How to disable location tracking on your phone


There are some reasons why location tracking can be useful. Accurate location data can help with navigating with Google Maps for example or improve your commute data so that travelling to and from work is easier. You might not be too keen on Google (or others) knowing your every move though, so we're here with the details you need to know on how to hide your location a bit more effectively or at least to turn tracking off.

location tracking google


How to turn off Google location tracking

If you're an Android user or a fan of navigating your way around with Google Maps then you're probably aware that Google is tracking your movements. Indeed with default settings, it's possible to see a timeline of your movements right in Google Maps and see all the places you visited and when.

There are numerous benefits to this location tracking. Keeping track of loved ones is an obvious one but also just sharing your location to easily meet up with friends can be another. This can make it easy to share where you are and quickly get directions to visit people you know.

You might not want Google knowing and tracking every little movement you make though. There might be some privacy concerns for a start.

Luckily it's relatively easy to turn off location history tracking with just a few clicks. If you're already logged into your Google account in a browser then you can visit your activity control center here and then click to turn automatic tracking off.

turn off location tracking on Android

Turn off tracking from your phone

It's fairly easy to turn off location tracking from your phone and you can access the settings to do so in a couple of different ways:

Using the Google App

The Google App on your phone not only lets you search the web but it can also be used to access and control all the data that Google holds about you. Using this app you can turn location tracking off and access various other settings including your history.

  1. Open the Google App
  2. Tap on your profile image on the top right of the app
  3. Tap "manage your account"
  4. From there head over to the "data and privacy" section of the settings
  5. Scroll down until you find the "location history" settings and tap that
  6. Look for the option marked "turn off" and tap that
  7. You then have the option to also delete your history
  8. It's also possible to change a setting here to auto-delete after a set period of time.

Another thing that's worth noting is it's possible to turn off the location tracking on your Android phone. Swipe down from the top of the screen to open the notification shade and the quick settings. There you should find a setting marked "location" tap that to turn it off. You will then find that Google isn't tracking you as accurately, though it will mean that Google Maps isn't as powerful.

Turning off location tracking with Google Maps

As well as accessing location tracking data via the Google app it's also possible to do it through Google Maps as well.

  1. Open Google Maps on your phone
  2. Tap your profile photo on the top right of the app
  3. Click on "your data in Maps"
  4. Scroll down and click on location history
  5. Tap to turn tracking off
  6. You can also see and delete location history in here too

Beyond letting Google track your physical location for navigation in Google Maps it's also possible to turn off location tracking that's used in search:

  1. Open the Google App
  2. Tap on your profile image on the top right of the app
  3. Tap on settings
  4. Look for "privacy and security"
  5. Tap on the setting for "precise location"
  6. Select "don't use" or "ask every time"

This data is used for results in Google Search, Google Assistant and Google Lens. Turning this location tracking off might mean the results you get from Google are less useful and less personalised, but it'll give you peace of mind that your location isn't being tracked.

How to delete location data from Google Search

How to delete location data from Google Maps

As well as turning off location tracking so that you're not tracked in future it's also possible to delete the location data that Google already has about you. If you want to delete location tracking data for a particular day or for a certain trip that you took then you can do that with just a few steps via the Google Maps app:

  1. Open Google Maps on your phone
  2. Tap your profile photo on the top right of the app
  3. Click on "your data in Maps"
  4. Scroll down and look for location history
  5. Tap on "see and delete activity"
  6. You can then select a day from the calendar
  7. Click the three-dot menu on the top right of the app
  8. Choose "delete day" and it'll remove all the data for that day
  9. Alternatively, you can find the specific journey or place you visited and click the three dot icon next to it and tap "remove"
How to delete travel data from Google Maps

How to delete timeline data from Google Maps

As well as deleting location data from Google Maps on your phone it's also possible to do it via your location history on a desktop as well. When logged in to your Google account in a browser you can visit Google Timeline for a quick view of all the places you've been around the world. You can use this tool to drill down to specific places or dates and then delete parts of the location tracking history.

  1. Open up Google Timeline in a browser
  2. On the bottom click to see all the most visited places or recent trips or delete the year, month and day of the trip you want to delete
  3. From there you can then click the bin icon to delete the entire day from your location history
  4. Alternatively, you can find the stop or place you visited and click the three-dot icon next to it and click "remove stop from day"
Use incognito mode in Google Maps

Use incognito mode to prevent location tracking

If you don't want to completely turn off location tracking but would like to do some things privately without worrying about being tracked for a while then incognito mode is an option. You probably already know how incognito mode works in Google Chrome - preventing your search activity and website visits from being tracked - this same logic can be applied to Google Maps too.

To turn on incognito mode on your phone:

  1. Open up Google maps on your device
  2. Tap on your profile image on the top right of the app
  3. Press on "turn on incognito mode" on the menu that appears
  4. Read the pop-up and close it

You can then use Google Maps and your location will not be tracked or shared, your searches in Google Maps won't be tracked in your history and you won't need to worry about your location being monitored even if you're still using Google Maps to navigate your way around.

Turn off app location tracking

Stop specific apps tracking your location

Aside from the obvious location tracking you might want to be wary about specific apps tracking your location. Some apps logically need access to your location to help improve search results, personalise the content depending on where you are or help secure your activity in other ways. But it doesn't make sense for all apps to track your location and on Android phones, you have the power to control access to your location data on a per-app basis.

  1. Open your phone and head over to the settings
  2. Scroll through the options and look for location settings
  3. Tap that and you will see location tracking is turned on and you can see which apps have permission to access it
  4. Select "app location permissions" and see which apps can see your location
  5. Scroll through the list and look for any apps that you don't want to access your location
  6. Open the app in that list and select "don't allow" from the list of options under "location access for this app"

It's worth noting that without location tracking some apps might not function as expected or give you the best results, but you can always turn it back on by repeating the above steps and reversing your choices or selecting "ask every time" under the location access options. Then the app will ask permission when you load it.

location tracking on your camera

Turn off location tracking on your phone's camera

Perhaps one of the most important things you can do in regard to location tracking is to turn off location data on your photos. This is especially important if you're sharing images on social media as you don't want to be broadcasting where you are (or where you aren't) whenever you uploading your phone photos.

To be on the safe side it's better to disable location tracking on your phone's camera so that no location data is attached to the photos you are taking.

To do this:

  1. Open your phone's camera app
  2. Click on the settings cog on the top of the screen
  3. Tap on more settings
  4. Look for the option "save location" and turn it off

If you use Google Photos to upload and keep your camera photos then you can also make some changes in there as well.

If you go into Google Photos you can click on your profile image then "photos settings" and look for location settings in there. This will let you find all photos with stored locations and delete them if you want to stay safe.