Your every move tracked — How to remove Apple and Google’s location data

It’s no secret anymore. Nearly everything you do online is tracked or recorded and used to learn more about you.

Many of your data points ends up on creepy people search sites. You’ll be shocked to find your full name, address, relatives, phone number, and more. Here’s a list of sites where you can opt out of this invasion of privacy.

On your phone, apps are likely watching — and reporting — more than you realize. Take back control with just a few minutes in your settings.

Navigation apps use your phone’s GPS location to determine exactly where you are. Every time you navigate somewhere, that location is stored in your profile. Prepared to be shocked at what Apple and Google know about your wanderings.

Google saves where you have been

You probably expect that your maps app is keeping track, but have you ever looked back to see all this tracking in action? 

If you’ve used Google Maps for years, there’s probably a startling amount of info about everywhere you’ve gone. Check it out:

  • When signed in, click on your profile picture, then select Manage your Google Account. Or go to your Google Account page.
  • On the left, click on Data & privacy.
  • Under “History Settings,” click on Location History.
  • At the bottom, click Manage history.

You’ll see a map with details like your saved home, work locations, and trips. You can search by year or down to a specific day in the Timeline box in the top left corner.

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Pick a date from a couple of years ago just for fun. You’ll see a blue bar if a trip was recorded. Click a day to see everywhere you went, down to the time and mileage. If your photos are synced to your account, you can see any pics you took at your destination, home, or anywhere else you went that day. You can disable that.

smartphone with incoming call from unknown person
Phone users can stop Apple or Google in their tracks by turning off location in the settings.

Stop Google in its tracks

Maybe you enjoyed the walk down memory lane. Or perhaps it gave you the creeps. You can adjust your settings to stop Google from tracking all your trips.

  • Go back to your Google Account page.
  • On the left, click on Data & privacy.
  • Under “History Settings,” choose Location History. Click Turn off.

Note: Google saves where you go even when you aren’t using a specific Google service. That means you don’t even have to have Maps active as long as you’ve OK’d location reporting.

Switching this off stops tracking in the future, but it will retain a copy of your history.

  • To completely delete your location history data, click on the Auto-delete option. 
  • You can choose to auto-delete the data older than three months, older than 18 months or older than 36 months. You can manually delete anything before that.

If you turn tracking off, Google warns you may not see recommendations based on your history or trips for things like making your commute easier. Your location may still be saved when you use other Google services.

Apple Maps is watching you

Like Google, recent destinations are saved in the Apple Maps app, making them easy to find later. Places like your home, work, and favorite coffee shop may be saved to your favorites.

If you want a clean slate, grab your iPhone or iPad.

(You have to do each entry individually from your phone, so it’ll take some time. Pro Tip: Doing it on a Mac connected to the same Apple ID is faster. More on that below.)

  • Open Apple Maps. Scroll down until you see the Recents section.
  • Swipe the route you want to delete from Apple Maps to the left until you see Delete.
  • Tap Delete.
  • If you want to remove a Favorite location, scroll to the Favorites section, then tap More. Swipe left on the Favorite location you want to delete, then tap Delete.

No time for that? Here’s how to do the job on a Mac.

  • Open the Apple Maps app. Scroll to Recents in the sidebar.
  • Below Recents, click Clear Recents.
  • Want to remove a Favorite location? Press Cmd + click a location (in the sidebar below Favorites), then choose Remove from Favorites.

Your location is used for all sorts of things in your iPhone, including Find My. I keep this on because I want to track down my phone if it’s ever lost. 

You can, however, stop sharing your location with all apps and services if you’d like. That includes Apple Maps.

  • Go to Settings > Privacy > Location Services.
  • Turn off location sharing.

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𝗖𝗿𝗲𝗱𝗶𝘁𝘀, 𝗖𝗼𝗽𝘆𝗿𝗶𝗴𝗵𝘁 & 𝗖𝗼𝘂𝗿𝘁𝗲𝘀𝘆:
𝗙𝗼𝗿 𝗮𝗻𝘆 𝗰𝗼𝗺𝗽𝗹𝗮𝗶𝗻𝘁𝘀 𝗿𝗲𝗴𝗮𝗿𝗱𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗗𝗠𝗖𝗔,
𝗣𝗹𝗲𝗮𝘀𝗲 𝘀𝗲𝗻𝗱 𝘂𝘀 𝗮𝗻 𝗲𝗺𝗮𝗶𝗹 𝗮𝘁

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