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How to turn off location tracking on Android
Tips & Tricks Google Android for Beginners 4 min read 13 comments

How to turn off location tracking on Android

The very first time you set up an Android device, you’ll be asked if you want to share your location data. If you say yes, then Google automatically adds your movements to your Location History, which you can look at in the Timeline section of your Google Account.

Location history can provide useful information such as automatic commute predictions or improved search results. But not everybody is comfortable with their every step being tracked. Even if you trust Google, if you lose your device then that data could be seen by somebody with malicious intent. Here’s how to turn off Android location tracking if you no longer want it.

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How to turn off location tracking

From your Android phone

Just follow these simple steps to turn off location tracking

  1. Open Settings
  2. Scroll down to Security & Location, then hit Location
  3. You’ll see an on/off switch in the top right. Use this to turn location services on or off altogether.
  4. Tap on Location > Google Location History
  5. Once again there’s a button in the top right that lets you turn your location history on or off
location
How to find location settings in Android 8.1. / © AndroidPIT (screenshot)

From your computer

On a computer, go into https://myaccount.google.com/activitycontrols > Activity Controls > Manage Activity and then toggle the bar on Pause Location History; a pop-up tells you what you are and aren’t disabling, and provides a link to where you can delete your location history altogether.

pauselocation
Google explains what it does with your location data whenever you toggle it. / © AndroidPIT

Going to https://www.google.com/maps/timeline and opening the settings cog icon in the lower right side will also give you options to pause location history, delete it or download your data.

How to delete your location history on Android

  1. If you also want to delete your location history, you can do that here too: under Location History tap the three dots in the top right, then hit View/Manage.
  2. Hit the three dots once more, then Settings 
  3. You should now be in a section named Personal content
  4. From here you can Delete all Location History or select Delete Location History range to delete just a part of it. Once deleted this information can’t be recovered.

How to turn off location tracking on an iPhone or iPad

If you have an Android phone and an Apple tablet or an Android tablet and an Apple Phone, you’ll need to check the iOS location settings too: Apple can store your location data and give it to apps too. To turn that off, go into Settings > Privacy > Location Services.

Assuming Location Services are on, you should now see a list of apps with two bits of information: a button showing whether access to Location Services is on or off for that app, and a little arrow if it’s used your location data recently.

There’s another screen in here, System Services, and that enables you to turn off system-level use of your location for features such as location-based ads, web browser search suggestions, setting the time zone and so on. Simply turn off any services you want to shut down.

What’s the downside to turning off Android location tracking?

You’ll lose some of the things that make Android so good. Google Assistant is less helpful if it doesn’t know your favorite places, and some apps aren’t of much use without location services enabled. On the upside, less GPS use means less battery drain.

How to turn Android location tracking back on

If you find yourself needing directions from Google Assistant or you decide your movements aren’t interesting enough to worry about other people seeing them, it’s easy enough to re-enable Android location tracking. This time all you need to do is:

  1. Open Settings
  2. Go to Location (or Security & Location)
  3. Use the on-screen toggle button on the top right to turn it on
  4. Tap on Google Location History and use the on-screen button to turn it on

It’s a similar process with Apple devices: go back into Settings > Privacy > Location Services and use the toggle buttons to switch services back on.

What do you think? Does the usefulness of Android location tracking outweigh the potential privacy issues, or should we limit how much information we share in general? Let us know in the comments below.

13 comments

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  • Mike 4 weeks ago Link to comment

    If you're going to commit a crime, leave your phone home.


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  • 1Ted1 4 months ago Link to comment

    Except NOTHING keeps android from turning location back on... I have it turn off in every app I have control of and it STILL turns it on everytime I pick up my phone to use it...I have the main location turned off.. and EVERY frikken app on the phone in the app manager.. don't tell me to turn it off here or there.. I have heard this crap for 2 years and none of it works permanently... my phone updated Wednesday and now it's twice as bad.. went through all the apps and sure enough it turned on location on what it wanted and I again shut them all off manually.. so I don't want to hear turn this off or that off.. it's in the system or something of which I have no control and I'm sick of it... Galaxy S3.. and S5 active..


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  • D. L. 5 months ago Link to comment

    For those who really want to stop ALL location info Google scoops up, you need to read this. Merely turning off all location settings does not stop them. Researchers found that through activities and web they are tracking still. But, you can turn that off as well.
    Look up article on the Verge , my link would not let me post.


  • Sorin 5 months ago Link to comment

    At me the location is activated permanently:
    maybe that's how it will know me Santa, so come to me too !!!


  • It doesn't bother me. i find a lot of services useful and it's metadata they use. Get used to it. The same people that have an issue have a smart home.


  • Google is a crime syndicate. They call it location "service" while they steal my location. A service is something they do for ME, not for themselves. I use a VPN much of the time so their tracking leads to confusion by promoting businesses in Jersey or California or where ever I define to virtually be.
    Another stupidity of tracking my location is happening when I look for a gasoline station while my partner is driving. I get stations that I passed before. It seems the program designers never use their programs themselves or run a usability test.


  • storm Jan 30, 2018 Link to comment

    I've turned off tracking for a long time and turned off all of Google's history for all settings. And this work fine. Yes I allow maps to use the GPS, but not tracking of data. App by app I turn it off as well.


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