How to Disable or Configure Location Tracking in Windows 10

Windows 10 includes a whole bunch of new privacy settings, all are important in their own right, but perhaps none so much as the location settings. If you’re privacy-conscious, you will definitely want to investigate them further.

As a whole Windows 10’s privacy settings, at least in the most current build, are a lot more extensive and comprehensive than its Windows 8.1 counterpart.

Windows 8.1’s Privacy settings are fairly lacking. There’s some basic stuff here but nothing like we should expect to find on a modern operating system.

One of the most important aspects of any set of privacy options will be the location items, because those are going to tie you and your device to a place, revealing where you are and where you have been. Luckily, Windows 10 includes a better set of location-oriented privacy settings, which we want to discuss in greater detail today.

Disabling Location Globally or Individually

The first and most important difference between Windows 8.1 and Windows 10 is that in the latter, you can now disable location either globally, so it is disabled for all user accounts on that device, or individually, meaning each user can set their own location settings.

First, open up the Settings in Windows 10 and click on the Privacy group. To turn off location just for that account, you can click the button under “Location” to “Off”.

If you want to turn off location for the entire device, however, you want to click the “Change” button, which will then open a new window so you can turn off the “Location for this device”.

If you decide to leave location on, then there are further options you need to check out. First of all there’s your “Location history”. History is stored for a “limited time” for the need of certain apps and services that rely upon it.

To clear the history on your device, simply click the appropriate button.

Below the clear history option are the apps that actually poll your location when you use them. This is no different than on Windows 8.1, and you simply need to go through and click “Off” or “On” any apps you want to disallow or grant (respectively) permission to access your location.

Finally, there’s a new “Geofencing” option. If you don’t know what geofencing is, you’re in luck because we have a great article that explains it.

On Windows 10, if you have an app that is using your location for geofencing, it will show up under the heading. You can then prevent apps from using your location for geofencing by turning them off.

So that’s it for Windows 10’s location settings. Microsoft has obviously given it more time and thought than in Windows 8.1.

It’s important to note and understand, however, these location settings will only apply to apps appearing in the “Choose apps that can use your location” list and any other apps, whether a browser or other desktop program, may still be able to pinpoint your location using your IP address and other basic information. In those cases, you will need to adjust each app’s privacy settings accordingly.

If you have any questions or comments you would like to share, we encourage you to leave your feedback in our discussion forum.

Matt Klein is an aspiring Florida beach bum, displaced honorary Texan, and dyed-in-wool Ohio State Buckeye, who fancies himself a nerd-of-all-trades. His favorite topics might include operating systems, BBQ, roller skating, and trying to figure out how to explain quantum computers.