How To Use Your iPhone To GPS Track Someone's Location


Applies to: iOS6, iPhone, iPad, iPad2, iPad 3, "New iPad", & iPod Touch

 

Updates for 2013 and iOS 7 

The instructions on this page are specifically for iOS 6, but if you have a new iPhone with iOS7 or if you have upgraded from iOS6 to iOS7, the settings are basically the same.


Did you know that your iPhone (iPad or iPod Touch) can be used as a real-time GPS location-tracking device, giving the (near) exact location of the phone (or the car, or purse that it is in) in near-real time?  You can watch on your PC or Mac as the location is pinpointed on a map, and updated every several seconds, accurately to within just a few feet!  The person holding the phone doesn't even have to do anything, and won't even know they are being tracked. Perfect for parents that want to keep an eye on their children's location - now buying (or loaning) an iPhone to your kids might make more sense.

 

Watch the video version:

WARNING: Using this method to turn an iPhone into a real-time GPS location tracking device should only be done to an iPhone that you own.  Tracking someone's iPhone that you do not own, without the owner's permission or placing any tracking device on someone without their permission or knowledge is not only immoral, but it may also be illegal in some states.Iphone Tracking via GPS

What you need to track your iPhone location:

  • Any iPhone (1st generation, iPhone 3g, iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iPhone 4S) running iOS 5 or newer - Jailbreaking is not required.  First generation iPhones will provide slightly-less accurate location information due to the lack of a GPS chip, and must be in range of cell towers.  Works on all iPads, but for non 3G iPads, it will only work if/when the iPad is in range of a wireless network and the location data may be less accurate.  Also works on iPod Touch but only if wireless is enabled and the device is in-range of a wireless network
  • MobileMe Account:  Mobile Me is a service provided by Apple for email, online data backup/storage, calendar/contacts sync, and Find My iPhone.  The normal cost for Mobile Me is $99/year, but you can usually find memberships for less on eBay (buyer beware!).  You can often get several months of Mobile Me for free when buying a new iPhone or computer from Apple, and you can also sign up for a free 60-day trial membership at the Mobile Me website to try the service.  For more info on the Mobile Me service, see Apple's Mobile Me website.
  • iCloud Account (FREE!): iCloud is a service provided by Apple for email, online backup of iOS devices, calendar/contacts sync and Find My iPhone.  iCloud is FREE.  See Apple's iCloud Website

How to turn your iPhone into a GPS location-tracker:

The key to using your iPhone as a real-time GPS location tracker is the Find My iPhone service which is part of iCloud.  Most people have probably heard about the Find My iPhone service - Apple markets the service as a way to find your iPhone if it becomes lost or stolen - but what many do not realize about the Find My iPhone service is:

  1. You can use Find My iPhone to get real-time maps of where your iPhone is at any time.  You do not have to 'report' the phone as stolen.
  2. You can get the location of your iPhone as often as you wish, with no limits
  3. There is no limit to the number of iPhones you can track - they don't even have to be owned by you! Just remember: do not track a phone/person without that person's permission.  Should the iPhone owner catch on that you are tracking their every movement, the information they need to convict you will be stored in the iPhone.

How to setup location tracking on an iPhone:

  • On the iPhone you want to track, go into SETTINGS, then iCloud
  • Enter your iCloud account information
  • Scroll down through the iCloud options (contacts, calendars, etc) and make sure that Find My iPhone is ON

Your iPhone is now setup as a location tracker! 

How to find and track the location of your iPhone:

From any computer connected to the internet: From any browser go to www.iCloud.com and sign in with your email address/iTunes account and password.  Once signed-in select Find My iPhone.  When prompted, re-enter your password.  After a moment a list of all devices you have configured for tracking will show on the left of the screen.  Click the device to track - after a moment a map will appear with the location of your device pin-pointed in the center (this usually takes a few seconds).  If the iPhone is in motion it will not be updated live on the screen - click the refresh button near the upper-right (near the time) to update the location.

From another iPhone or an iPad: Download and install the free Find My iPhone app.  Start the app and enter your Mobile Me membername (email) and password.  Select the device to track from the list and a map will appear with the location.  To update the map/location, click the refresh-button in the lower left.

When tracking on either a computer or another iPhone or iPad: on the map, select "hybrid" view for the best map view.

 

That's all there is too it!  There are other, cheaper ways to track an iPhone but they require jailbreaking and the person with the iPhone must first run a specific application on the phone, and are just not as simple or 'fool proof' as this method.  This method requires only a minute to setup and does not require you to do anything on the iPhone once configured. 

 

More reading about tracking and locating iPhones, iPads, iPods:

 

 

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Anonymous Visitor (not verified)
Re: How To Use Your iPhone To GPS Track Someone's Location

I guess we screwed up !! Just ck his iMessage
If you re able to get new password. I don't
Think I will get his new icloud password.
I'm thinking of using an old iPhone and leave it
In his car it may connect when he's at work or home .
Any idea or tracking devices hahaha

photo of member named
Hubby
insert witty description here
I am a Grown Up Geek
iPhone tracking notificaitons

I'm not getting any notifications when I track my devices. What steps are you taking to track it?

Anonymous Visitor (not verified)
Re: How To Use Your iPhone To GPS Track Someone's Location

I have used the iphone feature tracker and I noticed that there are times that the location is not accurate. I know for sure because just as I am clocking into the hospital, it appears as if I am somewhere else way off. Many times, it shows the device is several blocks away from the hospital when I am actually present inside the ER. We don't use the phone during work hours but I carry it with me in case my family needs me.

I have tested the accuracy with another phone and where I park, it is very inaccurate.

Is there a reason for this?

Location is enabled.

Would you say that the iphone is not necessarily very accurate all the time. It use to be but several months ago, the accuracy was lost. I also heard there is a "built in" GPS or coordinate with turn by turn accuracy that the iphone has. How do I find it? I would like to use it when I am not home and my teen is out.

Apple Eater (not verified)
Re: How To Use Your iPhone To GPS Track Someone's Location

There can be many reasons for the GPS accuracy (any GPS) to be off.. Most likely is that when you are inside the building it is difficult to get a good signal from the GPS satellites. the iPhone also uses nearby WiFi signals to triangulate location, and those could be interferred with by equipment in the hospital.. Could also be any of 100 other reasons.. GPS is not always accurate, especially indoors.

My iPhone, my old iPhone, my wife's iPhone, and my daughter's iPhone are all extremly accurate at determining their location.. Unless they are inside a big building or in the middle of nowhere.. Sometimes it's accurate even when they are in the middle of nowhere.

Not sure what you are talking about on the "built in" or turn by turn GPS. Apple Maps has turn-by-turn directions for guiding you to your desitation. It uses the built-in GPS, as does Find My iPhone, Find Friends, and any apps that determine location.. To track your teen either put your iCloud account on his phone and use Find My iPhone or both of you can install the free Find My Friends app, "invite" each other, and then see each other's location.. These apps use the "built in" GPS aka Location Services.

Anonymous Visitor (not verified)
Re: How To Use Your iPhone To GPS Track Someone's Location
I just need to see location of another I phone is not mine
Anonymous Visitor (not verified)
Re: How To Use Your iPhone To GPS Track Someone's Location
Is it possible to activate the gps on an iphone without having the phone? Want to find out where someone is going after work.
AnonyMan (not verified)
Re: How To Use Your iPhone To GPS Track Someone's Location
No, thank god..
Anonymous Visitor (not verified)
Re: How To Use Your iPhone To GPS Track Someone's Location
Can you track a phone that isn't an iphone, for instance sony experia, using an iphone?
photo of member named
Hubby
insert witty description here
I am a Grown Up Geek
Re: How To Use Your iPhone To GPS Track Someone's Location

It is technically possible, but you will need to find an app that will install on the Experia to track it that also has a web-page interface or iOS app that you can use from the iphone to track it.

Lorraine (not verified)
Re: How To Use Your iPhone To GPS Track Your petsLocation
I have an iPhone 4 can I use 'find my iphone' to find where my cat is.. What is meant by other devices and could a tracking tag be one of them.

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