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
If mobile me has been added to your phone. Can you delte that from your phone? To avoid being tracked Also if the imphone is turned off can you still be located?
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

if the phone is turned-off, it cannot be tracked.
To remove it, just remove the MobileMe account settings or turn off the "find my iPhone" option.

Anonymous Visitor (not verified)
Re: How To Use Your iPhone To GPS Track Someone's Location
My lost/stolen ipod has been located using MobileMe. I have sent numerous messages asking for them to return along with my telephone #. Should I call the police ?
Anonymous Visitor (not verified)
Re: How To Use Your iPhone To GPS Track Someone's Location
Is there anyway to know if you're being tracked. My wife and I have this on our phones and despite having nothing to hide, I don't love the idea of her constantly checking in to see where I am. Just kind of weird. Is there anyway to know how often you location is being tracked? Or a notification that you are being located. I don't think there is? Just seems there's a lot of room for abusing this on the other side if you have this set up. It would be nice to have a feature that could tell you how many times it's been checked. Or an email notification that says your location has been identified even if your phone is on (not just for when it comes back online).
photo of member named
Hubby
insert witty description here
I am a Grown Up Geek
Re: iPhone GPS tracking

You can find out if tracking is enabled on your iPhone just by reading the page above, and checking your phone for those particular settings.
Each time your iPhone is tracked and located, an email is sent to the Mobile Me account email address.

Anonymous Visitor (not verified)
Re: iPhone GPS tracking
This hasn't been the case for me. I can go now and track my phone (as I have it enabled and want to have it enabled) and it will locate me and there is never an email sent to my Mobile Me. I think the only time it sends an email is if the phone is offline and then it will send you an email when it comes back online and is located. Unless I'm mistaken this is what I was hoping that it would or could have this as a feature so you know when you're being tracked. I suppose they don't have this as they assume you're the one doing the tracking so you don't need to tell yourself this information. Though it would be nice so you know if other have access to your account when you're being tracked or when you are using the service, perhaps a log of some sorts. Thanks...
Anonymous Visitor (not verified)
Re: How To Use Your iPhone To GPS Track Someone's Location
i lost my iphone and i have no software or apps on phone such as mobile me & etc.. what can i do to track it?
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

Nothing.. It's like trying to get LoJack installed on your car after it's been stolen.
Be sure to contact your carrier and report it lost/stolen so that nobody can use it to make calls on your account.

Anonymous Visitor (not verified)
Re: How To Use Your iPhone To GPS Track Someone's Location
my iphone was stolen last night. The stealer was turn off my iphone or maybe take out the sim card. So can i track the location if the phone was turned off ?
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

No - when the iPhone is powered off, it cannot be tracked. And.. if they restore/wipe the phone, it will not be traceable.. Be sure that you report the phone as stolen to your carrier so they cant start making calls on your account.. Then, go shopping for your new phone Sad

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