Location services activity

Apps on your iPhone can track your location, but you have to give them access first. Here’s how to check which apps can monitor your GPS location and revoke their access.

As important as privacy is, letting some apps track our location makes them much more useful—and sometimes it’s essential. It’s unreasonable to expect Google Maps to work as it should without Google knowing your location, but does that note-taking app need to know where you are? Maybe, maybe not.

Where you stand on these things is a personal decision, and it’s not one we’re here to argue. We’re here to show how to take control of which apps know your location, and when they’re allowed to track it.

It’s also important to remember that some apps need your location data to do their job. Revoking access to your location can stop some important features from working. Keep that in mind when checking which apps can and cannot access your data.

RELATED: Why Do So Many Apps Ask For Your Location, and Which Ones Really Need It?

How to See Which Apps Are Tracking You

To see a list of apps that have requested access to your location data, open the Settings app and tap “Privacy.”

Open Settings and tap Privacy

Next, tap “Location Services.”

Tap Location Services

The next screen will show every app that can request access to your location data. You can also see whether you’ve granted that access and, if so, whether the app can access your location at all times or only when you’re using it.

To drill into a specific app, tap it.

Tap any app you want to edit

Here you can see three different options (and a tick beside the active one):

  • Never: The app will never be allowed to access your location data.
  • When Using the App: Whenever the app is open and active—in other words, when it’s on your iPhone’s screen—it will be allowed to access your data.
  • Always: As the name suggests, if this option is selected the app will be able to access your data whenever it requests it.

Observe the selected option

How to Revoke Access to Location Data

If you decide that you no longer want an app to have access to your location data, you can revoke that access. Open Settings and again tap “Privacy.”

Open Settings and tap Privacy

Tap “Location Services.”

Tap Location Services

Tap the name of the app for which you want to revoke access.

Tap any app you want to edit

To ensure that the app can no longer access your location data, tap “Never.”

Tap Never

How to Tell When an App is Accessing Location Data in the Background

If an app is accessing your location data but isn’t active—in other words, if it’s accessing your location in the background when you’re not using it—iOS will display a blue notification along the top of the screen to alert you.

If you see this notification and don’t know which app is the culprit, tapping it will launch the app in question. You can head to Settings > Privacy > Location Services, tap the app’s name, and tap “Never” or “While Using the App” to prevent it from accessing your location in the background.

Blue clock confirms location is being accessed

Oliver Haslam Oliver Haslam
Oliver Haslam is a professional freelance writer with nearly ten years of experience. His work has been published on Macworld, PCMag, 1Password's blog, and other websites. He writes about all things Apple.
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