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

Applies to: iOS8 and iOS 9, iPhone, iPad, iPad2, iPad 3, "New iPad", & iPod Touch

 

Update for 2015 and iOS 9 

The instructions on this page are specifically for iOS 6, if you have a new iPhone with iOS 9 or if you have upgraded to iOS9, the settings are virtually 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:

 

 

   

   

Comments

The email should be automatic.. Dont know why you wouldn't get it.

That's what I thought... thanks for the info! I'll stop looking around trying to find out how to make it work! :)

my iphone 4 was stolen last night.. and i had the mobile me on my phone an locked it through the app through my friends iphone, but i cant locate it now because the red dot is on.. is it not able to locate because the red dot indicates the phone is off ? or is it becuase my sim card possibly was taken out? if it was it would still be locked correct?

I dont think the sim card matters to Find My iPhone.. if it's not finding it, either it is powered-off, it has no wifi or Celluar signal, OR it's been wiped clean..

If you havnt already, be sure to call AT&T/Verizon and report it as stolen.. They wont do anything to help you recover it, but they can kill the account/sim card so that the thief doesnt start making calls ..

hi cani track my iphone 3gs with serial number imei no i bouhgt phone on ebay i dont know whether this phone installed find me app so still can person locate my position how can i prevent this thanks

The first thing you should do with an untrusted iPhone is "wipe" it clean by doing a restore on it. Then you will have nothing to worry about.

Hi, I need help! I've been trying to find out about how someone can track your location using their iPhone without your permission! And i seem to be coming across the same answers; it cannot be done without your permission, you have to accept a request from them. My friend has an iPhone and he showed me the other day how he could track me, he has even text me my location a few times without me telling him. It freaked me out, there was no way of him knowing where i was. I haven't given him permission to track my location nor have i accepted any requests from him. can you please tell me how he did this? I really don't feel comfortable knowing that he can see my whereabouts! esp as we are not friends anymore. I feel like i have no privacy! I don't have an iPhone or a touch screen phone, it's just a normal Nokia handset. I've called up t-mobile to see if they could help me, i explained my situation, but they told me that they don't deal with such features. I don't know what to do! Help me please.

i have an ipad and i had find my iphone on it. i restored it and then tried to track it . it does not work. what good is it if someone restores it . it makes no sense to have find my iphone on.

It does no good if someone restores it because that will erase everything including the Mobile Me account/tracking settings. It makes perfect sense though, to track it up until it gets erased/restored or if the thief doesn't know about restoring it or doesn't know it's being tracked.

I have discovered (and I want to apologize off the bat if this was previously mentioned already) that if you do not have an iphone 4, the findmyiphone app will not work, UNLESS, you have had a previous mobileme account. Apparently they are no longer accepting subscriptions to the service unless previous customer? I am a little confused by why apple would stop accepting customers especially for the paid service? I am not operating an iphone 4, sadly, still have the 3G, but am very interested in how i can go about having a service like mobileme, or at least be able to track my phones/daughter's phone location (she is very....oh whats the word....irresponsible and constantly losing her phone, but it is 100% necessary that she has one) without alerting the thief? or my daughter for that matter as she gets older...lol Any ideas or info that will help me find an accurate program is much appreciated! Thanks! 

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