really thoroughly made article. I will try it next time on my Android.