How to turn off your location on an iPhone to stay under the radar

Turning Location Services off can improve battery life, security, and overall phone performance.
A woman holding an unlocked iPhone with a number of apps on the screen, including the Find My app.
You might not want all your iPhone apps to know where you are, so you may want to turn your location off to stay private. Jotform / Unsplash

Ever get the feeling that someone is watching you? Smartphone technology has revolutionized our lives but raised concerns about privacy. Location sharing, for example, can help us by letting navigation apps and ride-sharing services know where our devices (and usually us, too) are. However, sharing your location can lead to issues involving privacy, security, and even faster battery drain, especially if you don’t know it’s happening.

Thankfully, you can adjust your iPhone’s privacy settings to turn off location sharing, or at least minimize the amount of tracking information you’re sending elsewhere. This will allow you to control the data collected and shared with apps and services, and disabling Location Services is quick and easy on iOS. 

How to turn off location on an iPhone

1. Open the Settings app, then click on Privacy & Security.

The iPhone Settings app, showing where to find the privacy and security settings.
To keep your location private on an iPhone, you’ll need to enter the privacy settings. Screenshot: Apple

2. Select Location Services.

The iPhone Settings app showing where Location Services is.
Here’s where you’ll find pretty much everything related to your location. Screenshot: Apple

3. Turn off the green toggle switch to the right of Location Services at the top of the screen.

The iOS Settings app, showing where to find the toggle switch to turn off your location on an iPhone.
Just flip that switch. Screenshot: Apple

4. Confirm that you want to disable location sharing by tapping Turn Off in the pop-up menu. Turning off Location Services will turn off location sharing for all apps on your iPhone at once.

  • Note: Disabling Location Services will also make it unlikely that someone will be able to track your phone, if you’re worried about that.
The iOS Settings app, showing where to turn off your location on an iPhone.
Confirm you want to turn off your location and you’re good to go. Screenshot: Apple

How to turn off a hidden location option in your iPhone’s System Services

Buried among all the other options in the iPhone’s Location Services menu is System Services, and the options there are both important and easily overlooked. Disabling all or some of these will help you ensure greater privacy, increased battery life, and that it’s harder for companies and people to track your location.

[Related: Hidden iPhone settings that feel like secrets]

For the purposes of this guide, though, we’re focusing only on a feature called Significant Locations, which tracks where your device goes in an effort to figure out which places are particularly important to you.

1. Go to the Settings app, tap Privacy & Security, and select Location Services. Scroll down to the bottom of the page and select System Services.

The iPhone Location Services settings, showing where to find System Services.
System Services is buried, but there are some crucial options hidden in there. Screenshot: Apple

2. Find Significant Locations and toggle off the switch next to it.

The iPhone System Services settings inside Location Services, showing where to find significant locations and turn it off.
Maybe you don’t want people knowing which locations mean something to you. Screenshot: Apple

How to hide your location on an iPhone

Hiding your location on an iPhone is similar to turning off Location Services entirely. To hide your location from specific apps, such as Apple’s Find My app, follow the first three steps from above. After tapping on Location Services, scroll down to find the app that you don’t want to access your location (Find My, in our example). You can then turn off Location Services for that specific app (choose Never), or select While Using to limit its access to your location data.

The iPhone Settings app, showing where to find the options to hide your location from specific apps, using the Find My app as an example of one you might never want to use your location.
The Find My app can help you find lost devices, but it can also show other people with access to the account where you are. Screenshot: Apple

You may have heard that airplane mode will hide your location, but it won’t—not entirely, at least. Airplane mode turns off all wireless connections on your iPhone, including cellular data, WiFi, and Bluetooth, so your phone won’t be able to share your location that way. But Location Services uses GPS, which operates independently, so some apps and services may still be able to see your device’s location while your phone is in airplane mode.

How to temporarily stop sharing your location on an iPhone

You can enable the Do Not Disturb mode to temporarily stop sharing your location on your iPhone. To do so, swipe down from the top right corner of your screen (or up from the bottom on older models) to open the Control Center. There, you will see a crescent moon icon representing Do Not Disturb. Tap on it to turn the mode on or off. When enabled, this feature will stop your device from sending location updates to apps and contacts.

The iPhone Control Center, showing where to find the Do Not Disturb Focus mode, which you can use to temporarily stop sharing your location.
Do Not Disturb makes sure people can’t find you either. Screenshot: Apple

As mentioned above, you can also manually turn off location sharing for specific apps by going to the Location Services settings and individually adjusting the permissions for each app. 

How to pull your iPhone location history from a computer

You can view your iPhone’s location history on a computer via iCloud’s Find My app. 

On your phone, go to the Settings app and tap on your Apple ID at the top. Then, select Find My and ensure the toggle next to Find My iPhone is turned on. Only then will the following steps work.

The iPhone Settings app showing how to ensure your location history is available via the Find My app.
If Find My isn’t on, you won’t be able to access what it knows about you. You can still turn it off again afterward, though. Screenshot: Apple

1. Log in to using your Apple ID and password.

2. From there, click the Find iPhone icon and select your device. You can view your iPhone’s location history on a map and access other features, such as remotely locking or erasing your device.

The Find My iPhone app showing a map of where an iPhone has been.
Found you. Screenshot: Apple


Q. Can people see location on iPhone photos?

Yes, if you have enabled Location Services for your camera app, people can see the location on iPhone photos. This means that when you take a photo, the location data is embedded in the photo’s metadata, allowing others to view it if they can access the photo’s information. 

Q. Does the iPhone alert you when someone checks your location?

No, the iPhone does not alert you when someone checks your location. However, others can only see your location if you have explicitly shared it with them through apps like Find My or Messages.

Q. Does turning off your phone stop location sharing?

No, even when your phone is turned off, certain apps or services may still be able to access your last known location data. To stop location sharing, you must disable Location Services and revoke app permissions to block them from accessing your location.